DODGE CITY, Kan. – Liberal’s Brooks Kappelmann tossed two touchdowns to Zayden Martinez and the Redskin defense shut out the Demons in the second half to spoil Dodge City’s homecoming game dealing them a 21-7 defeat.
Liberal had lost five straight in the series against Dodge City but are in the midst of a renaissance year, holding a 3-0 record coming into the game, their best start to a season since 2003. The Redskins came into Dodge following two dominant victories and had scored 77 more points than they allowed in their first three games.
Dodge City came into the contest at 2-1 following a narrow seven point victory over Wichita-South. This was the first WAC matchup of the season for both sides and each was looking to make an impression within their district.
The opening quarter was a defensive struggle as Dodge City punted on their opening drive but the Demons defense gave the district-leading Liberal offense problems as well, forcing a turnover on downs shortly after.
Dodge City had the first real scoring chance of the game as they drove it inside the Redskin 30-yard line but the drive stalled out after an illegal subsection penalty put the Demons offense behind schedule and they turned it over on downs in Liberal territory.
Liberal finally got a drive going late in the first quarter that carried into the second as Kappelmann got the Redskins inside the ten and finished off the drive with an eight yard touchdown run to put the visitors up 7-0.
Dodge City immediately responded though as they capped a touchdown drive with a Ryan Gonzalez 9-yard touchdown run to tie it with just over five minutes left in the first half. The two teams exchanged interceptions on their next drives and the score remained 7-7 going into the break.
The second half was a frustrating one for the Dodge City offense even after they got a boost from the special teams unit which forced and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half. Starting on the Liberal side of the field, the Demons drove it inside of the Liberal six-yard line but lost ten yards on the next three plays and missed their ensuing field goal try to give it back to the Redskins.
Liberal proceeded to drive it to the doorstep of the goal line but got stuffed on third and fourth down from inside the two-yard line on Kappelmann carries and the game remained 7-7.
That’s where the game swung in Liberal’s favor, as Dodge went three-and-out and the Redskins returned the punt deep into Demons territory. With under 15 seconds left in the third, Kappelmann was able to step up in the pocket and rifled a 16-yard touchdown to Martinez which gave Liberal a 13-7 lead entering the fourth after the extra point was missed.
The next three drives all resulted in fumbles as Dodge City got it into plus territory on both of their next two drives but Gonzalez and Bryson Unzueta both lost the ball after contact sandwiched between a lost fumble for Liberal’s Xavier Porras.
Following the Unzueta fumble, Liberal took over around midfield with under six minutes left and on a pivotal third-and-eight near midfield, Kappelman found Martinez over the middle who exploded though the secondary for a backbreaking 52-yard score that put the game away for good.
Dodge had a couple more possessions late but couldn’t do anything with them as they fell to 2-2 with the 21-7 loss. Liberal is now 4-0 continuing their torrid start to the season.
“It’s hard for us to replicate the speed of the game in practice. Those guys were pretty good and they were big too. Our guys aren’t huge…our number 1s, and we go to our number 2s and we’re definitely not as big when we try to replicate their size and speed on defense…they did some good things to us and credit to them,” offensive coordinator Kyle Culwell said following the game.
Dodge City will head to Great Bend for another WAC matchup next Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on Z98 with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30.
Kyle Culwell Interview