May 22, 2024

Mistakes kill; Dodge smokes Garden at home

Final Highlights: GCCC vs. DCCC

GCCC vs. DCCC Final Stats

Dodge City, Kan ( all things that start well end well. Just ask Garden City Head Coach Matt Miller, who watched his team storm out of the gates, only to falter in the second half. 

Deondre Ford threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, while the offense rolled up 560 total yards in a 41-21 victory over the Busters at Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon. 

“The Big play killed us,” Miller said afterwards. “We did a good job initially stopping the run. But we got them in long-yardage situations, and they made plays. 

The Buster defense was torched on the ground for 197 yards on 27 carries. They also allowed five plays of 20 yards or more; three of those went for touchdowns. To put that into perspective: Garden City allowed only 30 such plays a year ago. 

“We just didn’t execute today,” Miller said. 

Early in the game, it seemed as if this would be an encore of last year’s beat down that Garden City (1-1) handed Dodge. Especially after Trevin Wiens intercepted Ford on the first play of the game. Two plays later, Undre Williams took an option pitch from Danarious Graham and sprinted 25 yards to the end zone giving the Busters a 7-0 lead. 

“You know he (Williams) was fighting an injury all week,” Graham said. “It was good to see him healthy and performing well.”

Williams finished the afternoon with 15 carries for 84 yards and two scores. 

After the Conquistadors (1-1) went three-and-out on their second possession, Garden City started to march down the field again. On second-and-11 from their own 32, Graham floated a perfect pass to Monterio Burchfield, who hauled it in down the right sideline and rumbled to the Dodge City 38. But Trey Williamson’s sack on third-and-10 short circuited the drive that eventually ended with a turnover on downs. 

Garden City squandered another scoring chance in the first quarter when Brandon Snell returned Steve Knoche’s punt 57-yards to the Conquistadors’ 23. But two plays later, Graham forced a pass to Burchfield that was picked off by Elijah Battle at the two-yard line. That turnover awoke a sleeping giant. 

Facing a third-and-three at their own nine, Dodge City Head Coach Gary Thomas called for a post pattern. He got the matchup and the result he was hoping for. Ford dropped back and lofted a spiral down the seam to an open Christian Booker, who outraced the Buster secondary for a 91-yard touchdown. Dillon Burkhard’s extra point tied the game 7-7 with with 7:51 to play in the first. 

“We’ll have to go back and look at the film,” Miller said. “We had some breakdowns for sure. We have a lot of teaching point for these guys.”

Garden City had a chance to retake the lead on their next possession, but Ismael Hernandez pushed a 31-yard field wide to the left ending a 12-play, 58-yard drive with no points. 

Following the errant kick, Dodge City marched 80 yards in 8 plays-punctuating the drive with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Ford to Jeff George giving the Conqs a 14-7 advantage early in the second. 

Trailing for the first time all day, the Busters went right back to work. Graham hit Snell on a 38-yard strike that set Garden City up at the Conquistadors’ 46. Two plays later, it was Williams taking a hand off and finding a crease-weaving his way to the one-yard line. After a false start pushed the ball back to the six, Miller called on Williams again. This time, the redshirt-freshman delivered, taking a pitch from Graham and steamrolling into the end zone to tie the game. 

A few minutes later, Dodge went back ahead when backup running back Mark Thompson bulled his way across the goal line from three yards out. Burkhard missed the extra point and the Conquistadors led 20-14 with 2:16 to play in the half. The freshman kicker would also miss a 40-yard field goal on the final play of the quarter. 

In the second half, Dodge extended their cushion on the first possession of the third quarter-driving eight plays to the Garden City nine-yard line. Then, on first-and-goal, Ford showed off a gorgeous play fake, rolled to his right and hit a wide open William French for a touchdown to give the Conqs a 27-14 lead.

That lead swelled to 20 points just minutes later when Keymonne Gabriel surged through the line and ran 80 yards to the house. Once he reached the end zone, Gabriel showed off some pretty impressive dance moves for the home crowd. He also rolled up 121 yards rushing on just 12 carries.

Garden City had a chance to get back in the game on their next sequence. But Graham, who had 18 carries on the afternoon, was stripped of the football on a quarterback draw and Dodge City recovered. 

Later in the third, the Busters bounced back, moving the ball to the Dodge City nine. On third and goal, Graham hit Snell on a fade in the back, right corner of the end zone-pulling Garden City to within striking distance at 34-21. 

Garden City got the ball right back when Ford’s pass to George was jarred loose by Sam Green, deflected into the air and intercepted by Alex Neuschafer. But their scoring chances were derailed when a questionable spot on a fourth-down run halted the drive at the Dodge City 12. On the play, Graham rolled around right end and appeared to dive inside the 10 (he only needed to get to the 12). But the officials said the freshman was short of the first down and awarded the Conquistadors the ball. 

“I asked for a measurement,” Miller said. He dove inside the 10. They took it back two and a half yards. But they made the call and that’s that.”

A score there would have made it a one possession game. 

The Conqs next drive ended the same way as their previous. On second-and-10 from their own 40, Ford was intercepted again by Wiens who stepped out at the Garden City 37. 

From there, the Busters picked up two third downs and a fourth down conversion to move the ball to the Dodge City 26. But back-to-back incompletions and a two-yard run by Graham made it fourth-and-8. That’s when Thomas instructed his defense to send the house. The all-out-blitz forced an early throw from Graham, whose pass fell incomplete up the left sideline-giving possession back to the Conquistadors. And they made Garden City pay. 

Needing a stop with five minutes to play, the Busters switched things up. They sent five men after the quarterback on third-and-8 from the Dodge 37. Ford quickly assessed the situation and fired a dart to Booker, who raced all the way to the Dodge City one before Sam Green tripped him up. Three plays later, the Conqs salted the game away on Thompson’s second rushing touchdown. He finished with 11 carries for 61 yards and two scores. 

Booker tallied a game-high 169 yards on four receptions. French added six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. 

Lawyer Davis hauled in four balls for 56 yards, but had a couple of key drops in the second half. Snell finished with four catches for 55 yards and a score. 

Notes: Dodge City won for only the second time in the last 37 meetings against Garden City…After being penalized only six times in week one, the Busters were flagged 12 times for 79 yards on Saturday…Garden City fumbled the ball four times and lost one (last week in the same stadium, Dodge also fumbled four times)…The 562 yards allowed by Garden City is the most in 12 games under Miller…Graham suffered a leg injury in the second quarter when Jacob Harschberger landed on him; Tyler Lasalle finished the first half but did not attempt a pass; Graham returned to start the third later saying it was a calf injury

Next up: Garden City (1-1) at Ellsworth, IA (1-1); Saturday, September 13-12:30 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m kick on 98.1 FM; and the all-new mobile app: KSKZ

Jayhawk Scoreboard Week 2

Highland 42, Benedictine JV 7

Iowa Central 28, Independence 0

Iowa Western 36, Butler 30

Coffeyville 58, Ellsworth 13

Hutchinson 55, Fort Scott 10