Garden City, KS-Going into any game, it’s never a secret what Garden City plans to do.
“We are going to run No. 4 and No. 26,” Head Coach Jeff Sims has said repeatedly.
Even with the game plan in full view for opponents, they still can stop it. Saturday afternoon epitomized that premise.
Dedrick Mills rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns, Charles West totaled 237 and three scores, and the second-ranked Broncbusters destroyed overwhelmed Fort Scott 57-17 at Frary Field. It was the second time in program history that a pair of running backs rushed for 200 yards in the same game. Incidentally, both have come in 2018.
“The coaches emphasize that all we need to do is give these guys a crack,” center Howard Watkins said. “Then we get to watch them work.”
For most, a 40-hour workweek is pretty standard. On Saturday, Mills and West accomplished most of their labor in a part-time roll, which makes their final numbers even more staggering.
The tandem went to work on the Broncbusters opening possession. Mills setup the Greyhounds, who entered Saturday’s game with the worst run defense in the country, with continuous body blows. After converting a fourth-and-2, it was West’s turn, taking the handoff from Nick Bohn and racing untouched up the middle for a 53-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 12:37 to go in the first quarter.
“Everyday in practice, we work on our technique,” Watkins said. “It’s amazing what it looks like in a game situation.”
Fort Scott (1-4, 1-4) provided the only drama of the afternoon on their second offensive possession. Following a short punt by James Dall, the Grehounds marched 47 yards in four plays, capped with Gunner See’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Darious Abrams that tied the score with less than 6:00 remaining in the opening frame.
“It wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch,” Sims said. “The national championship team in 2016 finished games, even when we put the backups in. I don’t feel that we did that today.”
That may have been the case in the second half, but over the first 30 minutes, the Broncbuster offense was unstoppable.
The next time they had the ball, Garden City (5-0, 3-0) was facing another fourth-and-short. This time Bohn scampered for one yard and a first. Two plays later, he zipped a perfect pass to Brian Boyd for 11. And after the Broncbusters crossed midfield, Bohn found Dominick Watt on a slant for 13.
“I felt Nick played really well today,” Sims said. “We felt he gave us a better chance in this game.”
Following Bohn’s second completion, West rumbled 15 yards to the 6, setting up Mills, who finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown to put Garden City up 13-7 (Ben Raybon missed the extra point).
The sophomore kicker, who drilled two field goals in the final 42 seconds to beat No. 2 Iowa Western the week before, more than atoned for his PAT mishap.
Raybon executed a perfect onside kick that the Broncbusters recovered. Moments later, offensive coordinator John Powers drew up a flea flicker with West flipping back to Bohn, who delivered a dime to Watt for 48. After a false start penalty, West stampeded into the end zone from six yards out, putting the road team up 20-7 early in the second.
“Charles is a speedy guy,” Watkins said. “If he gets to the edge, you’re not going to catch him.”
Such was the case on the Broncbusters next possession, when West took the wildcat snap, faked the give to Mills, and raced 70 yards to the end zone, giving Garden City a 20-point cushion. After Kort Lewis fumbled the ensuing kickoff that Trae Meadows recovered, Bohn floated a screen pass to Mills, who turned the corner for a nine-yard touchdown. The Nebraska-commit added a 27-yard scoring run before Raybon nailed a 34-yard field goal, closing out a captivating 15-minute stretch where Garden City scored 27 unanswered points and produced nearly 300 yards of offense, 237 of which came on the ground. It was 44-7 at the half.
“Charles is the fastest running back I’ve seen in a long time, and Dedrick is an absolute thumper,” Watkins said. “He will run through your face every play. Both of our backs are going to make you tired.”
Mills continued to assault the Greyhounds defense midway through the third, when he took a Bohn handoff and muscled his way 48 yards to the house. David Moore, who replaced Bohn early in the final period, added a one-yard plunge with 10:58 to play, putting a bow on a streak which saw the Broncbusters score 50 unanswered that put them up 57-7 with 10:58 remaining.
“Fans are getting a chance to watch some pretty special players,” Sims said. “I have a special place in my heart for Fort Scott. I enjoyed my time there, and I enjoyed the people. We earned what we did there and we are doing the same thing at Garden City. If you don’t think we’ve earned it, come watch us practice.”
Mills carried the ball 27 times; West 18. In total, the Broncbusters produced 511 rushing yards, the second highest, single-game mark in program history. Bohn finished 7-of-9 passing for 106 yards and a touchdown, and Watt had three catches for 69.
See completed 24-of-41 for 258 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which was a 30-yarder to Jon Jiles in the final 90 seconds. Michigan-transfer Kareem Walker carried the ball six times for one yard before being ejected in the first half after kicking linebacker Heston Lameta. Abrams caught eight balls for 76 and a touchdown.
“We had 500 yards rushing,” Sims said. “That’s not like 500 yards passing. We ran right through the other team. That’s not easy to do.”
Notes: Garden City held the ball for 35:46 and ran 75 plays to Fort Scott’s 58…Garden City was 3-of-5 on fourth down and just 2-of-13 on third down…The Broncbusters have won 13 out of their last 14 games on the road…Jeff Sims is 5-0 for the sixth time in his career…Garden City is 5-0 for the second time in three years… The Broncbusters improved to 3-1 vs. Fort Scott under Sims…Charles West became the first Garden City running back to run for 100-yards or more in five straight games since Jeff Blanchard did it in 2006
Next up: Garden City vs. Iowa Central-Saturday, Oct. 6-12:30 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. kick on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app