Great Bend Panther Gavin Haberman rushed for a career high 116 yards. Defensive back Brody Tracy switched the momentum by forcing a fumble. The Panthers stopped Liberal at the 11-yard line and 28-yard line to preserve a 14-8 lead.
But Liberal quarterback Shay Kerr completed three touchdown passes as the Redskins spoiled Great Bend's Homecoming 22-14 in Friday's Western Athletic Conference showdown. The Redskins converted two second-half touchdowns after trailing 14-8 at halftime.
The Redskins gained valuable field position when the Panthers bypassed a punt at Liberal's 41-yard line. The Redskins responded with the game-winning 69-yard scoring drive. The key play was Alex Esparza's 13-yard dash on third-down and 7 at Liberal's 44-yard line. Esparza later dashed 20 yards. Izzy Garcia-Rotolo scored on a wide-open 12-yard touchdown pass. Hunter Huskey caught the go-ahead 2-point pass for a 16-14 lead.
"We controlled the game for most of it, but it's a tough night," said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. "It's such a hard loss. We didn't make the plays when we needed. They made more plays."
The Redskins gained a 22-14 lead when Garcia-Rotolo scored on a game-clinching 37-yard touchdown on fourth down when a Panther defender fell down.
"It summed up our night on miscues," Beck said. "We had chances to extend drives. We'd miss a block or a play. It was nice to run the football. Gavin (Haberman) found seems running the football."
Liberal (2-4, 2-2 WAC) kept Great Bend (0-5, 0-3 WAC) winless in the league and 16th seed in the 4A West seedings. Friday's scheduled game against Goddard Eisenhower has been canceled, leaving the Panthers a trip at Garden City. The Panthers could finish as high as 12th seed if Abilene, Circle, Winfield and Wellington or Mulvane lost their final two football games.
Great Bend's Gavin Haberman scored on a perfectly executed 23-yard trap play as the Panthers drove 66 yards on nine plays for a 7-0 lead.
Liberal responded with 10 consecutive running plays until quarterback Shay Kerr completed a 19-yard scoring pass to Malcomb Wiltshire. Izzy Garcia-Rotolo scored the 2-point pass play from Kerr.
Panther Brody Tracy stripped Liberal tailback Easton Zapien of the football after officials let forward progress go. The Panthers rumbled 52 yards and scored on Paco Hernandez's 3-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Joseph Moeder for a 14-8 lead.
The Panthers reached Liberal's 23-yard line before halftime.
"We had some miscommunication right before half," Beck said. "We didn't capitalize offensively. That puts pressure on our defense. Our kids played extremely hard, even after that we had an interception."
Haberman gained 116 yards and Moeder completed 13 passes for 139 yards. Laken Webb caught seven passes for 98 yards. Paco Hernandez led the defense with six tackles and six assists. Chayse Gruber had three tackles and five assists.
Liberal 8 0 0 14 — 22
Great Bend 7 7 0 0 — 14
GB—Gavin Haberman 23 run (Angel Razo kick)—8:02
L—Malcomb Wiltshire 19 pass from Shay Kerr (Izzy Garcia-Rotolo pass from Kerr)—1:44
GB—Paco Hernandez 3 pass from Joseph Moeder (Razo kick)—6:18
L—Garcia-Rotolo 12 pass from Kerr (Hunter Husky pass from Kerr)—7:14
L—Garcia-Rotolo 37 pass from Kerr (pass failed)—2:21
RUSHING—L—40-194; Easton Zapien 24-128, Alex Esparza 8-52, Shay Kerr 7-19, team 1-(-5); GB—31-135; Gavin Haberman 22-116, Joseph Moeder 6-16, Miller 2-9, team 1-(-6)
PASSING—L—Kerr 3-9-1, 68; GB—Moeder 13-25-2, 139
RECEIVING—L—Garcia-Rotolo 2-49, Wiltshire 1-19; GB—Laken Webb 7-98, Paco Hernandez 4-26, Caden Bieker 1-11, Mathew Moeder 1-7
Hays High 4-0 5-0
Dodge City 2-2 2-4
Liberal 2-2 2-4
Garden City 1-2 1-5
Great Bend 0-3 0-5
9-4—Hays 20, Goddard Eisenhower 10; Maize South 56, Great Bend 0; Manhattan 20, Garden City 7; Kapaiun-Mt. Carmel 34, Dodge City 0; Goodland 43, Liberal 32
9-11—*Hays High 43, Great Bend 14; *Dodge City 35, Liberal 0; Hutchinson 21, Garden City 20
9-18—*Hays High 27, Liberal 13; McPherson 31, Great Bend 13; *Garden City 14, Dodge City 8
9-25—Kapaun-Mt. Carmel at Great Bend, canceled; *Hays High 28, Garden City 7; Wichita Carroll 51, Dodge City 20; Ulysses 22, Liberal 12
10-2—*Dodge City 35, Great Bend 14; *Liberal 20, Garden City 7
10-9—*Liberal 22, Great Bend14; *Hays High 29, Dodge City 6; Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 56, Garden City 0
10-16—Goddard Eisenhower at Great Bend; Ulysses at Garden City; Liberal at Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel; Hays High at Maize South
10-23—*Great Bend at Garden City; Dodge City at Ulysses; Garden City; Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel Hays Hi;gh
4A WEST—McPherson 5-1 (58); Andover Central 4-1 (39); Buhler 3-2 (13); Wamego 3-3 (7); Ulysses 3-3 (5); El Dorado 2-2 (2); Rose Hill 3-3 (-4); Augusta 2-4 (-21); Independence 1-2 (-21); Mulvane 1-4 (-47); Arkansas City 2-4 (-24); Wellington 1-5 (-49);Winfield 1-5 (-55); Circle 0-3 (-23); Abilene 0-3 (-39); Great Bend 0-5 (-60)