Things looked alright in the first quarter for the Great Bend High School football team.
However, Salina South took over in the second quarter and cruised to a 56-13 win on Friday night.
“I think Salina South is a very good team that’s a true contender to win the (Class) 5A state championship,” GBHS head coach Bo Black said. “They’re everything that they are advertised.
“They have a great quarterback, a great running back, great speed, a physical offensive line, a very physical defense. They were just a lot better than we were.”
The Panthers close the season at 4-5 overall. They went 0-3 in 5A District 7 action.
South improves to 7-2 overall, 3-0 in the district to win a 5A district title and earn a playoff berth.
A fumble shut down Salina South’s opening drive on the Panthers’ 8-yard line, but the Panthers faced a three-and-out.
Mike Jones, the Cougars’ blistering tailback, broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown run to put his team up 7-0.
Jones finished with 220 yards on 17 carries.
After another Panthers drive was cut short, Cougars quarterback Justin Stonebraker threw an interception as Greg Burley jumped a slant route.
Burley returned it five yards for Great Bend’s only defensive TD this season.
“He’s got a big charley horse in his leg,” Black said of Burley. “It’s bruised to death. He can hardly walk, and he came out and played extremely well. He continued to be a leader for our football team.”
Gustavo Apodaco’s extra-point kick was blocked, but Great Bend cut the lead to 7-6 with 4:31 remaining in the first quarter.
With the first quarter drawing to a close, the Panthers seemed like they were keeping pace with Salina South.
“We hung with them,” Black said. “My kids came out and played hard. I’m happy with that. Then, it’s the same story. We just missed some tackles.
“Offensively, we just really struggled. Trent Uselton was hurt. Johnny Allende was hurt. Greg Burley was hurt. We were just trying to find some kids and fight through some injuries just to get some formations on the field. That was tough after the second quarter.”
Stonebraker connected to Zach Nachbar for a 40-yard pass, highlighting a 73-yard drive capped by a 2-yard cut into the end zone by Jones.
That marked the beginning of the end for Great Bend.
After South intercepted Panthers quarterback Bryce Beck, the Cougars ran a little trickery.
South receiver Nachbar took a handoff on a reverse, then pulled up for a throw downfield as Mitch Roets made a diving reception for a 34-yard completion.
That helped set up another Jones touchdown, a 15-yard scamper through traffic.
Cougars Cade Calvert recovered an onside kick on the Panthers’ 37-yard line, and Walker Vinson caught a pass from Stonebraker on the first play from scrimmage for a 37-yard touchdown.
Nachbar was on the receiving end of a touchdown before intermission, a 15-yard dart from Stonebraker with 3:51 remaining.
Jones found his way into the end zone one more time before halftime as well, an 18-yard jaunt on an option play.
The Cougars led 42-6 at halftime.
Jones kept at it in the second half, scoring from 31 yards out with 8:12 left in the third quarter.
Allende fumbled the ball, giving South the ball at the Panthers’ 21-yard line.
Eric McCullough capped the following drive with a Cougars 1-yard touchdown.
Great Bend started moving the ball at the end of the third quarter.
Ramses Lopez punched in a 1-yard touchdown run, his first varsity TD of his career.
“Ramses got to play a lot in the fourth quarter,” Black said. “Along with (Sam) Witte, we had an all-sophomore backfield back there. I thought they came in and played well.”
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Class 5A District 7
Salina South 56, Great Bend 13
Great Bend 6 0 0 7 — 13
Salina South 7 35 14 0 — 56
Salina South — Mike Jones 52 run (Kevin Kraus kick), 7:04
Great Bend — Greg Burley 5 interception return (kick failed), 4:31
Salina South — Jones 2 run (Kraus kick), 9:00
Salina South — Jones 15 run (Kraus kick), 6:32
Salina South — Walker Vinson 37 pass from Justin Stonebraker (Kraus kick), 6:24
Salina South — Zach Nachbar 15 pass from Stonebraker (Kraus kick), 3:51
Salina South — Jones 18 run (Kraus kick), 54.1
Salina South — Jones 31 run (Kraus kick), 8:12
Salina South — Eric McCullough 1 run (Kraus kick), 4:49
Great Bend — Ramses Lopez 1 run (Gustavo Apodaco kick), 11:27
First Downs 23 6
Total Net Yards 548 81
Rushes-yards 49-374 39-81
Passing 174 0
Comp-Att-Int 7-12-1 0-5-1
Punts-Avg 2-38.5 7-40.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 5-1
Penalties-Yards 5-37 2-10
RUSHING — Great Bend, Johnny Allende 10-25, Bryce Beck 6-4, Sam Witte 5-29, Lopez 9-23, Thomas Bobbitt 5-9, Keaton Elliott 1-0, Trent Uselton 3-(minus-9); South, Jones 17-220, McCullough 16-63, Fox 8-38, Stonebraker 7-53
PASSING — Great Bend, Beck 0-5-0, South, Stonebraker 6-11-140, Nachbar 1-1-34
RECEIVING — Great Bend, none; South, Nachbar 5-95, Mitch Roets 2-42, Vinson 1-34