Great Bend turns to ground game in Homecoming win

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Koy Brack’s 694 passing yards and Alex Schremmer’s 448 receiving yards made the Great Bend duo one of the state’s top catch-and-pass threats through three weeks of the season. But it was the ground game that mattered Friday night. The Panthers rolled up 230 rushing yards in a 35-15 Homecoming win over Dodge City.

“We had a feeling they were going to play a little more coverage and they did,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “They took away a lot of our deep passing game that we’ve had some success with. We knew coming in we’d have to run the football and control the line of scrimmage.

“Overall, I thought our kids did a great job of sticking to the game plan and continuing to run the ball effectively. I told our defense in the locker room if they give up 15 and get a pick-six score, they better win the football game. Overall, it was a complete game in that aspect. But Dodge is a tough opponent. Their kids are tough and a lot of them play both ways. It was a typical (Western Athletic Conference) grind-it-out type of game.”

Great Bend (3-1 overall, 2-0 WAC) marched right down the field on its first drive. Junior Dalton Miller started what would be a big night with a 26-yard touchdown run just over two minutes in.

After punts from both sides it was Dodge City’s turn to march the field. Senior Jaiel Johnson capped a 15-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to tie the score on the first play of the second quarter.

The Panthers dominated the game after that. Miller returned an interception 87 yards for the only other points in the half. “(Dodge City quarterback Beau Foster) was scrambling and I was watching his eyes,” Miller said. “I knew I had a good angle and caught it. When I started going to the sideline I saw an opening and felt someone on the back of me. Once I broke that tackle I knew I was free. I just needed one more block and faked inside a little bit and kept on the sideline and it worked.”

Early in the second half, Brack’s 71-yard punt pinned the Demons on their own 2-yard line. The Panthers got the ball back in short order and Brack scrambled on 3rd-and-7 to find Schremmer for the first down. Two plays later Miller pulled in a 6-yard touchdown pass for a 21-7 lead.

“Homecoming is always such a fun time,” Miller said of his 3-touchdown evening. “Lots of people who have graduated come back and watch. It’s a lot of fun.”

Great Bend pulled ahead 28-7 on an 18-yard touchdown run from Brack. The Demons answered with their own big drive, led by several first-down runs from Foster, who ultimately connected with junior John Johnson for a 20-yard score.

Johnson picked off a Brack pass but Dodge City (2-2 overall, 0-1 WAC) faltered offensively to give the Panthers a short field. Brack capitalized with a 4-yard run to finished off scoring with 2:42 to play in the game.