DODGE CITY, Kan. – Conquistadors sophomore running back Jalen Smith scored two touchdowns and the Dodge City defense forced three turnovers as they ran through rival Garden City 33-10 at Memorial Stadium.
Dodge City came into the game losing eight straight matchups with Garden City with their last win coming back in 2015. The Conqs came into the game with some confidence through as they were ranked #15 in the most recent NJCAA poll after falling just short against nationally ranked Snow last week.
Garden City was struggling coming into the game as their most recent game was a brutal 3-0 loss at home against Highland. The loss actually dropped the Broncbusters out of the national poll for the first time this season.
The game started off strongly for the visitors, with a 46-yard kickoff return by Keyon Brown. The Broncbusters took advantage of the field position as they drove it down to the Dodge City 24-yard line where they got on the board courtesy of a 41-yard Braxton Frey field goal to go up 3-0.
The Conqs offense had an immediate reaction though as quarterback Trey Jefferson rumbled for 37-yards on the third play of the following drive to get Dodge City inside the 20. Two plays later, Jefferson called his own number again and found the end zone from ten yards out to take a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
That score held into the second quarter, but it appeared that Garden would take the lead back early in the frame as they were at the Dodge City six-yard line at the conclusion of the first. After back-to-back rushes got the ball inside of the one-yard line, Broncbusters quarterback Jalon Daniels fumbled the snap on a sneak attempt which handed the ball back to the Conqs who still held the lead.
The defense for the Conqs made another big splash midway through the second, when on a 2nd-and-10 on Garden’s side of the field, Daniels threw an ill-advised pass over the middle that got intercepted by Bobby Arnold who took it 33 yards for a touchdown which increased the Conqs advantage to 14-3.
That was Daniels second interception of the game after Mar’Quavious Moss had picked him off earlier in the quarter. Looking for a spark, Garden City head coach Tom Minnick turned things over to backup quarterback Kody Kirk for the rest of the game.
Kirk’s first drive ended in a poorly executed punt that ended up going only 15 total yards, setting up the Conqs with great field position. On the first play of the next drive, Smith took a handoff from Jefferson 37 yards for a touchdown to build the lead to 21-3.
Garden answered with what would be their only touchdown drive of the game which was capped off with a James Jones touchdown run from eight yards out to cut the deficit to 21-10 entering halftime.
Dodge City’s defense controlled the game the rest of the way. Arnold returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the Garden City 13-yard line which resulted in an Angel Dominguez 38-yard field goal that extended the lead to 24-10.
The next four Broncobuster drives netted a total of 38 yards and zero points as Dodge City entered the fourth quarter still holding a 14 point advantage.
Smith found the end zone again on an eight yard pass from Jefferson at the beginning of the fourth which put the game fully out of reach. The Conqs added a safety of a Kirk intentional grounding penalty that occurred in the end zone and the Broncbusters were blanked in the fourth quarter as Dodge beat Garden 33-10 to claim their first win over their bitter rivals in nearly a decade.
Smith had his finest game of the season, finishing with 22 carries and 130 rushing yards with a touchdown. He also added 12 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.
Garden City managed only 204 yards of total offense despite running 75 plays on that side of the ball. Daniels’ two interceptions in the game brings his total to seven on the season with only two touchdown passes.
Dodge City improves to 3-2 with the win, setting up a ranked matchup against the #1 ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons next Saturday at Gowans Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Z98 with pregame coverage starting at 12:30.