Dodge City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-Dodge City Coach Sean Ponder doesn’t need to take things personal. He lets his players do all the talking.
In a game that pitted two coaches that spent half of last season on the same side, it was Ponder’s Law who sent a swift message to Omaha’s Demetrius Ross.
Josh Floyd threw four touchdown passes while running for another, and the Dodge City defense forced three Beef turnovers en route to a 69-45 victory Saturday night at United Wireless Arena.
“The guys played well on both sides of the ball,” Ponder said afterwards. “It makes me a really good coach when I have players like this.”
All week, Ponder was asked repeatedly about his relationship with Ross, who was released of his coaching duties in Dodge City last year after five games. His response: the status quo.
“I don’t play in these games,” Ponder said on Tuesday. “It’s not about the coaches; it’s about the guys who go out and play. I’ve been coaching this game for a long time, and if you take things personal, you’re not doing yourself any justice.”
He didn’t, but his players sure did.
Dodge City’s 27-point fourth quarter explosion turned a close game turn into a laugher. Veteran quarterback Chuck Wright, who was named the league’s offensive player of the week after his five touchdown performance in an upset win over Sioux City, was tossed around like a rag doll, taking back-to-back sacks on Omaha’s second to last possession of the game and throwing two, backbreaking interceptions. He was even benched for a series in the third quarter.
Meantime the Law offense, which struggled sustaining drives last week in Albuquerque, moved it at will against an Omaha defense that came in allowing the most points per game in Champions Indoor Football.
Dello Davis hauled in three passes for 63 yards, all of which went for scores, and all of which came in the final 15 minutes.
“I’m thinking touchdown every time I touch it,” Davis said. “It’s only a 50-yard field.”
And no play signified the type of night the second-year receiver had more than after the Law defense stopped Omaha (1-6) on fourth down from the 5. On the very next play, Davis reeled in Floyd’s sideline pass, spun off of Davon Bridges, and raced 45 yards for a touchdown. The score gave the Law a 55-30 advantage with 7:23 to go in the fourth.
Davis capped off his night with a 12-yard touchdown reception in the game’s final two minutes.
“Dello is a special player,” Ponder said. “He makes plays consistently.”
Omaha got the first laugh in the game when Dominique Carson’s 30-yard return on the opening kickoff was wiped away when Todd Adolf stripped him from behind and Rashad Rich recovered. Four plays later, Wright found Brandon Kinnie for a 26-yard touchdown to give the Beef a 7-0 lead.
“I had to act like that fumble never happened,” said Carson, who was celebrating his birthday on Saturday. “I blocked it out of my mind and moved forward.”
Dodge City (6-1) responded by driving 45 yards in six plays, capped off with Carson’s spectacular 15-yard touchdown run. He finished the night with 57 yards rushing on 12 carries and two scores. Alex Fambrough missed the extra point, and the Law trailed 7-6.
“Carson does so many things,” Ponder said. “He’s the best player in the league, and I feel very confident in saying that.”
The Law got the football back after Rico Brooks blocked Adolf’s 55-yard field goal attempt. Moments later, Davis took a jet sweep from Floyd and walked into the end zone. Dodge City added the two-point conversion to take a 14-7 advantage with 31 seconds to play in the first.
It didn’t take long for the Law to increase that lead. On the ensuing kickoff, AJ Downs coughed up the football; Jeffery Cameron picked it up and ran 10 yards for a touchdown, giving Dodge City a 21-7 cushion.
“That play might have been the biggest of the game,” Ponder said. “Special teams played very well tonight.”
But Omaha made things interesting early on, scoring the next time they had the ball when Allen Daniels surged in from six yards out. Adolf’s PAT made it a seven-point contest.
After Carson’s second touchdown early in the second made it 28-14 Dodge City, Omaha salvaged a drive when Adolf drilled a 43-yard field goal. His second longest kick of the season made it 28-17 Law with 10:19 left in the half.
The Beef pulled closer later in the second when Floyd was hit and fumbled the ball. Brandon Moton recovered, and Omaha had it back at the Dodge City 21. Eight plays later, Wright found Kinnie in the back left corner of the end zone for a five-yard scoring strike, slicing the Law lead to 28-14. It was the closest Omaha would get.
Floyd added a two-yard rushing touchdown, coupled with Justin Spruill’s interception of Wright in the end zone on fourth down near the end of the half, was the initial dagger.
Wright threw another pick on Omaha’s opening drive of the second half. On second-and-4 from his 18, Wright tried to force a pass to Rich. But Daejohn Love undercut the rout and made a shoestring interception. Five plays later, Floyd hit Carson on a screen pass and watched the league leader in all-purpose yards scamper up the right sideline for a seven-yard touchdown.
Omaha, who absorbed several body blows early on, scored just three points in the third quarter before the Law blew it open in the fourth, thanks in large part to Carson’s electrifying 48-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that gave the Law a 62-38 lead midway through the final period.
Wright finished the night 21-of-38 for 217 yards, four touchdowns and two picks. His backup Ty Houghton, replaced him early in the third, completing 2-of-3 for 33 yards including a 29-yard strike to Brian Boro on third-and-10 from inside the Beef 10.
Notes: The three turnovers forced by Dodge City’s defense was a season high…Dodge City has six sacks in their last two games (they had five in their previous five games combined)…Dodge City improved to 3-0 all-time vs. Omaha…Law receiver Maurice Young missed the game because of a hamstring injury…Defensive backs Courdney Sanders and Mark Sterling were also inactive…The Law lost Justin Spruill and Cashmin Thomas to injuries in the second half (Davis and Cameron played cornerback in the fourth quarter)
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