May 24, 2024

Statement made; Buffs rebound by blowing out Liberal

Final Highlights

Game Stats: GCHS vs. Liberal

Garden City, Kan ( City Coach Brian Hill made a statement to his players this week with sweeping changes to his lineup. His guys responded with a statement of their own. 

Sophomore quarterback Jesse Nunez totaled seven touchdowns (four through the air and three on the ground) and Garden City avoided their first 1-4 start in more than 10 years with a 52-6 shellacking of rival Liberal Friday night at Buffalo Stadium. 

“The kids played really well,” Hill said afterwards. “We have a bunch of prideful kids, especially after what happened to us last week.”

This victory definitely softens the blow. But it wasn’t pretty early. Liberal sliced right through Garden City’s defense on their opening drive-marching 77 yards in 11 plays and scoring on Jared Hasik’s two-yard plunge. They missed the two-point conversion attempt and led 6-0. It was all Buffaloes from there. 

Garden City (2-3, 2-1) responded with an 11-play drive of their own-resulting in the go-ahead score: a 28-yard touchdown pass from Nunez to Caleb Tramp to make it 7-6. The senior receiver was far from finished. 

Following a Liberal punt, the Buffaloes went back to work from their own 46. After three plays netted just seven yards, it appeared the Redskins made a stop. But punter Peyton Hill was roughed-giving Garden City a fresh set of downs at the Liberal 48-yard line. Three plays later, Jared Koster, who entered Friday night with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games,  made Liberal pay with a six-yard scoring reception from Nunez-giving Garden City a 14-6 lead with 9:50 to play in the half. 

“The offensive line did its job for us again,” Hill said. “Those guys continue to improve each and every week.”

And although Koster didn’t hit the century mark for a fourth straight week (he finished with 14 carries for 93 yards), he left his mark in other areas; totaling 119 all-purpose yards and two touchdown receptions. 

Koster made his presence felt again after another Liberal three-and-out. Starting with a short field at their own 47, the Junior broke containment; bounced it to the outside and raced 51 yards to the Redskins’ 2-yard line. Two plays later, Nunez was in the end zone again-calling his own number on an option read and giving the Buffaloes a 21-6 advantage with 6:18 to go in the first half. 

“We tried to utilize our talent the best that we can,” Hill said. “We want to put our players in the best position to make a play.”

Those plays came fast and furious in a second quarter that saw Garden City score on four straight possessions, including the exclamation point: a nine-yard rushing touchdown by Nunez-putting the Buffaloes up 28-6 going into the locker room. 

“He (Nunez) played well,” Hill said. He made some mistakes, but for the most part, he’s getting better.”

The sophomore quarterback finished 9-of-17 for 186 yards and four touchdowns. He did throw two red-zone interceptions, but on homecoming night, the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. 

The onslaught continued in the third as the Buffaloes added a Zeke Herrera 38-yard field goal to make it 31-6. They followed that up with Koster’s second touchdown reception of the night; a play that defined what a spectacular season the junior is having. Following a Jared Carroll fumble that gave Garden City the ball at the Redskins’ 20, Koster caught a Nunez screen pass up the left sideline; broke two tackles; reversed field and sprinted into the end zone for a touchdown. The run earned a fist pump from Hill who saw his team take a dominating 38-6 lead. 

Tramp continued his sensational night on the next series-hauling in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Nunez. The senior finished with five catches for 135 yards and two scores. 

The Buffaloes closed out the scoring early in the fourth-when Nunez finished off an eight-play, 77-yard drive with a two-yard dive to pay dirt.

Garden City’s defense was lights out-allowing just 140 total yards (77 of that came on Liberal’s opening drive). In fact, the Redskins mustered just four first downs over the final three quarters. 

Hasik completed only 1-of-8 passes for 20 yards. His lone completion came on Liberal’s first offensive play of the game. Rex Heronemus was held to just 46 yards on 11 carries. 

Notes: The Buffaloes beat Liberal for a seventh straight time (Liberal’s last win in this series came back in 2007) and a fifth straight time in Garden City (Liberal’s last win there was in 2004) …The Redskins have now lost 24 out of their last 25 Western Athletic Conference games…The Buffaloes turned it over two more times bringing their season total to 17 through five games (They had nearly half of that through the same amount of games a year ago). 

Next up: Garden City at Wichita East-Friday, October 10-6:30 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. kickoff on 99.9 FM; and mobile app: KWKR

Listen to the full game in our archives section