May 26, 2024

Buffaloes win another heart stopper


Game Stats

Listen to the complete game in our archives section

Photos by Adam Shrimplin

Liberal, KS-This just in: Carlos Acosta is pretty good!

Need more proof? Look no further than the sophomore’s contribution in Friday night’s slugfest with Western Athletic Conference rival Liberal.

Acosta snagged his league-leading fourth interception in the closing minute while blocking a critical extra point in the fourth quarter, as Garden City overcame their first deficit of the season to beat the Redskins 28-27 at Cornelson Sports Complex.

“He’s (Acosta) so beyond his years,” Head Coach Brian Hill said. “It’s incredible that he’s only a sophomore.”

And Garden City needed every bit of their young star’s performance to prevail.

Leading by seven with less than six minutes to play, the Buffaloes were trying to milk the clock. But on second-and-13 from their own 46, quarterback Garret Doll fumbled the ball. Cesar Burciaga picked it up for Liberal (3-2, 0-2), and raced 40 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.

That’s when Acosta made the biggest play of game.

Lined up on the left, the sophomore sprinted towards Burciaga on the extra point, lunging in the nick of time to block the game-tying kick, preserving a 28-27 advantage with 5:23 left.

“There are certain things that Carlos does that you can’t teach,” Hill said. “That said: he takes coaching so well. And it shows on the field.”

Liberal still had their chance to pull off the upset. And after forcing a Garden City (5-0, 2-0) punt near midfield, the Redskins started to drive, getting a 10-yard completion from Syris Dunlap to Tyrique Chandler that moved the ball to the Buffalo 48. But after Jasper Partin’s tackle for loss and a penalty, the Redskins were facing second-and-24.

“We needed to make a play, and we did,” Hill explained.

For the second straight week, it was Acosta, snatching a late-game interception, giving the Buffaloes the ball back at the Liberal 49. But Garden City left the door wide open when Quinton Lapointe fumbled on the very next play, giving the Redskins new life.

“We can’t give teams opportunities like that,” Hill said. “We were very fortunate.”

Liberal had a head of steam, and Dunalp seized the momentum by hitting Chandler for 24 yards down to the Garden City 36. But three plays later, the sophomore quarterback was hoping deception would fool the Buffaloes secondary. Boy was he wrong.

Dunlap used a shoulder fake before launching a bomb down the right sideline for Chandler. Both Acosta and David Arteaga were in position. This time it was the senior safety grabbing the Buffaloes second pick in 60 seconds, giving Garden City their 10th straight victory over the Redskins.

“Our coaches made adjustments at halftime,” Hill said. “But that’s what good teams do. They find a way.”

In the first half, the Redskins sliced their way through a defense that through 16 quarters, appeared impenetrable. And after Garden City took a 7-0 lead following Lapointe’s one-yard touchdown run that was setup by Kaleb Lapointe’s 55-yard interception return, Liberal answered resoundingly. On third-and-5 from their own 30, Dunlap called his own number, scampering untouched up the middle for a 70-yard touchdown that tied the game 7-7 with 4:25 to go in the first.

“It’s not going to be perfect every week,” Hill said. “We knew that scoreless streak wouldn’t last forever.”

The Buffaloes did not have their heads down for long. On their next drive, Doll hit Derrick Sexton for 16 yards on a critical third-and-12. After a false start, the senior signal caller went for broke, connecting with Arteaga on a post for a 52-yard touchdown that gave Garden City a 14-7 lead late in the opening quarter.

“Garret Doll is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached,” Hill said. “Some of the throws he made with pressure in his face, were fantastic tonight.”

None epitomized that statement more than Doll’s most dazzling play of the season late in the first half.

After the Redskins seized control with a five-yard touchdown run by Alan Marquez, which was followed up by Burciaga’s interception that set up Dunlap’s second touchdown run from nine yards out, the offense needed a spark trailing 21-14 with less than two minutes to go in the half.

Enter Doll, who first hit Lapointe for 20 yards on a screen. Four plays later, the Buffaloes had a second-and-6 at the Liberal 26. As Doll dropped back, Redskins defensive lineman Elwin Trejo grabbed the senior by the facemask and had him dead to rights. But Doll spun away from him, got a block from Demarcus Elliott, refocused down field, and hit a wide-open Arteaga for the game-tying touchdown.

“Those are the types of plays that define who Garret is,” Hill said. “He did all of that despite a facemask penalty. That was incredible.”

In the fourth quarter, Doll made another sensational play, but he was outshined by receiver Tye Davis.

Facing a fourth-and-11 at the Liberal 30, Hill kept his offense on the field. It was a gamble worth taking, especially considering the result.

Doll stood in and absorbed another major hit from Trejo. As the ball spiraled towards the end zone, Davis had to turn completely around, grabbing it away from safety Jesse Alvarado for the go-ahead score with 8:58 to play.

“I can’t even describe that play by Tye,” Hill said. “He literally had to adjust his entire body to make that catch.”

Davis finished the night with three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. His throwing mate Doll was 16-of-20 for 224 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while Lapointe went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the second time this season-totaling 102 on 21 carries with a touchdown.

Dunlap was 7-of-16 for 99 yards and three interceptions for Liberal, who lost for the 16th time in their last 17 conference games. Dunlap did become the first 100-yard rusher against the Buffalo defense, going for 101 on 10 carries with two scores. Chandler had five catches for 76 yards.

Next up: Garden City at Wichita Northwest-Friday, Oct. 6-6 p.m. K-preps; 6:30 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. kick on 99.9 FM; and KWKR mobile app