BY JIM MISUNAS
WICHITA – The clock wound down on a lopsided 42-7 setback for the Great Bend Panthers. But quarterback Cayden Scheuerman and tailback Gavin Haberman provided a glimmer of hope.
Scheuerman scored on a 3-yard run in the final seconds for a highlight in a 42-7 football loss to unbeaten 5A Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel at the Stryker Sports Complex. Linebacker Joseph Moeder delivered a pair of defensive sparks with a first-quarter interception and a touchdown-saving tackle.
The Panthers were a play away from trailing by a touchdown at halftime after reaching the Crusaders' 8-yard line. Tight end Colton Brack caught a 36-yard reception and Gavin Haberman raced for a first down to the Kapaun 14-yard line. Three quarterback runs and an incomplete pass to Braylon Council turned the football over on downs.
Haberman's tough running produced 71 yards and Cody Miller added 31 yards. Kapaun linebacker Nathan Fury gave the Panthers trouble making tackles sideline-to-sideline.
"That's huge. Closing out drives is something we've struggled with," said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. "You've go to win one-on-one matchups. Your ability to stretch defenses is tougher in the Red Zone. Everything gets tighter. We hit a few cutback run plays. Our bootleg plays looked good."
The Crusaders scored three touchdowns on 19, 19 and 26 yards after intercepting three Scheuerman passes. Crusader tailback Omari Elias rushed for 245 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Austin Ruda scored twice as the Crusaders rushed for 337 yards. Ruda scored on a 14-yard run to cap a 90-yard drive. Elias scored on a 39-yard run for a 81-yard drive for a 14-0 halftime lead.
The Crusaders struck for four third-quarter touchdowns for a 42-0 lead. Elias scored on a 4-yard run on an 80-yard scoring drive. Interceptions by Ruda and Isaac Schmitz handed the Crusaders easy 19- and 26-yard scoring drives. Ruda added a 3-yard touchdown and Henry Thengvall caught a 14-yard scoring strike. Charlie Christman added a 3-yard score on a 37-yard scoring drive.
Kapaun-Mt. Carmel's offensive line and aggressive running game eventually overpowered the Panthers. Safety Paco Hernandez contributed six tackles and seven assists. Scott Heilman had five stops and four assists. LB Mathew Moeder contributed 14 assists.
"Our defense bent, but didn't break that first half. We made good defensive plays. But they came out that third quarter and opened things up," Beck said. "We hurt ourselves with turnovers and poor field position."
Beck said the Panthers gang-tackling defense played a commendable first half.
"Mathew Moeder played outstanding defense reading their fullback and filling the gaps," Beck said. "We gave them different looks up front against physical football players. I liked the way our defense played at times."
The Panthers (0-4) are seeded 16th in the 4A West heading to a home Western Athletic Conference showdown against Dodge City (3-1).
Great Bend 0 0 0 7 – 7
Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 7 7 28 0 – 42
KMC–Austin Ruda 14 run (Isaac Schmitz kick); KMC–Omari Elias 39 run (Schmitz kick); KMC–Elias 4 run (Schmitz kick); KMC–Ruda 3 run (Schmitz kick); KMC–Henry Thengvall 14 pass from Dylan Hamilton (Schmitz kick); KMC–Charlie Christman 3 run (Schmitz kick); GB–Cayden Scheuerman 3 run (Paco Hernandez kick)
RUSHING–GB–35-116; Gavin Haberman 16-71; Cody Miller 11-31; Scheuerman 7-18; team 1-(-6); KMC–56-337; Elias 33-245; Ruda 7-48; Christian 5-18; Jackson Daniel 2-17; Hamilton 3-8; team 2-(-15)
PASSING–GB–Scheuerman 5-18-3, 51; KMC–Hamilton 7-9-1, 80
RECEIVING–GB–Colton Brack 2-40; Braylon Council 2-7; Miller 1-4; KMC–Thengvall 4-53; Will Anciaux 1-17; Schmitz 1-10