Hays hangs on in wild finish against Great Bend

Hays blocks a game-winning field-goal attempt to hold on, 28-27.
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 11:18 PM CDT
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HAYS, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Rivalry game or not, no one at Fort Hays State University’s Lewis Field wanted to see a rout between rivals No. 4 Hays and Great Bend. And they did not. The Panthers scored a go-ahead touchdown with 2:15 to play but missed the extra point. Hays scored in the final 30 seconds and made their extra point to move to 2-0 with a 28-27 win.

”These guys have just seen a lot of winning,” said Hays coach Tony Crough. “I think that’s what pulled them through tonight. I don’t know that we played well enough to win but there were no losers out there tonight. Both teams, hats off to Great Bend. They definitely didn’t deserve to lose that game.

”The teams combined for 28 points in the first 10 minutes of action but the score was still 14-14 in the final minute of the third quarter when the Panthers found the end zone. Freshman Cooper Ohnmacht, filling in for sophomore Daxton Minton at quarterback, connected with senior Colton Brack on a 16-yard touchdown.

That lead was short-lived as Hays erased more than four minutes off the clock on its next drive, capped by a three-yard touchdown run from junior Ian McGuire.With a 21-21 score and 7:43 remaining in regulation, Great Bend was in the driver’s seat. The Panthers milked more than five minutes off the clock before sophomore Ian Premer broke free on a screen pass from Minton. His 18-yard touchdown put the Panthers ahead 27-21 but the missed extra point kept the door open for Hays.”It’s funny how quick momentum can swing like that in a high school football game,” Crough said.

“You miss a kick and, all of a sudden, if we score and make it, that’s the ball game. That’s high school football.”Doubtful as it may have looked, the Indians did score. Hays had already converted one fourth-down conversion, and the Indians were out of timeouts and facing another fourth down when Crough called a halfback pass. Senior Malik Bah found junior Johnny Cano in the corner of the end zone from 16 yards out. The PAT put Hays on top 28-27.

And it still wasn’t over. Minton completed several passes down the sideline to Premer and senior Maddox Spray. In a chance at redemption, freshman kicker Omar Razo had a shot at a game-winning, 39-yard field goal try as time expired. The Indian defense blocked the kick.Minton threw for 299 yards on 21-of-26 passing in just his second varsity start for Great Bend. Premer had seven receptions for 99 yards and also picked off his second and third passes of the season. Spray caught six balls for 106 yards.

Bah rushed for 200-plus yards in Hays’ opener against Junction City. The senior workhorse added 231 yards on 37 carries in Friday’s win. He also threw a touchdown pass for a second-straight game.Great Bend takes a 1-1 record to Buhler next week. Hays will look to move to 3-0 against reigning 6A champion Manhattan.

”We’re just trying to figure out what this group can do,” said Crough. “We’re up and down. I think it’s just going to be a group that gives us a heart attack all year long. That’s what happens when you have a bunch of guys out there who can’t drive a car yet playing football.”