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Dodge City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-More than a month ago, Dodge City Coach Sean Ponder was sitting back in his office chair when he made a pretty big proclamation:
“Dominique Carson has to have one of those special games,” he said. “We haven’t seen that type of performance yet. And I know he has it in him.”
In Carson’s defense, his first few games back from an ankle injury served as a warmup. Saturday, the reigning special team’s player of the year was back in full form.
Carson scored five touchdowns in less than 30 minutes of action, Derrick Bernard tallied eight of his own, and the Law crushed San Angelo 90-46 at United Wireless Arena.
The win coupled with Amarillo’s loss to Wichita, put Dodge City in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 playoff spot in the South.
“It was just a good overall performance by our guys,” Ponder said afterwards. “We just stayed in the scheme and did what we were supposed to do.”
It also makes it a lot easier when you have No. 21.
After San Angelo (2-8) cut the Law lead to 35-34 with 4:22 to play in the first half, it was Carson who answered the bell.
The league’s fourth leading rusher scored from 14 yards out to pad the Dodge City advantage. It was also part of a stretch in which Dodge City scored 35 straight points to put the game away.
“He’s (Carson) a special player,” Ponder explained. “He can do so many different things, and tonight, he sparked the offense.”
Carson scored five of the seven times he touched the ball in the first half. He finished the night with 58 yards rushing and was a spectator for the final 30 minutes of the game.
The rest of the offense took it from there.
On their first series of the third quarter, Bernard engineered a seven-play, 42-yard drive that saw him scamper 31 yards on first-and-10 from his own 18. Three plays later, the first-year quarterback punched his ticket to the end zone from a yard out, giving Dodge City (7-3) a 63-34 lead.
Following a fourth-down stop, the Law scored again, this time it was Bernard finding a wide-open Daniel McKinney in the end zone for a three-yard touchdown, and a 70-34 edge.
“It was just good overall game planning,” Ponder said regarding Bernard’s performance. “Guys were doing what they were supposed to do. If Bernard or McKinney don’t win rookie of the year, I will be very surprised.”
Bernard’s most impressive pass of the night came early in the fourth, when he looked off safety Donovan Todd and fired a pellet to McKinney up the seam for a 19-yard score to make it 83-46.
“I’m still learning different things about this game,” Bernard said. “It all comes down to making plays.”
Bernard added a one-yard plunge in the final three minutes, and Jared Wood booted through the extra point to give Dodge City a franchise-record 90 points.
“Our motivation is to get a home playoff game in front of these fans,” Ponder said. “These guys know what’s at stake.”
The Bandits made things interesting early, taking a 6-0 lead on Chris Mitchell’s five-yard touchdown pass to Larry Cobb.
After Carson’s three-yard score put the Law in front 7-6, it was Mitchell hitting Mychal Lemon for a three-yard td to make it 12-7 San Angelo.
Their last lead came when Mitchell found Cobb again for a six-yard score to put the Bandits on top 18-13 with 14:50 to go in the first half.
Dodge City regained the advantage when Carson sprinted 11 yards to the house to give the Law a 20-18 lead.
But the play that changed the game came on San Angelo’s ensuing possession. Facing a fourth-and 12 from their own 12, Jacorey Quarterman sacked Mitchell at the 1. That led to Bernard’s one-yard rushing touchdown that put the Law up 28-18 with 7:48 to go in the second quarter.
“Our defense was lights out again,” Ponder said. “They made plays.”
They also limited the Bandits to just 12 points over the final 34 minutes of action.
Bernard finished the night 15-of-21 for 166 yards and five touchdown. He added 51 yards rushing on 15 carries and three scores. McKinney had five catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns, while Venson reeled in four balls for 42 yards and two scores.
Mitchell was 18-of-32 for 180 yards and six touchdowns but was sacked four times. Antonio Bray caught three passes for 59 yards and two scores.
Notes: The win coupled with Amarillo’s loss moved the Law into sole possession of second place in the CIF South (the top three teams advance to the playoffs with the No. 1 seed earning a first-round bye)…McKinney has now caught a touchdown pass in seven straight games…The 90 points scored set a new franchise record, breaking the previous mark of 89 set earlier this season in a win over Texas…The Law held the Bandits to just 96 total yards in the second half and 135 over the final three quarters
Next up: Dodge City at Mesquite, TX-Saturday, May 28-6:30 p.m. pregame; 7:05 p.m. kick on 98.1 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kskz; mobile app: KSKZ and tuneinradio app: KSKZ