May 24, 2024

Dodge City takes back the hatchet

Photo by Adam Shrimplin

Listen to the complete game

Dodge City, KS-In his career as head coach, Dave Foster has been known as a pass-first play caller, one who has produced some of the most prolific quarterbacks in program history. But in recent years, there has been a change in philosophy.

The last two seasons, it was Dawson Williams providing the ground-game punch. In 2018, it’s Jaiel Johnson, whose career night on Friday, helped bring the hatchet back to Dodge City.

Johnson carried it 20 times for 242 yards while the defense held Garden City to just 194 total yards, as the Red Demons rolled to a 27-7 victory over their Western-Kansas rivals at Memorial Stadium. The win snapped a two-game losing streak vs. the Buffaloes at home.

“I promise everyone that it’s not an effort thing,” Garden City Coach Brian Hill said. “We are a young football team, and we don’t have the numbers.”

The Red Demons ground game was on full display during their opening drive. Johnson’s 36-yard run set Dodge City (4-3, 2-1) up at the Buffaloes 13. Three plays later, quarterback Beau Foster called his own number and scampered into the end zone from four yards out for a 6-0 edge (Lakin Scheck failed on the two-point conversion after a bad snap) with 9:11 to go in the first.

Meantime the Buffaloes had a tough time getting anything going offensively. With Carlos Acosta out with a concussion, Tye Davis made his first varsity start at quarterback. The results were mixed.

“I thought Tye did a pretty good job considering he hadn’t played since his freshman year,” Hill said.

The Buffaloes first drive resulted in a three-and-out. The second time they had the ball, Davis directed the offense near midfield, which included a 14-yard completion to Kaleb Lapointe. But on third-and-11, Davis’s pass to Lapointe was incomplete, and Garden City had to punt.

Garden City was afforded another scoring chance on their following possession when they marched to the Red Demons 27. But an incomplete pass, a false start and an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the threat.

“He (Davis) did what he needed to do in practice this week to get himself ready,” Hill explained. “But it’s tough to get three days of prep and go in there and do something.”

Despite their offensive struggles, the Buffaloes were only down six with the ball with 3:43 to go in the first half. But on first down, Reece Morss was stripped by Jashon Taylor, and Josh Harshberger recovered for Dodge City. Three plays later, Foster was back in the end zone on the heels of a one-yard plunge, putting the Red Demons up 13-0. Then, following a Garden City three-and-out, it was Johnson racing 37 yards to the house, capping off a stretch where the Red Demons scored 14 points in a matter of 1:42, putting them up 20-0 at the half.

“In the second half, we had two freshman defensive lineman and a sophomore defensive lineman out there,” Hill said. “They played well. I know it doesn’t help us now, but their future is bright.”

In the third quarter, Garden City (2-5, 2-1) caught a break when the Red Demons missed a 38-yard field goal. Davis then engineered an eight-play, 80-yard drive that featured Morss’s powerful 46-yard run that pushed the Buffaloes to the Red Demon 34. After converting a fourth-and-6, Davis hit Christian Reyes for 16 yards before sneaking across the goal line on the following play, to trim the deficit to 20-7 with 1:26 to play in the period.

That was the offense’s lone highlight of the night.

Dodge City put the game away in the fourth. Cedric Rosales’s easy interception near midfield eventually setup a nine-yard touchdown pass from Foster to Matt Friess, giving the Red Demons a commanding 27-7 edge with 4:54 remaining.

“We just couldn’t move the ball for most of the game,” Hill said. “But give credit to Dodge City’s defense. Those two tackles were two of the best we’ve faced this year.”

Davis finished the game 10-of-29 for 63 yards and two picks. Morss carried 23 times for 125 yards and Lapointe had five receptions for 30. Ethan Crone led the way with 14 tackles.

Foster was 7-of-11 for 34 yards and a touchdown for Dodge City, who moved into second place in the Western Athletic Conference. Johnson added a rushing touchdown, and Friess caught two balls for 34 yards and a touchdown.

Next up: Garden City at Great Bend, Friday, Oct. 19-6 p.m. kpreps; 6:30 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. kick on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app