Audio Highlights: GCHS vs. Wichita Heights
Listen to final five minutes: GCHS scores twice in final 5 minutes
Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Take note: Never count out a Brian Hill coached football team.
Garden City (8-3) scored 21 unanswered points including two touchdowns in the final 4:50 to knock off two-time, state runner-up Wichita Heights 35-28 Friday night in front of a packed house at Buffalo Stadium.
“It’s something we’ve done all year long; we bend but don’t break,” Hill said immediately following his team’s seven-point triumph. “I know I say it every week, but the character of this football team is unbelievable.”
Trailing by 14 points after Forland Paker’s three-yard rushing touchdown on the Falcons opening drive of the third quarter, the Buffaloes needed a major spark.
On Garden City’s ensuing drive, Greyson Tempel went to work, engineering a seven-play, 80-yard march that saw the senior complete 5-of-6 passes for 78 yards including a 22-yard touchdown strike to his brother Dusty Tempel. On the play, Tempel threw into heavy traffic, and threaded a beautiful pass right through the arms of defensive back Rashiid Arnold. Ismael Hernandez’s extra point pulled the Buffs within seven at 28-21 with 6:57 to play in the third period.
“I can’t say enough about my coaching staff,” Hill said. “They made the adjustments in that second half, and our kids executed.”
That score would set up a wild final frame.
After getting a big three-and-out midway through the fourth, Trenton Autry tried to push a punt into the wind. But it was held up and died at the Buffaloes 28-yard line.
After picking up a first down to the Falcons 14, the drive nearly ended when Tempel’s pass to the end zone for Caleb Tramp was taken away by Greg Jones. But the officials ruled Jones out of bounds and an incomplete pass. The lesson here: Don’t ever give (Greyson) Tempel a second chance.
Three plays later, the record-breaking senior hit Tramp again, this time on slant pattern for a touchdown-tying the game at 28 with 2:21 to play.
Heights would have a golden chance on their next possession to grab the lead back when Curtis Witten returned Ezikiel Herrera’s short kickoff to the 41-yard line. But three plays later, Tre King put the ball on the ground and Kelton Uthe recovered at midfield.
Not even an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that pushed Garden City back to their own 36-yard line could swing the momentum.
Deadlocked at 28 with under two minutes to play, Tempel put his team on his back. On first-and-10, the senior lofted a perfect pass down the middle of the field that his twin ran under and made the catch at the Falcons 21.
On the ensuing play, the Buffs appeared to take the lead when Tempel hit Tramp on fade route in the left corner of the end zone. But the official ruled incomplete pass setting up a second down, and only adding to the drama.
Tempel went back to Tramp on the very next play; this time the junior scooped a low throw off the turf and gave Garden City a first down at the nine.
After a timeout, Tempel called his own number and sprinted into the end zone for a touchdown. Once Hernandez booted through the extra point, the Buffaloes had their first lead of the game 35-28 with under a minute to play.
Heights (7-4) would then have one final chance to tie the score from their own 31-yard line. But Parker coughed up the football and Trenton Chiddix recovered, sealing a second straight come-from-behind, heart stopping victory.
“Our guys responded to our coaches tonight and just made plays,” Hill said. “That’s all there is to it.”
It appeared this game might be a track meet after an offensive controlled first quarter. Heights scored on their opening drive-marching 71 yards in five plays-resulting in a King 30-yard rushing touchdown.
Garden City responded when Jared Koster, who finished the night with 13 carries, 118 yards, scored from four yards out, capping off a four-play, 60-yard drive .
Whatever you can do, I can do better, as it only took Heights 2:18 to score once they got the ball back. Armond McCray scampered 59 yards up the sideline to give the Faclons a 14-7 advantage with 6:36 to go in the opening quarter.
While fans were still filing into their seats, Koster’s 74-yard burst to pay dirt, knotted the game at 14, and finished off a wild first period, that saw nearly 300 yards of total offense combined.
Following a Koster fumble in the second quarter, Parker found King down the right sideline, who made the catch, and burned passed (Dusty) Tempel for a 33-yard touchdown giving the Falcons a 21-14 lead going into the half.
Next up: 6A state semifinals: Garden City at #1 Derby (10-1)-Friday, November 22-6:30 pm pregame; 7 pm Kickoff on 98.1 FM and westernkansasnews.com
Final Game Stats: GCHS vs. Wichita Heights