Hutchinson, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Not since 2010 had Garden City faced top-five opponents in back-to-back weeks. And just like four years ago, they didn’t fair so well in either contest.
Tennessee commit Alvin Kamara rushed for 133 yards; scored three times and the Hutchinson defense forced six Garden City turnovers in a 44-14 rout at Gowan’s Stadium on Saturday night.
“We had opportunities in the first half to make this a ball game,” Buster Head Coach Matt Miller said. “But it was like ground hog day from last week. We just couldn’t capitalize.”
And just like last week, the mistakes came early and often. On the second play from scrimmage from his own 24, freshman Danarious Graham was picked off by Darius Wright, who returned it to the Buster 7-yard line. Two plays later, Kamara made Garden City (3-3, 2-2) pay with a one-yard blast up the middle-giving No. 5 Hutchinson a 7-0 lead.
“Alvin Kamara is the real deal,” Miller said. “We couldn’t bring him down all night.”
It almost appeared like the freshman tailback had Vaseline all over his jersey, because would-be tacklers slipped off him the entire game. That was evident on his second touchdown run. Facing a third-and-1 from their own 35, Kamara took a hand off from Dalton Demos, broke two tackles at the line of scrimmage and raced 65 yards to the end zone-putting the Blue Dragons in front 14-0. The Hutch ground game produced 236 yards on 38 carries.
“We’ve got plays out there; we just have to execute, Miller said.”
Execution failed Garden City big time on their ensuing drive. Miller’s team took 12 plays to move to the Hutch 20-yard line-utilizing a big third-down catch by Matt McDonald that gained 23 yards. But on third-and-13 in the red zone, Graham forced a pass to Brandon Snell, which was intercepted by Lakel Bass at the seven.
“We’re going through some growing pains with a young quarterback,” Miller said. But he’s a special talent. When it all clicks, he’ll be a special talent.”
It only took the Blue Dragons (7-0, 5-0) six plays to capitalize. After moving the ball to their own 42-yard line, Hutch was staring at a third-and-7. Garden City sent the house and backup quarterback Kylen Binn read it perfectly-dumping it off in the left flat for Travis Custis, who cut it up field and sprinted 58 yards to the Buster end zone. Kassidy Lemons extra point gave Rhoades’ squad a 21-0 cushion with 11:46 to play in the half.
Hutch got another scoring chance later in the second when Graham scrambled up the middle and was stripped of the football. Jarrod Sanders recovered at the Busters’ 36. Five plays later, the Blue Dragons were back in the end zone on the heels of a seven-yard strike from Demos to h-back John Gilbertson-making it 28-0 with 4:48 left in the second.
To make matters worse, the Busters’ offensive line was severely short handed against arguably the best front seven in the nation. Center Mitch Moore, who missed the game with a sprained ankle, was sorely missed on Garden City’s next drive, which ended when Graham, who was under duress, cocked to throw and simply lost the ball. Marquavius Lewis pounced on top of it and Hutch had it back at the Buster 49. It was one of four first half turnovers.
On the very next play, Kamara, weaved through traffic and rumbled 40 yards to the Garden City 9-yard line. After a two-yard run on first down, Demos gave the ball back to the Alabama transfer, who steamrolled his way into the end zone from seven yards out. That score put the finishing touches on a dominating 30 minutes that saw Hutch score on five of their seven possessions in the first half.
Garden City salvaged their final drive of the second quarter when Graham hooked up with Snell on a 51-yard bomb down the left sideline. On the play, Snell beat Tyler Williams and made a sensational one-handed catch before he was pushed out of bounds at the Hutch 25. After a pass interference penalty moved the ball inside the 10, Graham went back to his sophomore wide out; this time for six in the back left corner of the end zone. The touchdown strike was bitter sweep-considering the Busters were in a 35-7 hole heading into the locker room.
The only thing that changed in the second half was Hutch adding to their 28-point lead. Early in the third, Garden City was set to punt inside their own five. Inexplicably, Lawyer Davis, took the snap, rolled right and was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
“I don’t know what he (Davis) was doing on that play, but we’ll address it this week,” Miller said.
Leading 37-7, Hutch went for the kill. Starting from their own 37 with 10:33 left in the third, Demos methodically marched his team down the field. First he found Kamara for a 22-yard catch-and-run on third-and-10 from his own 37. Then it was Bryce Harvey hauling in a 15-yard reception in front of Trayvone Blake. Finally, Custis put an exclamation mark on the six-play drive when he scooted 17 yards for the score-giving the Blue Dragons an insurmountable 44-7 lead. Custis finished the night with two touchdowns and 146 all-purpose yards.
Late in the fourth, Miller replaced Graham with freshman Tyler Lasalle, who directed a 54-yard scoring drive-hitting Snell on an 11-yard slant in the end zone. The former Louisville commit recorded his eighth-career 100-yard receiving game-catching six passes for a 104 yards and two scores. His teammate Monterio Burchfield one upped him with a seven-catch, 121-yard performance-tying a career high in receiving yards.
Lasalle led the Busters in rushing for a second straight week-carrying the ball three times for 28 yards. Graham put in another uneven performance-completing 18-of-34 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown. But the freshman threw three costly interceptions.
Demos finished 8-of-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown. Binn completed 8-of-17 passes for 106 yards and a score. Harvey caught five balls for 41 yards while Custis grabbed two receptions for 101 yards.
Notes: Garden City’s touchdown in the second, ended a five-quarter scoreless streak dating back to the Independence game…Graham has now thrown 10 interceptions in his last three games-bringing his season total to 12…It was the fourth time this season the Busters turned it over three or more times (4 vs. Highland; 5 vs. Ellsworth; 3 vs. Iowa Western; 6 vs. Hutchinson)…The Busters have dropped seven straight to the Blue Dragons and three consecutive contests at Gowans Stadium…Rhoades improved to 8-1 all-time as a head coach against the Busters (seven of those wins in Hutch; one of them in Fort Scott)…Hutch has recorded an interception in 15 straight games and 25 out of their last 26
Next up: Garden City vs. Fort Scott-Saturday, October 18-6:30 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. kick on 98.1 FM; z98mobile.com and the mobile app: KSKZ
Listen to the entire game in our archives section