Audio Highlights: GCCC vs. Air Force Prep
Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Living dangerously is not a winning proposition. Fortunately for Garden City Community College on Saturday Night, it didn’t come back to bite them in the end.
The Busters scored twice in the final 13 minutes to overcome a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Air Force Prep 35-34 in a thriller at Buffalo Stadium.
“One thing about this team is they’ll never give up,” a noticeably under-the-weather Head Coach Matt Miller said after the game. “It just shows the competitiveness and the never-say-die attitude of this team.”
Never say die is right. Down 34-21 early in the fourth quarter, things looked pretty bleak for Garden City. But freshman Akeem Jones, who at times struggled with the swirling winds at Buffalo Stadium, hit Tyreek Hill in the end zone for a six-yard touchdown. Tyler Peterson’s extra point pulled the Busters within six with 11:54 remaining in the game.
The offense got the ball back after the defense forced a Huskie punt near midfield. But on the very next play, Jones muffed the snap from center Jason Carreon and Air Force Prep recovered at the Garden City 40-yard line.
“It was absolutely atrocious,” Miller said referring to the fumbled snap. “We do like 300 snaps a day in practice; maybe we need to go up to a 1,000.”
That turnover could have easily cost the Busters the game. And after Huskies quarterback Dominique Allen marched Air Force Prep inside the Garden City ten-yard line with under five minutes to play, the unthinkable seemed to be playing out in front of a stunned, home crowd. But Eric Wester blocked Michael Barden’s 23-yard field goal attempt-giving his team the ball back at the nine-yard line.
With 91 yards to go and two timeouts, Jones marched his team nine plays in 3:30-completing 7-of-8 passes on the drive-six of them to Brandon Snell including a 17-yard slant that the Freshman took to the house to give Garden City a one-point lead with under a minute to play.
“Sometimes he (Jones) looks for Brandon (Snell) a little too much,” Miller said. “But tonight that connection helped us pull this one out.”
Air Force Prep would have one last crack to steal the game, but Mikail Grace intercepted Allen’s heave down the left side to preserve a one-point Buster victory. Grace finished the night with two, spectacular interceptions.
“Mikail (Grace) is a special player,” Miller said. “Don’t be surprised if you see that guy playing on Sunday’s very soon.”
Although the offense put the defense in some precarious spots all night long, Jones threw for a season-high 414 yards and five touchdowns. Three of those scores went to Hill who finished the night with six catches for 134 yards and three touchdowns.
The sophomore’s first score came on Garden City’s opening possession when Jones hit him in stride on a crossing patter over the middle. Hill did the rest, outracing Marquis Griffin to the end zone to give the Busters a 7-0 lead.
Air Force Prep would respond by taking advantage of Garden City’s turnover on downs late in the opening period. Fullback Tim Mcvey then capped off an eight-play, 63-yard drive when he scampered up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
The Busters grabbed the lead back on their next offensive possession when Jones hit Snell on a quick out towards the sideline, spinning away from Daniel Gonzales into the end zone to give Garden City a 14-7 advantage with 13:59 left in the first half.
But on their next possession, Snell fumbled a first down catch away and Griffin picked it up and returned it to the Buster 30-yard line. Seven plays later, back-up quarterback Tyler Williams squeaked across the goal line from three yards out to knot the game at 14-14.
Air Force Prep had a chance to take the lead before the half but Allen’s third-down pass over the middle was intercepted by Grace-whose 23-yard return gave the Busters the ball at the Huskies 38-yard line with 1:08 to play in the half.
Garden City didn’t do much on their first three plays following the turnover, and on fourth down, Jones uncorked an under thrown pass to the end zone that looked to be intercepted by Jayce Webster. But the ball caromed of Webster’s fingertips right to Hill, who secured it in the back of the end zone to give the Busters a 21-14 lead at half time.
The Huskies though would fight back with a scoring onslaught in the second half. After taking a 27-21 lead following Williams’ touchdown pass to Hunter Atyia, Air Force Prep would get the ball back when Michael Gerst coughed it up, and Jordin Hamilton returned it 74 yards to the Garden City one-yard line. Andrew Kwateng would blast in off the left side on the very next play to give the Huskies a 34-21 lead.
Notes: Jones 414 yards passing was the most in a game since Nick Marshall threw for 464 yards in a 54-47 loss to Coffeyville in week ten of last season.