COFFEYVILLE, Kan. – Conquistadors quarterback Trey Jefferson threw three long touchdown passes and the defense forced two turnovers as Dodge City fought past Coffeyville 26-17.
The Red Ravens came into the season with high expectations as they were ranked in the NJCAA preseason poll and were picked to finish second in the conference. It will be especially tough to live up to those expectations now after two losses to open up the season and very little offense to show for 120 minutes of football.
Dodge City came into the game with momentum despite their 0-1 record as they gave defending national champions Iowa Western a real fight at Memorial Stadium last week, a game where there defense played particularly well.
Things didn’t start off strong for the Conqs offense as they gained a total of seven offensive yards in the first quarter. They recovered two of their own fumbles on their opening drive and went nowhere as their first three drives resulted in punts.
While Dodge’s offense struggled, Coffeyville got a drive going midway through the opening quarter powered by a 3rd-and-15 conversion on a 16-yard strike from Red Ravens quarterback Connor Apo to Markerious Johnson. Ozzario Smith did the rest of the damage on the ground getting Coffeyville inside the redzone where the drive stalled out and they settled for 31-yard Conner Gellender field goal.
Dodge got their offense in gear near the middle of the second quarter when the drove inside the Coffeyville ten yard line but still came away empty handed after a high snap forced holder Jordan McNair to throw an incomplete pass on a short field goal attempt.
As it has all season so far though, the Conqs defense was there to pick up the slack from the other side of the ball forcing a quick three-and-out and a punt from the Coffeyville end zone that only made it out to the 41-yard line.
That’s where things fully turned around for the Conqs offensive unit. On their first play on the ensuing drive, Jefferson hooked up with Kam Thomas deep over the middle for a 41-yard touchdown to put the Conqs up 6-3 as they missed the point after. Neither side could get anything else going in the half as the teams went into the break with a 6-3 score.
Dodge City took the ball to open up the third quarter and they wasted no time getting deep into Red Raven territory helped along by a 40-yard pitch and catch from Jefferson to Kerya Powell. Two plays later, Jefferson hit Keith Liggins on a deep slant which he took all the way for a 29-yard score to make it 13-3.
“They were resilient. There were a couple times where we really had adversity turn against us and in their favor…and we were able to come back and still score points on them,” Head Coach Terry Karg said after the game.
Coffeyville didn’t go silently into the night though as they responded with just over six minutes to play in the third quarter with Apo completing a pass to Joseph Young over the middle. Young made a tremendous individual effort on the play as he reversed field after making the catch over the middle and beat the defense to the corner of the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 13-10.
The big plays just wouldn’t stop coming for the Conqs though. On a third-and-long on the following drive, Trey Jefferson extended the play as the pocket collapsed and fired a pass as he was falling to Powell who jetted up the sideline for a 59-yard touchdown to restore the Conqs ten point lead.
Dodge looked like they may open it up near the end of the third after Bobby Arnold intercepted Apo in and returned it out near midfield. The Conqs took their ten point lead into the fourth quarter but things go interesting early in the frame. On the fourth play of the quarter, Jefferson looked to throw a short out route but it was jumped by Coffeyville’s Jabari Tiller who picked it off and took it 51 yards for a touchdown to make it a three point game again.
Coffeyville just couldn’t capitalize after that moment though. They had two drives trailing by just three but those two drives ended with a Kenyan Hunter interception and punt on a 4th-and-32.
The nail in the coffin for the Red Ravens came with just over four minutes to play when Stone Wilson, who ran for over 100 yards in the contest, broke a run off from 19 yards out to put the Conqs up 26-17 after another missed extra point.
Coffeyvillle managed two more drives in the game but neither netted any points as the Red Ravens fell to 0-2 with the nine point loss. The hosts managed just 215 yards of total offense compared to 416 from the Conqs. The offense showed significant progress as well for Dodge as they had over 100 yards rushing and nearly 300 yards passing in the game.
Trey Jefferson finished the day going 20-30 for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns. Stone Wilson was devastating on ground carrying the ball 15 times for 117 and a touchdown. Kerya Powell was the main threat through the air with 6 catches and 147 yards and a touchdown.
Coffeyville’s quarterback struggles continued as Connor Apo was inefficient throughout going 16-35 for 146 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions as the Conqs defense made it difficult to operate all night.
“Our coaches on the defensive side of the ball have been outstanding. I just can’t give them enough credit for having our players aligned and having gameplays that have been good for us,” Karg said.
Dodge City will try to get over the .500 mark next week as they take on Highland on the road at 1 p.m.
Terry Karg Postgame Interview