Buffaloes’ ground game too much for Hays to handle

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Hays Defense

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Hays, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-Ever since Brian Hill took over the Garden City football program in 2010, he has always had a high-powered offense. In his sixth year, he finally has a dominant defense to compliment it.

The Buffaloes forced two turnovers and limited Hays to just 249 total yards while the offense racked up a season-high 450 as Garden City muscled past the Indians 38-14 Friday night at Lewis Field.

“Our defense has been unbelievable all season,” Hill said afterwards. “We’re just so physical.”

That physicality took a toll on Hays (1-3, 1-2) at the line of scrimmage, holding the once-vaunted Indians ground game to 185 yards on 50 carries.

“We were flying to the ball all night,” Hill said. “And we made big plays.”

The biggest of those came in the first quarter after a Jesse Nunez fumble. Hays moved the ball to the Buffaloes’ 21, but on fourth-and-6, Indians quarterback Kohlton Meyers was sacked by Christian Coreas for a 10-yard loss.

“That was definitely a game changer,” Hill said referring to his team’s eighth sack of the season. “It put our offense right back on the field.”

But they couldn’t capitalize.

Leading 3-0 early in the second, Garden City (4-0, 2-0) made their lone catastrophic mistake of the night when Jesse Nunez forced a third-down pass to Peyton Hill that Maddux Winter intercepted and returned 60 yards for a touchdown.

That lead was short lived.

On the first play of Garden City’s next offensive series, Jared Koster, who passed Greyson Tempel and Richard Delarosa for second on the Buffaloes all-time rushing list, took a handoff from Nunez, raced around left end and sprinted 83 yards for a touchdown to put the Brown and White back in front 10-7 with 11:32 remaining in the first half.

“He (Koster) had a different gear again tonight,” Hill said. “We just had to get him going, and we did.”

Following a Hays’ three-and-out, the Buffaloes marched 50 yards in three plays, 45 of those coming on Nunez’s 40-yard dash that set Garden City up first-and-goal from the Indians 5. On the very next snap, Peyton Hill steamrolled into the end zone. Zeke Herrera’s extra point gave the Buffaloes a 17-7 edge.

“Our offensive line continues to be the difference,” Hill explained. “They’re getting so much push off the ball.”

And the numbers showed it; Garden City rushed for a season-high 394 yards on 46 carries.

When it appeared like Hays was mounting a serious threat to score on their ensuing possession, the Buffaloes’ defense made a play, forcing an incomplete pass on fourth down from the Garden City 27.

Unlike Hays, the Buffaloes took advantage, marching 73 yards in 12 plays, converting two third downs and scoring on Nunez’s eight-yard scamper with 37 seconds left in the half.  

“We can just wear you down with those sustained drives,” Hill said. “It’s great to watch.”

The Buffaloes put the finishing touches on a dominant first half when Dakota Brungardt picked off Meyers heave down the middle of the field, securing Garden City’s 17-point cushion heading into the locker room.

That lead swelled to 24 early in the third when the Buffaloes forced a turnover at midfield. Meyers fumbled a second-down snap and Isaac Goytia recovered at the Indians 48. Eight plays later, Koster was back in the end zone, blasting in off right guard from one yard out.

The senior back was far from finished.

After Isaiah Blackmon’s four-yard touchdown pulled Hays to within 31-14 with 6:34 left in the game, it was Koster putting the final stamp on his finest night as a varsity player. His 88-yard touchdown dance down the left sideline solidified Garden City’s first 4-0 start since 2000.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Hill added. “But this feels good. These guys continue to improve week in and week out, and you’re seeing it every game.”

Garden City got on the board first when Herrera salvaged a 13-play opening drive with a 25-yard field.

Nunez finished the night 6-of-11 for 56 yards and a pick. He ran it 15 times for 112 and a score. Koster ran for a career-best 258 yards on 19 carries. He scored three times.

For Hays, Meyers completed just 2-of-10 passes for 29 yards and an interception. Hunter Brown had 19 carries for a team-best 91 yards.

Notes: Jared Koster moved up to No. 2 on the Buffaloes all-time rushing list (2,450 career yards); he’s now 183 yards from passing Broderick Smith for the top spot in school history…The last time Garden City started 4-0, James Mireles was in his first season in 2000 replacing Dave Meadows who resigned after the 1999 campaign…Buffaloes are now 15-18 all-time at Hays and have won three out of the last four games played at Lewis Field…Brian Hill is now 33-21; nine victories from passing Ed Hall for third on the all-time wins list at Garden City…Garden City held Hays to just 103 total yards and four first downs in the first half…It’s the second time this season Garden City has eclipsed 300 yards rushing

Next up: Garden City at Liberal-Friday, October 3, 2015-6 p.m. kpreps pregame; 6:30 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. kickoff on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and tuneinradio app: KWKR