Audio Highlights: GCCC vs. Highland
Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-When it comes to golden opportunities, the Busters have had more of their fair share this season. Taking advantage of those gifts has been another story.
The lack there of may have cost Matt Miller’s team a shot at the playoffs. For the first time since 1976, the Highland Scotties won in a game in Garden City, beating the Busters 20-17 in a thrilling, down-to-the-wire contest Saturday night at Buffalo Stadium.
“I’m disappointed,” Miller said after the game. “The plays are there, we’re just not executing; no consistency on the offensive side of the ball.”
To try and change that, Miller went with sophomore Jake Curran as his starting quarterback. But even the veteran couldn’t save the Busters on this night.
Offensive mistakes killed Garden City all night including on the Busters third offensive possession. Facing a 3rd-and-five from their own 29, Curran completed a pass over the middle to Brandon Snell. But when the freshman tried to shake out of the grasp of Brandon Lockwood, he lost the football, which was scooped up by Pat Martin, who raced 30 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. Josh Pasley’s extra point made it 7-0 Highland with 4:50 to play in the opening quarter.
“When you have 14 guys on you, just go down,” Miller said. “It’s that simple.”
The Busters would turn it over again on their very next possession. After moving the ball to the Scotties 31-yard line, reserve running back Farres James coughed up the exchange from Curran and Marlon Williams recovered for Highland.
And although the defense made a stop on the Scotties next possession, the turnovers and 13 penalties for 109 yards set the tone for the entire game.
“We just keep making the same mistakes,” Miller said.
The Busters would break through on their next drive when Tyler Peterson drilled a 27-yard field goal-capping off a 10-play, 60-yard drive that made it 7-3 midway through the second quarter.
But Scotties quarterback Brandon Bergeron would have the last laugh of the first half-marching his mates six plays, 51 yards in just under three minutes-finishing it off with a Brandon Peters 12-yard rushing touchdown extending the lead to 14-3.
Curran finally jump started the Garden City offense in the second half. On the Busters second possession of the third quarter, the sophomore used both his legs and his arm to move his team inside the Highland 10. Then after the signal caller scampered eight yards to the one, he called his number again on third and goal-this time for a touchdown, cutting the Scotties lead to four. On the drive, Curran was 2-for-3 for 23 yards; running it four times for 50 including the score.
It wouldn’t take long for Garden City to grab their first lead. On Highland’s ensuing possession, Bergeron pass up the sideline was picked off by Wonderful Terry, who returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Peterson’s extra point gave the Busters a 17-14 advantage with 8:42 to play in the third.
“I say it every week, our defense was outstanding,” Miller said. “Those guys do one heck of a job every single game.”
Bergeron bounced back on the next possession, completing 3-of-4 passes-including a 13-yard strike to Melvin McAdams to keep the drive alive. But a penalty and incomplete pass on third down inside the Garden City 20, short circuited a promising drive. However Josh Pasley would salvage it with a game-tying, 37-yard field goal with 5:08 to play in the third.
Pasley would add the go-ahead boot midway through the fourth-this time from 27 yards out to give the Scotties a 20-17 lead.
The Busters would have one more crack to tie or win it when the defense forced a Highland punt around midfield.
Starting at their own 26 with only one timeout and under two minutes to play, Miller decided to go wildcat. Back-to-back runs by Oklahoma State commit Tyreek Hill gave the Busters a first down at their own 40-yard line. The sophomore wasn’t much of a factor until the last drive; he finished the night with 13 carries, for just 16 yards.
Curran then came back in and hit Snell on a key 2nd-and-nine-that pushed Garden City across midfield with under a minute to go. On the very next play, Curran had a wide open Hill-streaking free up the seam. But a six-man rush forced a fluttering pass from the sophomore that was intercepted by Contereze Pierce at the 20 yard line.
“Jake played good,” Miller said. “He’s not the reason we lost this game.”
The loss dropped the Busters to 4-3 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Highland is now 5-3 and 4-2 in the Jayhawk.
Next up: Garden City (4-3, 2-3) at Dodge City (6-1, 5-1)-Saturday, October 19-KBUF AM 1030; 6:30 pm pregame
Final Stats: GCCC vs. Highland