December 4, 2022

Bent but not broken; Buffs hang on–audio highlights

Audio Highlights: GCHS vs. Woodward

Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-You can chalk this one up as one of the strangest high school football games in recent memory. 

Greyson Tempel threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, and Garden City overcame a second-half deficit to beat the Woodward Boomers 35-34 at Buffalo Stadium on a rain-soaked Friday night. 

“I told these kids at half time that you’re going to learn a lot about yourselves tonight,” Head Coach Brian Hill said after the game. “I know more about these players’ character at the beginning of the year than I have the previous three seasons.”

If week two was a learning experience, this much we gathered: Hill’s team is a mentally-tough bunch. 

Leading 28-7 midway through the second quarter, it appeared the Buffaloes were on their way to a blowout win. But the final four minutes of the first half would change the complexion of the entire game. 

Facing a third and 10 at their own 46-yard line, Boomers’ quarterback Kale Hixon hit Micah Kee for 14 yards and a first down. Four plays later, Woodward would be faced with a fourth and two at the Buffalo 32 when Hixon found a crease off the right side for 24 yards and a first down. The senior would cap the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown on fourth and goal at the one-cutting the Garden City lead in half at 28-14 with 39 seconds remaining in the second quarter. 

Then disaster struck. 

Garden City’s Dustin Tempel fielded the ensuing kickoff at his own ten, but when he reversed field, he lost the football, and Woodward recovered at the five-yard line with 38 seconds left in the half. 

Two plays later Hixon, who finished the night with 132 yards rushing on 25 carries, stretched the ball across the goal line to finish off a whirlwind first half that saw the Boomers score two touchdowns in a matter of 13 seconds, cutting the Buffalo lead to 28-21 going into the locker room. 

“You know these kids really stand up in the face of adversity,” Hill said. “We saw that in the second half.”

It seemed as if the Buffalo offense was back on track early in the third quarter, but their drive stalled at the Woodward seven. Then on fourth down-Ismael Hernandez came on for a chip-shot field goal. But a bad snap forced holder Emilio Parr to scramble towards the sideline. As he was falling out of bounds, Parr forced a pass towards the goal line that was intercepted by Kee.

The Boomers capitalized on the turnover when Hixon hit Lane Reazin for a 12-yard score-putting the finishing touches on a 10-play, 78-yard drive that pulled Woodward within one at the 1:43 mark of the third. But Jason Alexander pushed the extra point wide left, holding Garden City’s edge at 28-27. 

The Boomer run would continue when Tempel failed to field the ensuing kickoff inside his own five and Woodward recovered. On the next play, Dakota Taylor powered his way into the end zone-giving the visitor’s their first lead of the night at 34-28 near the end of the third period. 

It wouldn’t take long for the Buffaloes to respond. 16 seconds after they lost the lead, Tempel hit Mitchell Hernandez on a dart over the middle, and watched the senior outrace Logan Pope to the end zone. (Ismael) Hernandez’s extra point pushed Garden City back in front with just over a minute left to play in the third quarter. 

The Buffs nearly gave the lead back when Tempel’s third-down pass from deep in his own end was picked off by Alexander-giving the Boomers the ball back at the Garden City 20 with under seven minutes to go. 

But on the very next play, Kale Hixon bobbled the snap and the Buffaloes recovered. 

From there, Tempel and the offense chewed up more than four minutes of the fourth-quarter clock before their drive stalled at the Woodward 35. Hernandez then placed a perfect punt that Tempel downed at the one-yard line. 

Hixon would give his team one last chance to win the game when he eluded the Buffaloes four-man rush and hit Kaleb Roach up the left sideline for a 48 yard gain to the 49-yard line. But as they did all night, the Garden City defense bent but didn’t break. With under 30 seconds to play, Dozie Ekweariri  intercepted Hixon’s fourth-down pass to seal a one-point win. 

“Deep down inside, our guys really believe what’s going and believe in one another,” Hill said. “Our defense needs to learn to stay in coverage longer. On that last drive there’s no reason why we broke coverage and allowed a big play.”

Garden City built an early 14-0 on four big plays in the first quarter. First it was Tempel hooking up with Hernandez for an 85-yard score. The senior finished the night with nine receptions for 226 yards and two touchdowns.

Immediately after a Hixon fumble at his own 30, Tempel bounced a run to the outside, stampeding all the way to the end zone. 

The Buffaloes third score was arguably the most spectacular play of the young season. On third and four at their own 47, Tempel lobbed a pass down the left sideline for Caleb Tramp. The 6-5 senior went up, tipped the ball to himself, and outraced the Boomer secondary for a touchdown. 

Jared Koster’s 11-yard touchdown run with 4:58 to play in the second, capped the Garden City scoring in the first half. 

Final Game Stats: GCHS vs. Woodward Stats

Notes: Jared Koster, who started last week vs. Bixby, relieved Malcom Howard after Howard was hurt late in the second quarter. Hill said afterwards that Howard could have played in the second half if they really needed him…For the second straight week, Brian Hill’s defense allowed 400 total yards or more (460); they also allowed the Boomers to run 19 more plays (74 to 55)

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