February 29, 2024

A fast first-half start and strong defense in the second half propel Garden City over Dodge City in 85th Hatchet Game

Photo Courtesy of Matt Henderson | Sports Director - Catch It Kansas

Wichita, Kan (WesternKansasNews.Com) – The Hatchet Game has always been more than just a game; that was the case on Saturday night. In a new wrinkle to the series, the 85th Hatchet Game and the 125th meeting of all time was outside Dodge City or Garden City for the first time in the game’s history. Regardless of the location, Garden City was able to get the job done beating Dodge City 28-14.

The game started as it has many times this season for Garden City. The Buffaloes forced a three-and-out on Dodge City’s first drive of the game, and after four plays Ryan Heiman took a flip from quarterback Caleb Wiese for 66 yards to score the first points of the game. After another Red Demons’ three-and-out Garden City responded with nearly a 10-minute drive, a lot of that on the ground from the likes of Zack Keosengphet, Caleb Wiese, and Jerry Artega. That 2nd drive was finished by a 3 yard sneak into the endzone. Just like that the Buffaloes were up 14-0. 

Dodge City would start to resist at this point as Frio Vontress returned the ensuing Garden City kickoff to the Garden City 35 setting up Dodge City with great field position. A minute later with 7:42 left in the 1st half Dodge City cashed in for their first score of the game on a Daelyn Unzueta 2-yard run. Garden City would look to respond as the Red Demons had their first taste of momentum all game long. 

The Buffs would respond with another drive powered by the ground game. Garden City cashed in with a 17-yard run by Zack Keosengphet, who had his 4th straight game of over 100 rushing yards. Garden City favored the left side of the line that was able to open holes with freshly inserted left guard Garrett Messenger who missed last week’s game with an injury. Garden City was able to get the push they needed up front all night long. 

With only a few minutes left in the first half and the Buffaloes in control, Dodge City was looking for a home run. That’s when Red Demons quarterback Kaden Garvelana let go of a throw across his body that was read perfectly by Caleb Wiese. Wiese took the interception all the way to the house en route to his first pick 6 of his career. The total yardage was 56 yards and Garden City went into halftime with all the momentum up 28-7.

With the Buffs in control Dodge was never really able to recover as the Garden City defense held them to just 7 points in the 2nd half and Garden City rolled to a 28-14 win. Regaining the Hatchet and remaining the 2nd seed in 6A west playoff standings.

It was the second time this senior class has won the Hatchet as they will end their careers 2-2 vs. Dodge City. Garden City (6-1) will finish up their regular season with postseason aspirations on Friday vs. Great Bend (5-2). The Panthers enter the matchup on a 5 game-winning streak. You can listen to the game from Buffalo Stadium on 99.9 The Rock as Baylen Hite and Aaron Elam will be on the call with Dalton Janousek on the sidelines. Tune in for pregame at 6:30 pm and kickoff at 7 pm.