It wasn’t the first time that the Great Bend High School football team fell behind early in a game.
But unlike previous games, the Panthers were able to rally and take the lead.
Unfortunately, Great Bend couldn’t hold on to the lead and couldn’t reclaim it as Dodge City won 28-21.
“I thought the kids battled their butts off,” GBHS head coach Tony Crough said. “We made some plays. We battled, kept getting after it.
“Turnovers got us. We made little mistakes here and there, but I was proud of our effort.”
The Red Demons struck first with 4:19 remaining in the first quarter as Tyler Trent ran into the end zone from three yards out.
Great Bend responded on the next drive.
Thomas Bobbitt, filling in for running back Trent Uselton for the second straight week, broke loose for a 21-yard touchdown.
Bobbitt rushed for 218 yards in the game on 35 carries, his second straight 100-plus-yard game.
“He ran the ball hard,” Crough said. “His two fumbles were obviously costly. He’s growing and learning and he ran hard.”
After the touchdown, Great Bend kicker Armando Dominguez missed the extra point, making it 7-6.
Great Bend’s Branden Paden got an interception, one of three takeaways the Panthers defense forced on the night.
“That’s our defense all year,” Crough said. “They continue to play very well and take the ball away from the other team.”
The Panthers weren’t able to turn the takeaway to points, but after a Dodge City three-and-out, Great Bend looked poised to score again.
The Red Demons put up a stand eight yards away from the goal line, and Dominguez missed a field goal attempt to end the drive.
Another Demons three-and-out led to another Great Bend drive.
This drive ended with a 47-yard high-arcing pass from quarterback Shade Wondra to Bryce Lytle, who had gotten past the Demons defense, for a touchdown.
That was one of two big plays between Wondra and Lytle. Lytle also had a 56-yard reception in the game to end with 110 yards.
“He’s a playmaker,” Crough said of Lytle. “He doesn’t look 16, does he? He’s 5-foot-7, 135 pounds and he makes plays. He’s really helped us out to stretch the game out so we can run the ball easier.”
Wondra completed 4 of 13 passes for 119 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Dominguez hit the extra point to make it 13-7.
The advantage was short-lived as Dodge City traveled 80 yards in one minute, seven seconds to score on an 18-yard pass from quarterback Caden Walters to receiver Bryce Unruh.
Dodge City led 14-13 at halftime.
The teams went back-and-forth throughout most of the third quarter.
The Demons broke the scoring silence with 35 seconds remaining in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Walters.
In the fourth quarter, the defense came up big again.
Ty Yager caught an interception and returned it to the 9-yard line.
“That was huge,” Crough said. “That was a big play. Ty’s a senior that’s put in his dues. He’s a great player and I was just proud to see him have a moment like that.
“I thought he was going to score. It was just a great job.”
Wondra punched it in from two yards out two plays later.
Great Bend lined up to attempt a two-point conversion to tie the game up, and was flagged for a false start.
The Panthers lined up again for the two-point conversion, this time from the 8-yard line.
Wondra handed the ball off to Ramses Lopez, who threw up a pass to Lytle to convert, making it 21-all.
“We worked on that one all week,” Crough said. “He’s completed all week. We normally do that in the open field. We just told them to cut the route short and Ramses to get the ball up in the air and let him make a play, which he did.
“He threw a raindrop up there and got it.”
Again, the jubilation was short-lived.
The Red Demons scored on the following drive on a 1-yard run from Walters.
With less than four minutes remaining, Great Bend couldn’t get back into the end zone.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Dodge City
Dodge City 28, Great Bend 21
Great Bend 6 7 0 8 — 21
Dodge City 7 7 7 7 — 28
Dodge City — Tyler Trent 3 run (Sebastian Mejia kick good), 4:19.
Great Bend — Thomas Bobbitt 21 run (Armando Dominguez kick failed), 52.8.
Great Bend — Bryce Lytle 47 pass from Shade Wondra (Dominguez kick good), 2:10.
Dodge City — Bryce Unruh 18 pass from Caden Walters (Mejia kick good), 1:03.
Dodge City — Walters 1 run (Mejia kick good), 35.1.
Great Bend — Wondra 2 run (Dominguez kick good), 7:54.
Dodge City — Walters 1 run (Mejia kick good), 4:01.