May 27, 2024

Conqs Overcome Mistakes, Knock Off Indy 41-26 in Regular Season Finale

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. – Conquistadors quarterback Bryce Conover tossed two touchdown passes and added one on the ground in relief of starter Trey Jefferson as Dodge City powered past Independence 41-26 to finish the season 7-3.

Dodge City entered the contest on fire having won three consecutive games for the first time in more than a half decade. Second year coach Terry Karg had also gotten the offensive into more of a flow as they came into the game having scored at least 30 points in back-to-back games.

Independence had been on a major slide after a 2-1 start to the year. The Pirates had lost five of their last six entering the game and were without leading passer Kai Kunz for the third consecutive game.

Christian Dhue-Reid got the nod at quarterback for Indy and he managed to get the hosts on the board first. Dodge City had a field goal blocked early on in the first quarter and then Jefferson threw an interception setting up Dhue-Reid with great field position which he took advantage of as he led a touchdown drive that ended with a Kavion Martin touchdown run that put the Pirates up 7-0.

A disaster nearly followed on the ensuing kickoff as Conqs returner Edward Wilson misjudged the flight of the ball and it bounced by him and Indy got to the ball first, setting up 1st-and-goal. Dhue-Reid couldn’t take advantage though as he was picked off by Dallas Robinson on the second play of the next drive, getting the Conqs the ball back.

Conover took over at quarterback following the interception and he managed to lead a long field goal drive to get Dodge City on the board 7-3. Kavion Majors cut into the deficit further as he sacked Dhue-Reid in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter to make it 7-5. 

The Conqs got their first lead of the game when Conover connected with Javon Campbell for a 15-yard touchdown with just over 12 minutes to go in the first half to put Dodge City in front 12-7.

Pirates receiver Malik Cooper managed to answer late in the half with a touchdown catch of his own  which put Indy back in front 13-12 after they failed their 2-point conversion attempt. 

It looked like Indy would take the lead into halftime but Dhue-Reid made a pivotal mistake late in the half, throwing an interception to Trey Simmons deep in his own territory with under a minute to go in the second quarter. Conover took advantage of the mistake, finding Kerya Powell for a 12-yard touchdown that gave the Conqs a 19-13 lead which they took into halftime.

Neither team was able to get on the board in the third quarter but the fourth produced plenty of fireworks  with the Indy special teams unit making a big impact, tackling Caleb Sedegan as he tried to punt which gave Indy the ball inside the Conqs 20-yard line.

Cooper struck again a few plays later, hauling in his second touchdown pass from Dhue-Reid, which gave Indy their first lead of the second half at 20-19. 

That lead lasted mere moments though as Wilson, last week’s NJCAA Special Teams Player of the Week, took the following kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown to put the Conqs right back in front 27-20 after a successful 2-pointer.

Dodge City had a chance to burn clock and add insurance midway through the fourth quarter when they they had a seven point lead and the ball but Stone Wilson fumbled near midfield, giving Independence some momentum. They were able to take advantage again, with Dhue-Reid unloading a bomb to Tobias Burrell for a 41-yard score which pulled the Pirates within one after a missed extra point from kicker Tanner Steenbock.

Leading 27-26, the Conqs responded with another scoring drive that was capped off by a tremendous Conover 29-yard run where he bounced off multiple defenders which expanded the Dodge lead to 34-26.

The Pirates would have a couple more chances with the ball but Dhue-Reid threw an interception with under a minute to go and Jaden Kelly took it back the other way for a touchdown to put the nail in the coffin as the Conqs won 41-26.

The win snapped a six game losing streak for the Conqs against the Pirates, as Dodge City finished their regular season 7-3, their most wins since the 2016 season.

Conover had an exceptional game coming off the bench for Trey Jefferson, throwing for 203 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also added 41 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Stone Wilson got the start at running back for an injured Jalen Smith and he finished with 26 carries for 78 yards. 

On defense, the Conqs forced five turnovers, four of which were interceptions. Ty Crutcher, Simmons Robinson and Kelly had the picks with Crutcher forcing the one fumble that the Conqs recovered on defense. Majors had two sacks, including the one that resulted in a safety.

The Conqs will hope to get an opportunity to play in a bowl game in the upcoming weeks as they finish the year 7-3 with a 5-1 conference mark, good for a solo second in the KJCCC.