Kick heard around Kansas: Law win in final seconds
Final Highlights: DC Law vs. Salina
Dodge City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-There were so many reasons why Dodge City could have easily lost a third straight game: Their starting quarterback was lost for the year; their backup signal caller-coming off a two-interception performance last week, was hobbled, and their kicking game was in shambles. But when Sean Ponder is your coach, you never say never.
Josh Floyd, filling in for the injured Charles McCollum, threw for 148 yards and a score; he also ran for two more, and Alex Fambrough booted home an 18-yard field goal with no time remaining-lifting the Law to a dramatic 34-31 win over the Salina Bombers Saturday night at United Wireless Arena.
“This team was resilient,” Ponder said after the game. “I knew this team was capable of winning football games, and they proved it tonight.”
But it didn’t come easy, and after the Law blew the second of two 11-point leads, the 3,500 fans in attendance could feel it slipping away. But Floyd, who didn’t arrive at the Law practice facility until Friday after being signed the day before, engineered a four-play, 37-yard drive in the final 45 seconds setting up Fambrough’s game winner.
“It feels really good to get this win,” Floyd said afterwards. “That was my main focus-protecting the ball and coming out of here with a win.”
And it took a little improvisation on the first play of that final drive to push the Law (2-2) into scoring position. On first and 10 at their own 10, Floyd was flushed from the pocket. As he rolled to his left, he flipped a shovel pass in the flat to a wide-open Dominique Carson, who steamrolled his way for 25 yards to the Salina 15-yard line. Two plays later, it was Floyd’s 12-yard run that moved the ball to the Bombers three.
“He (Coach Ponder) stuck with a much smaller game plan,” Floyd said. “But the whole game, the coaching staff kept telling that Dominique could make plays, so I got into trouble and saw him out of the corner of my eye.”
Of course the dramatics were all set up after Salina (3-1) crawled out of a 25-14 hole midway through the second half.
Facing a third and nine at their own six, Floyd couldn’t avoid the Bomber rush and was sacked in the end zone by MeShak Williams for a safety-pulling Salina to within nine at 25-16 with 2:58 remaining in the third quarter.
However the Bombers weren’t able to take advantage of the ensuing free kick as their drive stalled at the Law 10-yard line.
Salina had another chance after Fambrough pushed a 45-yard field goal wide left. This time, Eric Clayton’s team capitalized when Damien Dunning, who was signed off of waivers from the Kansas Koyotes on Tuesday, hit Attriel Snipes in stride for a 45-yard touchdown. The former Arkansas Pine Bluff quarterback finished the night 18-of-36 for 293 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Andrew Hunt’s extra point was good and the Bombers trailed 25-23 with 10:37 to play.
The Law nearly handed Salina a gift after Kyle McManus’s bad snap led to a Nate Carter fumble recovery. But the Bombers gave it right back when Ricky Roberts fumbled inside his own five, and Paul Robinson snared it for Dodge City. On the very next play it was Floyd punching it in from a yard out. Fambrough’s extra point hit the left upright keeping it a one-possession game 31-23 with 5:26 to play in the final frame.
Dodge City appeared to seal the deal when Dunning was picked off by Cashmin Thomas at the seven yard line on Salina’s next series. But as the Law took the clock under a minute, Ponder rolled the dice and sent Fambrough out for a 42-yard field goal. The decision proved costly as the veteran kicker’s attempt was blocked by Zach McLain. Maurice Young picked up the loose ball and threw it into the stands. The result: An intentional grounding call that gave the Bombers the ball at the Law 10 with 50 seconds.
On the ensuing play, Dunning hit Keithen Valentine, the one-time walk-on at Kansas State, with a perfect back-shoulder throw for a touchdown-pulling Salina within two. On the two point conversion, Dunning hit Brandon McKinney in the back of the end zone to tie the game.
That setup the dramatics on the final drive. And Fambrough, who pushed a field goal wide left and had one blocked, was called upon in the final seconds.
“In this league, the goal posts are much narrower,” Fambrough said. “So I know I’m going to miss some, but I had confidence in the end.”
Carson scored the game’s first touchdown on a 5-yard scamper-capping off a three-play, 17-yard drive. Floyd extended the lead to 12-0 after he found Young on a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Dunning’s 43-yard strike to Roberts in the second quarter sliced the Law Lead to five. But Dodge City had the final word of the first half when Floyd ran it in from eight yards out-giving the Law an 18-7 advantage at the break.
The Bombers pulled closer in the third after Dunning connected with Valentine on a perfectly-executed screen pass that went five yards to the house.
But DD Hollyfield’s 5-yard rushing touchdown extended the Law lead to 25-14.
Next up: Dodge City at Bloomington Edge-Saturday, April 5-Countdown to kickoff at 6:30 p.m.; 7 p.m. kickoff on 98.1 FM; westernkansasnews.com/z98 and tuneinradio app: KSKZ
Final Stats: dc law vs. salina final stats pack