Audio Highlights: GCCC at Hutch
Hutchinson, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Good things normally come to those who wait. Unfortunately for Garden City fans Saturday night, that patience wore thin.
Hutchinson sophomore quarterback Luke Barnes tossed a couple of touchdown passes and the Blue Dragon defense forced five turnovers in defeating the 12th-ranked Busters 34-24 at Gowans Stadium.
“This game is on me,” Head Coach Matt Miller said. “Penalties, turnovers; we were absolutely pitiful in the first half.”
For the first time all season, Garden City’s offensive line appeared mortal. Freshman Akeem Jones was running for his life the entire first half.
“We have to get better-period,” Miller said. “We have one heck of a defense. Right now, we’re a one-sided football team. I’m the offensive play caller; I have to fix that.”
Something else they have to fix: 20 penalties for 160 yards.
The much anticipated conference showdown between two, top-20 teams started with both defenses bending but not breaking.
But after an early stalemate, Hutchinson (2-1, 2-0) would break a scoreless tie when Mike Blakely’s one-yard burst capped off a seven play, 45-yard drive to give the Blue Dragons a 7-0 lead.
As they did a week ago, Garden City would quickly respond with their own 11-play, 51-yard march that consumed nearly six minutes and resulted in Michael Gerst’s first touchdown run of the season: a two-yard blast up the middle.
Following the score, the Busters got the football right back when kicker Tyler Peterson recovered his own onside kick at the 46-yard line. But the celebration was short lived when, on the very next play, quarterback Akeem Jones was stripped of the football by Marquavius Lewis and Blue Dragon’s linebacker Claude George recovered at the Garden City 42.
Hutchinson’s second touchdown came with 40 seconds to play in the first quarter when Orange Mooney found a crease on the left side of the offensive line, and stampeded 11 yards to the end zone to give the Blue Dragons a 14-7 lead.
The Blue Dragons, whose rushing attack was much maligned in their first two games, tallied 147 yards on 43 carries.
Garden City had an opportunity to tie the game early in the second quarter, but on third and 1 at the Hutch 16-yard line, Marquis Montgomery dropped Gerst for a one-yard loss. Tyler Peterson salvaged the drive with a 35-yard field goal that cut the Blue Dragon lead to 14-10.
It appeared that score might hold up going into the halftime locker room, until Blue Dragons punt protector Michael Peck took a direct snap on fourth and 1 from his own 27 and scampered 58 yards all the way down to the Garden City 15-yard line. Two plays later, Barnes rolled the pocket to the right and hit a wide-open Chris Murray for a touchdown extending the lead to 21-10.
Hutch would build on their lead midway through the third quarter when Jones was intercepted by Shattle Fenteng, who returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. But on the ensuing point-after attempt, holder Frankie Suer bobbled the snap and tried to loft the ball into the end zone, but the pass was intercepted by Makail Grace.
Down 17 late in the third, and facing a fourth down deep in their own end, the Busters caught a monumental break when Peterson was roughed on a punt attempt in his own end zone-giving Garden City an automatic first down. Eight plays later, Jones capped the drive off with a 15-yard touchdown strike to Tyreek Hill. But Peterson’s extra point was blocked holding the Blue Dragon lead at 27-16.
The next Garden City possession ended with a three and out, but Chris Murray muffed the punt return and Dakota Cop recovered for the Busters.
Hill’s three-yard touchdown run five plays later pulled Garden City within five. Then, Miller’s decision to go for two would pay off when Jones connected with Brandon Snell in the left corner of the end zone-pulling the Busters within three with 7:41 remaining in the game.
But any hopes off a comeback would quickly dissolve when Barnes hooked up with Jabril Soloman for a 42-yard touchdown, giving Hutchinson a 34-24 at the four-minute mark.
Fenteng’s second pick of the night on Garden City’s next possession, sealed the Blue Dragons sixth straight win over the Busters.
Final game Stats: GCCC vs. Hutch