Comeback central; Wichita sweeps Dodge City
Highlights: DC Law vs. Wichita
Dodge City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-There were plenty of things that were different Saturday night in comparison to March 22: the game was competitive; Dodge City had Wichita on their heels for most of the game. They even had the offense working for a good portion of the night. But in the end, the result was the only thing that remained the same.
Rocky Hinds threw for 140 yards and three touchdowns while the defense sacked Law quarterback Josh Floyd six times en route to a 47-38 victory at United Wireless Arena.
“I’m not disappointed because the players did everything we asked,” Dodge City Head Coach Sean Ponder said after the game. “This one is totally on me. I need to do a better job of calling plays.”
His play calling was superb in the first half as his team climbed out of a 14-0 hole to take a 28-14 lead with 20 seconds to play in the second quarter. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following the score gave the Wild life and great field position at the Law 20. Two plays later, Hinds lobbed a jump ball to the end zone that Joe Kassanavoid came down with-out dueling three Dodge City defenders. Ernesto Lacayo’s extra point cut the deficit to just seven at the break.
The Wild (8-2) didn’t waste any time in the third quarter-tying the game on their opening possession on the heels of a five-play, 33-yard drive-punctuated by Tywon Hubbard’s two-yard rushing touchdown. The third-year player finished with 61 yards on 22 carries and two tickets for six.
After stopping the Law on fourth-and-eight at the Wild 15, Wichita was primed to take the lead back. Especially after Hubbard found a crease and raced 17 yards to the Dodge City 23 yard line. But three plays later, facing a first-and-goal at the eight, Hinds pass was batted up in the air by Michael Graise and intercepted by Marquis George.
“We were able to get pressure at that point,” Graise said. “We did some real nice things up front.”
The Law capitalized-marching 40 yards in four plays and scored on Floyd’s seven-yard run to pay dirt. It was his third and final rushing touchdown of the night-carrying the ball a season-high 25 times for 62 yards.
On their ensuing possession, Lacayo drilled a 21-yard field goal-pulling Wichita to within four at 35-31 with 1:28 left in the third period. That’s when Ponder decided to roll the dice.
Nursing a four-point lead in the final seconds of the third and facing a fourth-and four at the Wichita 23, Ponder kept the offense on the field. The decision was costly when Floyd was stuffed for no gain.
Four plays later, Hubbard was back in the end zone again-diving in from two yards out giving Wichita their first lead since the 10:16 mark of the second period. Lacayo’s extra point hit the right upright and the Wild advantage was 37-35.
But Dodge City’s fate was sealed on their next drive. Facing another fourth down, Ponder again kept his offense on the field only to watch Jason Catchings catch Floyd behind the line for a 10-yard loss. The former East Central star recorded a game-high 16 tackles and three sacks.
Hinds provided a major blow just a few minutes later when he hit Jarrel Kelley for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The two would hook up on an even bigger, non-scoring play later in the fourth.
“Just too many mistakes tonight,” Law defensive lineman Jamar Seard said. “We clean up that and we probably win the game.”
The aforementioned play came on a third-and-seven at their own 21 with the Wild leading 44-38. Instead of dropping an extra man into coverage, Law defensive coordinator Todd Middleton called for a blitz-opening up the middle of the field. Hinds recognized it immediately and spiraled a pass right into the arms of Kelley, who worked his way down to the Dodge City nine-yard line. Four plays later, Lacayo’s 25-yard field goal put the game out of reach with 1:22 remaining.
The loss means the Law is likely headed for a road playoff game on June 13.
“Whether we’re at home or on the road, we need to bring it,” said wide receiver Brandon Venson, who caught four balls for 20 yards. “That’s what we have to do.”
The game seemed like a carbon copy of the first meeting when Wichita built an early 14-0 lead-thanks to a Hinds to Kassanavoid 2-yard hookup and Kendrick Harper’s 45-yard interception return for a touchdown. But the Law rallied-scoring on four straight possessions: two rushing touchdowns by Josh Floyd; a 23-yard TD pass from Young to Maurice Young and James Cody’s five-yard plunge.
Through the air, Floyd was 12-of-18 for 115 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Young caught three passes for 30 yards and a score.
Kelley grabbed a game-high six balls for 69 yards and a critical touchdown.
With two more wins, Wichita could lock up home field throughout the playoffs. Meantime Dodge City can still lock up the three seed with a win in their season finale against Kansas and some help from the Wild.
Next up: Dodge City vs. Kansas-Saturday, June 6-6:30 p.m. pregame; 7:05 p.m. kickoff on 98.1 FM; z98mobile.com and the all-new Z-98 mobile app
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