GREAT BEND, Kan. – The Great Bend Panthers defense posted their second consecutive shoutout and Dodge City couldn’t overcome self-inflicted wounds in the first half as the Demons fell 28-0 at Great Bend Memorial Stadium.
Both teams entered the contest with identical records, being 2-2 overall and 0-1 in WAC play. Dodge City’s conference loss came the previous week against Liberal where the Redskins scored 14 unanswered in the second half to down the Demons. On the Great Bend side, the Panthers only conference matchup came back on September 8 when the dropped a tight one 28-27 at Hays.
Things were immediately rough in this one for the Demons. They received the opening kickoff and after what looked like a solid return, senior Tochi Okoro lost control of the ball as he was being brought down and Great Bend recovered the fumble to set up a short field for their offense.
Panthers head coach Erin Beck’s then put the ball in the hands of Cody Miller on all but one play of the ensuing drive and the senior running back found the end zone from one yard to put Great Bend up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
The Red Demons offense wasn’t able to get much going until the second quarter when they drove inside the Panthers 20-yard line and ended up facing a 4th-and-7 where a beautifully designed misdirection screen pass put receiver Bryson Unzueta in space with a chance to tie the game but Dodge took an illegal block in the back penalty which negated the score and eventually killed the drive as an incomplete pass on the following play gave the ball back to the Panthers.
Later in the second quarter, Great Bend got into Demons territory but faced a 4th-and-10 at the 40-yard line where the Panthers looked doomed when Dodge City linebacker Cade Barnett forced sophomore quarterback Daxton Minton outside of the pocket. With few options, Minton threw up a prayer into a grounp of players and sophomore receiver Ian Premer found a way to come down with it for a 29-yard pickup.
That play gave the hosts all the momentum they needed as they continued to rely on the ground game and Miller to keep the chains moving and on 3rd-and-goal at the five, they perfectly executed a play-action pass to free up freshman receiver Kale Kern in the back of the end zone who toe-tapped for a touchdown to push Great Bend’s lead to 14-0 with under a minute to play in the first half.
Dodge nearly found a way to score at the end of the first half despite the limited time as junior quarterback Alan Flores moved the Demons offense inside of the Great Bend 20-yard line but his last ditch pass with eight seconds left fell incomplete and kicker Rafe Ojeda missed the ensuing field goal attempt to keep the score 14-0 going into halftime.
After the break, the Panthers took the ball on the opening drive of the second half and methodically marched the ball down the field in 6:01 with Miller grabbing his second rushing touchdown of the night to build the lead to 21-0 halfway through the third quarter.
Dodge City’s offense continued their struggles into the second half as they weren’t able to get on the board and Great Bend added a Minton to Premer touchdown in the fourth quarter to secure the 28-0 win for the Panthers.
It was the first time the Demons offense has been shutout this season and the first time Dodge has been shutout since last year’s playoff game against Washburn-Rural. As a whole, Dodge’s offense has managed just seven points in its last ten quarters of action.
“We had some decent drives, we did some good things on defense but a few things here and there just killed us. We’re really looking to just put good drives together and put a full defensive drive together to get the ball back to us and we fell short on some of that tonight,” assistant coach Ty Thomas said after the game.
With the defeat Dodge City drops to 2-3 and 0-2 in WAC play. They will have an opportunity to get their first conference again next week as they welcome in Hays to Memorial Stadium on Friday. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Z98 with pregame coverage beginning a 6:30.
Ty Thomas Interview