Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Maybe the best way to describe Saturday night’s showdown between Garden City and No. 19 Butler was the trauma ward; after all both teams came in significantly banged up. But by night’s end, the only thing traumatic was the final score.
Damarcus Smith threw for 322 yards and two scores, and the offense rolled up a school-record 662 total yards as Butler ran right through the depleted Busters 56-6 at Buster Stadium.
“We just didn’t get anything going in the second half,” Garden City Head Coach Matt Miller said afterwards. “In the first half, we missed way too many opportunities.”
That was the story of game, missed chances. None bigger than recovering a fumble in plus territory and not being able to punch it in.
Trailing 7-6 in the final seconds of the first quarter, Butler (6-3, 4-2) was facing a 2nd-and-10 from their own 2. Grizzlies’ offensive coordinator Tony Haynes dialed up the perfect play: a slant to tight end Andrew Reinkemeyer who bobbled and caught the line drive throw from Smith for first-down yardage. But as he tried to protect it with two hands, Garden City linebacker Kalil Gray jarred it loose, and the Busters recovered at the Butler 22.
“When you’re given field position like that, you have to do something with it, ” Miller said. “We didn’t.”
Including a penalty, the drive netted -3 yards. To salvage a scoring opportunity, Miller called upon freshman kicker Ismael Hernandez. But like his extra point earlier in the half, the line-drive, 42-yard kick was blocked, and Garden City was turned away with no points. You could feel the air beginning to come out of Buster Stadium.
“Our lines are decimated with injuries,” Miller said. “But that’s no excuse. Everything was going wrong; even our receivers were dropping balls.”
Butler took advantage of the Buster miscues-adding a 27-yard field goal by AJ La Rocca and a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Ja’mon Cotton to take a 16-6 lead into the break. And like sharks in the water, the Grizzlies smelled blood.
Butler scored on its first six possessions of the second half turning a 10-point game into a runaway.
After the Busters went three-and-out on their first possession of the third quarter, the Grizzlies answered quickly. Smith went up top to Bryce Chavis, who hauled in the perfect spiral and raced 25 yards to the end zone to make it 23-6.
Another Garden City three-and-out followed up by Dalton Buehler’s 22-yard rushing touchdown made it 29-6 (La Rocca missed the extra point).
The lead swelled to 36-6 later in the third when Koby McCrary capped off a nine-play, 54-yard drive with a one-yard scoring plunge. The freshman back was one of five rushers who reached the end zone as the Grizzlies ground game produced 245 yards on 31 carries.
In the final quarter, touchdown runs by Traevohn Wrench and backup quarterback Joel Blumenthal; sprinkled in with a four-yard touchdown pass from Blumenthal to Reinkemeyer put the finishing touches on the demolition.
“We just weren’t very sound on our coverages in the second half,” a dejected Alex Neuschafer said. “We just let the game get away from us.”
But truth-be-told, the game got away on the first play of the contest, when Smith lofted a pass to Arkansas transfer Marquel Wade, who made the catch in front of Lamonta Truitt and sprinted past the freshman for a 61-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Garden City made it competitive when Denarious Graham hit Dondre Cooksey for an 18-yard score. But Bakari Triggs blocked the extra point, indicative of how the rest of the night played out. Butler responded by scoring 49 unanswered points while the Busters went three-and-out on five of their seven second-half possessions.
Graham was solid for the most part-finishing 15-of-28, for 150 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Snell carried it six times for 50 yards, but only caught four balls for a career-low 18 yards and had three drops. Monterio Burchfield also dropped three passes while recording a six-catch, 63 yard night.
Smith was 22-for-32-hitting 11 different receivers; four of those had at least four catches. Michael Gallup was one of them-reeling in four balls for 76 yards. Chavis caught four for 37 yards and a score, while Reinkemeyer had four for 33 and a touchdown.
Notes: The 662 yards allowed by Garden City was the most since giving up 680 to Butler back on October 6, 2012…The Busters have been held under 20 points in three out of their last four games…In their five losses this season, Garden City has been outscored 218-72 (average margin of defeat 29 ppg)…It’s the first time all season Garden City had fewer than two turnovers…Butler recorded five sacks; the Grizzlies have sacked the likes of Nick Marshall, Akeem Jones, Jake Curran and Graham a total of 27 times in their last four meetings…Butler beat the Busters for the 19th consecutive time-earning their eighth straight victory in Garden City…Troy Morrell is now 19-3 all-time against Garden City… The Busters have lost 19 out of their last 20 against ranked opponents (0-3 this season)…Garden City was held under 300 total yards for just the second time this season and the fifth in 18 games under Miller…The loss assures Garden City of a losing record for the fifth time in the last six seasons
Next up: Garden City at Iowa Central-Saturday, November 1-11:30 a.m. pregame; 12 p.m. kick on 98.1 FM; z98mobile.com and the mobile app: KSKZ
Listen to the entire game in our archives section