The Braves executed it much better than it did in the playoff loss in California. Ottawa held McPherson scoreless until the final 12 minutes of the game in the Braves’ 38-14 victory.
“We played our best game,” Homolka said. “If we all play our best game at the same time, we are pretty good. We got talent on defense. Playing Azusa Pacific last year helped us. We had a similar game plan. We did it better.”
McPherson did move the ball, but had trouble finishing drives. Ottawa surrendered 492 yards, but came away with four turnovers and blocked a field goal.
“A lot of those are trash yards,” Homolka said. “We played soft coverages. We had them do some things to run the clock. Yards don’t matter ... the points do.”
Ottawa coach Kent Kessinger liked how the Braves defense attacked McPherson.
“Our defense .. we made plays,” Kessinger said. “We had picks and strips. We have to go with relentless effort. McPherson is playing for a conference championship like we were. They had two weeks to prepare for us. We played physical on both sides of the ball.”
The only real negative was Ottawa’s tackling was not the best, especially against McPherson’s Havelock Pomole, who is listed at about 270 pounds. He finished with 98 yards on 10 carries, but had one rush for 77 yards.
The Ottawa defense is becoming much deeper. Homolka has given time to younger players in the heat of the battle.
“Competition at linebacker has helped us,” Holmolka said. “We had three freshmen defensive lineman play a lot. We have a good mix. We have to keep it rolling.”
The Ottawa offense put together its most complete game with 363 yards (134 rushing and 229 passing). A lot of it has to do with the maturation process of quarterback Shane Gimzo, who was 18 of 25 passing for 229 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 63 yards.
“Shane made a lot of good checks,” Kessinger said. “The last touchdown we scored, he checked to it. That was the third check he made during the game. I told him ‘he is becoming a quarterback now.’
“First and second down they got it. On third down, I give them a little latitude.
“They have options. He did a good job of protecting the football. He is becoming well rounded. No turnovers.”
Jon Hilliger caught 10 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Ottawa rolled to a 31-0 lead.
The Braves remained in a three-way tie for the conference lead along with Tabor and Kansas Wesleyan.
Ottawa (4-2, 4-1) plays 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Sterling.
O — Hayes 30 run (Stamp kick).
O — Gimzo 2 run (Stamp kick).
O — Anderson 46 fumble return.
O — Hernandez 12 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
O — Stamp 29 FG.
M — Rotering 18 pass from Snodgrass (Bosque kick).
O — Hilliger 22 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
M — Record 6 pass from Snodgrass (Bosque kick).
Rushing — Ottawa (40-134): Gimzo 16-63; Hayes 16-53; Dydell 5-19; Johnson 2-2; McPherson: Pomele 10-98; Snodgrass 20-92; Jones 6-26; Tabb 1-(-3).
Passing — Ottawa: Gimzo 18-25-0 229; McPherson: Snodgrass 23-44-3 279.
Receiving — Ottawa: Hilliger 10-139; Adamson 4-34; Hayes 2-33; Hernandez 1-12; Wilkerson 1-11; McPherson: Record 11-92; Rotering 5-111; Patton 2-32; O’Rourke 2-8; Ramos 1-24; Robinson 1-7; Thibodeaux 1-5.
Tackles — Ottawa: Schultz 10, Coomes 9, Bruto 9, Anderson 6, Corbitt 6, Semmel 6, Gross 6; McPherson: Bruton 9, Roehl 9, Wilson 8, Long 6.