When punter Koy Brack stopped a punt at Valley Center’s 1-yard line, Great Bend’s defense could’ve written the script.
Panther defenders Alan Miramontes, Jeffrey Spragis and Matt Zorn swarmed Hornet back Larry Wilson for a game-changing safety.
The Panthers converted a 55-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession for a 16-0 lead en route to a 35-18 5A playoff victory over the Hornets.
“When we see them start at the 1-yard line – we’re thinking one thing – safety,” said Spragis, the Panthers’ 5-foot-6 sparkplug. “I shot the gap and took on the fullback. I got a piece of that tackle. It was great teamwork.”
Linebacker Blake Penka doubled the Panthers’ fun with a second safety when he sacked quarterback Parker Schrater for a 32-7 lead.
“Wow – what a tackle,” Spragis said. “Blake almost stripped him for a touchdown.”
The No. 3 seeded Panthers (8-1) play Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel (7-2) next Friday in the second round.
Great Bend’s defense set an aggressive tone in a dominating 23-0 first-half. The Panthers strung together a goal-line stand that led to a missed field goal. The Hornets failed to gain a first-half first down.
“When we led 30-0, our defense played exceptionally well,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “Our third down defense was lights out. Every game you’ve got to play like it’s your last game.”
The Panthers did an exceptional job defending the Hornets’ big-play threat Larry Wilson, who intercepted a pass.
Receiver Alex Schremmer caught 7- and 39-yard touchdown passes from quarterback Koy Brack. Schremmer broke Bryce Lytle's single-season touchdown record with 14 touchdowns.
Tailback Gage Fritz led a 315-yard ground game with a 182-yard night and a 25-yard touchdown run. Dalton Miller chipped in 126 yards rushing and a 17-yard run. The offense was keyed by center Kaden Schroeder, guards Payton Doll and Marcus Schmeidler and tackles Eric Vasquez and Andrew Wettengel.
“Our offense put together some good drives,” Beck said. “It’s good to see two backs rush for over 100 yards.”
The Hornets showed their fight with a trio of second-half touchdowns. Wilson scored on a 2-yard run. Quarterback Schrater completed touchdown passes to Jeren Carter and Zach Williams.
“The team across from us wasn’t going home. They didn’t give up,” Beck said. “We let off the gas a little bit. You learn from it. We let adversity and penalties negate some drives. If you want to make a run, you’ve got to reset.”
VC 0 0 6 12 – 18
GB 7 16 7 5 – 35
GB—Alex Schremmer 39 pass from Koy Brack (Dani Franco kick)—10:34
GB—Safety (Jeffrey Spragis, Alan Miramontes, Alan Zorn tackle Larry Wilson)—11:35
GB—Gage Fritz 25 run (Franco kick)—9:49
GB—Schremmer 7 pass from Brack (Franoc kick)—0:15
GB—Dalton Miller 17 run (Franco kick)—10:17
VC—Larry Wilson 2 run (run failed)—0:39
GB—Safety (Blake Penka tackles Parker Schrater)—8:56
VC—Jeren Carter 21 pass from Schrater (run failed)—3:51
GB—Franco 38 FG—0:59
VC—Zach Williams 13 pass from Schrater—0:00
RUSHING—28-92; GB 56-315; Fritz 34-182; Miller 16-126; Brack 6-7.
PASSING—VC—13-23-0, 134; GB—Brack 6-15-1, 106.
RECEIVING—VC—Carter 4-53; Williams 3-32; Wilson 2-10; Hightower 2-26; Amado Carillo 2-17; GB—Schremmer 3-50; Miller 1-33; Calan Haberman 1-12; Peyton Duvall 1-11.
5A WEST, FRIDAY'S FIRST ROUND
Emporia 5-4 at Wichita Northwest 9-0
Salina Central 7-2 at Wichita Carroll 7-2
Maize South 6-3 at Maize High 8-1
Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 7-2 at Great Bend 7-2
WEST, FIRST ROUND
Wichita Northwest 58, Salina South 24
Emporia 35, Wichita Heights 17
Wichita Carroll 40, Newton 34
Salina Central 20, Goddard Eisenhower 6
Maize High 56, Liberal 15
Maize South 21, Andover High 17
Great Bend 35, Valley Center 18
Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 48, Hays High 28
5A EAST, FRIDAY'S SECOND ROUND
Topeka Seaman 5-4 at St. Thomas Aquinas 9-0
Lenexa St. James 2-7 at Mill Valley 6-3
Shawnee Heights 5-4 at DeSoto 7-2
Olathe West 3-5 at KC Schlagle 6-3
EAST, FIRST ROUND
St. Thomas Aquinas 69, Highland Park 14
Topeka Seaman 52, SM West 20
Mill Valley 49, Topeka West 10
Lenexa St. James 34, Lansing 27
DeSoto 49, KC Turner 7
Shawnee Heights 10, Blue Valley SW 9
KC Schlagle 46, Leavenworth 28
Olathe West 27, KC Washington 20