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Panthers earn home playoff game
With the final score still on the scoreboard at Salina Friday night, the Great Bend High School Panthers celebrate their victory over Salina South. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune


 SALINA -- Thomas Bobbitt should be accustomed to being Great Bend's football hero. Bobbitt scored the game-winning touchdown to lift Great Bend past Salina South 29-26 Friday to clinch a Class 5A home playoff game.

The lead changed hands for the fifth time when Bobbitt caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Murray with 9:34 left in the game. Bobbitt had scored defensive touchdowns the past two weeks.

"Thomas is pretty explosive. He stepped up and made plays. That was awesome, a lot of fun," said Great Bend coach Tony Crough, who wore a "Beat Salina," hat. "We kept playing better as the game went along. We're the most exciting thing on Friday nights." 

The Panthers (7-2, 3-0) swept Salina South and Salina Central for the first time in 25 years. It marked the third time the Panthers had won an outright District football title. Great Bend plays Maize South (7-2) at home Nov. 6.

"We have play-makers," Crough said. "Our kids continue to make big plays."

The Cougars and Panthers traded touchdowns in the second half. The Cougars regained the lead 19-14 on Sam Corona's 1-yard run.

The Panthers restored the roar when Murray scored on a 1-yard keeper and added the 2-pointer for a 22-19 lead just as the fourth quarter started. Bobbitt converted a 4th-and-6 pass play from the Cougar 18-yard line.

South responded in three plays for a 26-22 lead on Jason Marcotte's touchdown pass from Jacob Yarochowicz one minute later. Marcotte set up the score on a 50-yard reception.

Bobbitt rescued the Panthers by turning a pass from Murray into a touchdown. Murray jump started the drive on a 20-yard run.  

Great Bend's Quinton Elliott intercepted a second-half pass. 

Sam Witte was the Panthers' first-half sparkplug that led to a 14-13 lead. Witte scored on a 36-yard interception return. Witte made one of the game's biggest plays with a goal-line tackle on Sam Corona at the 2-yard line. He also forced a fumble that gave Great Bend the football at the 22-yard line.

It marked the Panthers' fifth defensive touchdown in District play. The Panthers had three takeaways.

"It's unreal getting another defensive touchdown," Crough said. "We are aggressive at taking the football away. That is who we are as a defense."

After an exchange of early turnovers in a scoreless first quarter, South roared ahead 7-0 on a 44-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Yarochowicz to Dylan Becker.

The Panthers responded with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns. Quarterback Jacob Murray scored on a 7-yard keeper to cap a solid 74-yard drive. The Cougars twice gift-wrapped first downs by moving offside and short-yardage situations. Andrew Morss caught a 41-yard reception on the drive.

On the next drive, Witte intercepted a pass by Yarochowicz, who threw an ill-advised pass under heavy pressure. 

The Cougars quickly moved upfield and scored a 2-yard run by DeAngelo Turner. But the Cougars missed the extra point after an errant snap, leaving the Panthers a 14-13 lead.



Great Bend 0 14 0 15 -- 29

Salina South 0 13 6 7 -- 26

SS--Dylan Becker 44 pass from Jacob Yarochowicz (Fernando Avila-Castro kick), 10:30

GB--Jacob Murray 7 run (Franco kick), 7:07

GB--Sam Witte 36 interception return (Franco kick), 6:30

SS--DeAngelo Turner 2 run (pass failed), 1:39

SS--Sam Corona 11 run (pass failed), 5:00

GB--Murray 1 run (Murray run), 11:30

SS--Marcotte 10 pass from Yarochowicz (Avila-Castro kick), 10:03

GB--Thomas Bobbitt 43 pass from Murray (Franco kick), 9:34


Friday's first round

 Leavenworth 2-7 at Mill Valley 8-1

Pittsburg 8-1 at Shawnee Heights 3-6

Topeka Seaman 2-7 at St. Thomas Aquinas 7-2

Lenexa St. James 8-1 at Lansing 6-3

Salina South 5-4 at Wichita Carroll 8-1

Wichita Heights 6-3 at Goddard 6-3

Maize South 7-2 at Great Bend 7-2

Goddard Eisenhower 5-4 at Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 7-2