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Great Bend beats Liberal, 49-20
Panthers move up to 9th Western seed
Great Bend Panther Gage Fritz (29) escapes a tackle and rushes into the end zone to score during Friday night’s football game against the Liberal Redskins. - photo by Hugo Gonzalez

GBHS vs. Liberal Football

GBHS vs. Liberal football video highlights
By: Hugo Gonzalez

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The Great Bend Panthers made Liberal pay for kicking off into a 25 mph southeast wind to start the second half. 

Dalton Miller ignited a 21-point burst with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Alex Schremmer and a dazzling 14-yard touchdown for a 35-20 lead. Gage Fritz converted a 2-yard run for a 42-20 lead with 55 seconds left in the third quarter. Liberal went three-and-out on two drives, setting up the Panthers' second and third-scoring drives.

"When we elected to receive the football, I asked the official, 'Are you sure they want to kick off into the wind?' said Great Bend coach Erin Beck, who was happy to control the football with the brisk wind. 

Fritz finished off a 83-yard second half with a clinching 21-yard touchdown run for a 49-20 Western Athletic Conference football victory on Senior Night. Liberal gained 10 yards after halftime.

Cornerback Bryce Brown delivered a game-breaking second-half play when he tackled Alex Esparza on fourth-and-1 at Liberal's 38-yard line. Brown also deflected a pass in the endzone.

"That got me excited. I saw the back going outside, so I had to go hit him on fourth down," Brown said. "That was one of my best defensive plays of the year. It felt good to have one last go at it on Senior Night."

Miller rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns and Fritz added 139 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers rushed for 389 yards on 50 carries. The Panthers (3-4, 2-1 WAC) outgained Liberal 456-233.

The Panthers offensive front of tackles Tate Murray and Barrett Lutt, guards Dylan Lamb and Dalton Murphy, center Jason Scott and blocking ends Alex Olivas and Peyton Duvall dominated up front.  

"It was really fun tonight," said Murray. "We knew running the football was a good match-up for us. They couldn't find a way to stop us, so we kept running it. They were a good defense, but we played better. It was really exciting to score points tonight." 

Great Bend (3-4, 2-1 WAC) moves up to ninth Western seed and would be paired with Wichita Heights (3-4), a 79-0 loser to Wichita Northwest Friday. The Panthers head to Garden City (2-5, 2-1 WAC) next week.

Great Bend Panther Dalton Miller (15) beats the Liberal Redskins’ defense and rushes to the 20-yard marker.

Safety Dalton Miller contributed 10 tackles and Alex Olivas and Zach Seymour each had eight tackles. 

"Hats off to these seniors, who really led that charge from start to finish," Beck said. "We played a flawless second half after regrouping offensively and defensively. Up front, our offensive and our tight ends did a nice job controlling their front. Our defense, guys like Alan Miramontes,  Olivas Moreno and Joey Soupiset made plays. We took the life out of them after halftime."

A wild first half, exactly what you'd expect for Great Bend's Senior Night against the Liberal Redskins. The Panthers led 21-20 at halftime behind a trio of first-half scoring drives.

Quarterback Miller rushed for 131 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 8 and 22 yards. Fritz scored on a 3-yard run and gained 50 yards rushing. The Panthers managed 183 yards rushing and 13 yards passing.

Liberal's lightning quick quarterback Syris Dunlap created issues for the Panthers' defense with 104 yards rushing and a touchdown pass to Malcomb Wiltshire with 7.9 seconds left for a 21-20 score. 

It appeared the Panthers would lead 21-14 at halftime, but officials ruled Alex Schremmer touched a bouncing punt kicked from Liberal's 15-yard line. The Redskins moved 34 yards in eight plays as the Panthers were unable to tackle Dunlap inbounds to run off valuable time. 

Liberal 8 12 0 0 — 20

Great Bend 7 14 21 7 — 49 

L—Alex Esparza 68 run (Syris Dunlap run)—11:11; GB—Dalton Miller 8 run (Angel Razo kick)—8:49; GB—Miller 22 run (kick failed)—11:53; GB—Gage Fritz 3 run (Miller run)—10:58; L—Dunlap 3 run (run failed)—8:35; L—Malcomb Wiltshire 11 pass from Dunlap (run failed)—7.9; GB—Alex Schremmer 21 pass from Miller  (Razo kick)—9:49; GB—Miller 14 run (Razo kick)—5:33; GB—Fritz 2 run (Razo kick)—0:55; GB—Fritz 21 run (Razo kick)—6:46


RUSHING—L—41-209; Dunlap 26-114; Esparza 12-89; Beltran 2-4; Diaz 1-2; GB—50-389; Miller 21-234; Fritz 23-139; Jade Poe 4-11; Joe Moeder 2-5.

PASSING—L—Dunlap 3-8-0, 24; GB—Miller 6-7-1, 67.

RECEIVING—L—Wiltshire 2-14, Braxton Hyde 1-10; GB—Alex Schremmer 4-52; Peyton Duvall 2-16.