BY JIM MISUNAS
DODGE CITY — The 2020 nightmare continues for Great Bend's football team, which lost 35-14 to Dodge City, the defending Western Athletic Conference champion.
Dodge City roared to a 21-7 halftime lead over Great Bend thanks to a trio of first-half takeaways. The Panthers responded with three second-half takeaways, which produced one touchdown.
Panther Mathew Moeder blocked Claudio Diaz's punt that teammate Evan Wedel returned to the 5-yard line. Jade Poe scored on a 2-yard run for a 28-14 score. The Panthers missed a pair of scoring opportunities on the next two drives after Paco Hernandez recovered an onside kickoff and intercepted a pass.
The Panthers (0-4, 0-2 WAC) are ranked No. 16 (0-4, -52) in the 4A West heading to a homecoming game against Liberal (1-4, 1-2 WAC). One victory would deliver a huge vault in the 4A seedings.
"I'm proud of our fight. Missed opportunities is the theme tonight," said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. "We have to execute better. We're hurting because we had our chance to win. We've got to peel ourselves off the ground and do whatever we can do to get a win next week."
Dodge City led 28-14 when Ty Vilaysing broke up a promising pass for Hernandez at Dodge City's 24-yard line. The Panthers reached Dodge City's 9- and 24-yard line on the next two drives. Alden Knedler completed a 5-yard scoring strike to Matt Friess for the clinching touchdown.
Panther quarterback Joseph Moeder started 5 of 6 with accurate throws, but finished 8 of 29 for 99 yards facing heavy Dodge City pass pressure. Hernandez caught four passes fore 39 yards and Laken Webb had three catches for 28 yards.
"Joseph is a tough kid, but he took some shots," Beck said. "It was frustrating because wee had a chance to make a few plays."
Dodge City's Caleb Miles recovered a Hernandez fumble on the game's first punt. Tyler Smith scored a 50-yard touchdown pass from Tucker Smith on a ball tipped at the 5-yard line by Joseph Moeder.
The Panthers failed to cover the ensuing kickoff as Dodge City's Ty Vilaysing recovered at the Panther 29-yard line. Halfback Matt Friess scored from 20 yards as the Panthers failed to defend a run from shotgun formation for a 14-0 lead.
Great Bend scored on a solid 79-yard scoring drive. Joseph Moeder scored on a 16-yard touchdown keyed by Elias Moreno's huge block against Ivan Cordero. Moeder rumbled 21 yards and completed a 13-yard pass to Hernandez.
Dodge City answered with a 79-yard scoring drive, keyed by Friess' 40-yard reception from Alden Knedler. Dodge City scored again off the shotgun formation on Knedler's 9-yard touchdown with 2:09 left in the half for a 21-7 lead.
The Panthers finished with 84 yards rushing with Poe gaining 42 yards. Dodge City's Chance Kerr rushed for 86 yards to spark a 192-yard ground game. Knedler rushed for 65 yards and passed for 45 yards.
Great Bend 0 7 7 0 — 14
Dodge City 14 7 7 7 — 35
DC—Tyler Smith 50 pass from Tucker Smith (Isaac Estevane kick)—9:10
DC—Matt Friess 20 run (Estevane kick)—9:06
GB—Joseph Moeder 16 run (Angel Razo kick)—5:35
DC—Alden Knedler 9 run (Estevane kick)—2:09
DC—Chance Kerr 13 run (Estevane kick)—9:27
GB—Jade Poe 2 run (Angel Razo kick)—4:18
DC—Friess 5 pass from Knedler (Estevane kick)—7:21
RUSHING—GB—34-84; Jade Poe 11-42; Joseph Moeder 16-30; Gavin Haberman 7-12; DC—46-192; Chance Kerr 13-86; Alden Knedler 19-65; Matt Friess 3-33; Tucker Smith 7-8; Ty Vilaysing 3-5; team 1-(-5)
PASSING—GB—Joseph Moeder 8-28-1, 99; DC—Alden Knedler 2-7-1, 45; Tucker Smith 2-4-0, 51; Friess 0-1-0
RECEIVING—GB—Paco Hernandez 4-39; Laken Webb 3-28; Haberman 1-21; Stefan Spray 1-11; DC—Dylan Smith 1-50; Matt Friess 3-46