May 30, 2024

Acosta’s pick in final seconds seals Buffalo win


Game Stats

Listen to the complete game in our archives section

Pictures by Adam Shrimplin

Hays, KS-Brian Hill is quickly etching his name in stone as one of the best coaches in Garden City High School history. On Friday night, his team added another impressive feat to a season already full of them.

The scary thing is: they’ve only played four games.

Garret Doll threw for 170 yards and a touchdown, Carlos Acosta intercepted Hunter Brown’s last-second heave in the end zone, and the Buffaloes held on to beat Hays 7-3 at Lewis Field. With the win, Garden City improved to 4-0 for a third straight season, something that had not been done since 1921.

“It goes to show how much hard work this staff and these players have put it in,” Hill said after the game.

And while starting 4-0 may seem impressive, what Dominick Dingle’s defense has done through 16 quarters is absolutely mind boggling.

The Buffaloes held the Indians to just 82 total yards, 21 of those came on Hays’ final drive of the night. Garden City has now held their opponent under 100 yards in three out of their first four games.

“What Coach Dingle has done is amazing,” Hill said. “He does so much for this program, and he means the world to it. He’s been by my side for a long time.”

Leading 7-3 with just under a minute to play, the Indians got the ball back at their own 44 with no timeouts. After three straight incomplete passes, Hays was facing a fourth-and-10. To that point, Brown had not completed a pass all night.

“Our defense was all over them tonight,” Hill said. “But Hays did what we expected them to do for the most part, with the exception of a few wrinkles.”

Throwing into the wind, the senior quarterback finally delivered, hitting Palmer Hutchison for 11 yards and a first down. On the very next play, Brown connected with Keaton Markley down the middle for 10 more. After a roughing the passer penalty, the Indians were setup first-and-10 at the Garden City 25 with eight seconds to go.

“We should never have been in that situation, with the other team having a chance to win the game,” Hill explained. “We have to be more consistent on offense, and not put our defense in those situations.”

With one final crack at the end zone, Brown took his chance, muscling a pass into a stiff 30 mph wind. As the ball hung up, Acosta positioned himself perfectly, pulling down his league-leading third interception of the season, and keeping Garden City’s perfect start in order.

“Carlos Acosta is one of the most coachable kids I have ever had,” Hill said. “He does exactly what we ask him to do. It’s amazing that he’s only a sophomore.”

Acosta’s theft was only the beginning of the story, as the Buffalo defense stymied the Indians, forcing them into four three-and-outs in nine total possessions. They gave up just 33 yards over the final 24 minutes.

“It’s definitely something we take pride in,” said safety David Arteaga, who finished with two tackles while catching four balls for 56 yards and a touchdown. “It’s something we talk about all the time: stopping the other team from scoring.”

Mission accomplished, which may be the biggest understatement of the century.

To no one’s surprise, the first half played out as a defensive struggle, with each team throwing haymakers at the other. The Buffaloes best chance to score early was late in the first quarter when they moved the ball from their own 33 to the Indians 15. After failing to pick up a first down, Anthony Flores was summoned for a 24-yard field goal. But the low, line-drive kick ricocheted off of the crossbar, and the game remained scoreless.

While the Buffaloes showed a propensity to move the ball up and down the field, Hays never crossed the 50 in the first half.

With less than four minutes remaining until halftime, Garden City got the ball back. Doll went to work, hitting Lane Durst for 17 yards before finding Arteaga on back-to-back hookups-that moved them into scoring range. On first-and-10 from the Indians 21, Doll looked off of receiver Tye Davis, who had drawn two defenders, while backup running back Avey Arana picked up a blitzing linebacker allowing Doll the time to float a perfect spiral to Arteaga in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

“The offensive line deserves a lot of credit, but so does Avey,” Hill said. “He took a shot to allow Garret an extra second to throw the ball.”

The score stayed that way until early in the third when Hays (2-2, 2-1) forced a Buffalo punt from their own 13. Setup with a short field, the Indians moved their way down to the Garden City 15. On third-and-7, fullback Dylan Schmidtberger was stuffed by Demarcus Elliott and Jasper Partin for a one-yard loss. Moments later, Logan Clark drilled a 33-yard field goal to cut the Buffalo lead to 7-3 with 7:11 remaining in the period.

After that, the Garden City defense stiffened again, and did not allow Hays to cross midfield until their final drive.

“This team will not apologize for who we have played,” Hill said. “Nobody was saying anything in my first few years here when we were 5-4 or 5-5. We play who is on our schedule.”

Doll was sharp again, completing 14-of-24 passes for Garden City, who won their sixth straight road game. Lapointe carried 18 times for 33 yards, and Davis caught four balls for 49.

Brown finished the night just 2-of-10 for 21 yards for Hays, who lost for the ninth time in their last 11 games at home.

Next up: Garden City at Liberal-Friday, September 29-6 p.m. kpreps; 6:30 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. kick on 99.9 FM; and KWKR mobile app