COFFEYVILLE – Great Bend tailback Gage Fritz scored three touchdowns and rushed for 212 yards to spark the Panthers past Coffeyville-Field Kindley 41-18 in Friday’s non-league football opener.
Fritz scored on runs of 6, 16 and 25 yards. Quarterback Koy Brack added two rushing touchdowns and 121 yards passing. The Panthers rushed for 296 yards behind center Kaden Schroeder, guards Trevor Fehr and Payton Doll and tackles Aaron Clark and Andrew Wettengel.
The Panthers took advantage in the run game after quarterback Koy Brack threw the ball effectively in the first half. Dalton Bieker had five catches for 115 yards, including receptions for 21, 24 and 44 yards.
“They were giving us the run in the second half, and Gage does a good job in open spaces,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “Gage ran the football well and he has great vision. Our wide receivers did a good job blocking downfield on the edge.”
The Panthers scored 27 second-half points behind an aggressive ground game after a shaky first half.
The Panthers had four takeaways and scored directly off a fumble recovery and turned the Golden Tornado at the goal-line on another fumble recovery.
Safety Max Jerke made the game’s biggest defensive play with a fumble recovery at the Panthers’ 3-yard line with Great Bend up 14-6. Linebacker Kody Stapleton returned a fumble 60 yards for a game-clinching touchdown and a 35-12 lead. Safety Dalton Miller intercepted pass and Matt Zorn recovered a fumble.
Great Bend handed the Golden Tornado several first downs on penalties and lost yardage on offensive flags. Beck liked the way the Panthers responded to game adversity such as mistakes on alignments and missed plays.
“We came back and rallied in the second half,” Beck said. “I was pleased by the way we responded to adversity,” Beck said. “We made mental errors. The simple assigments issues are correctible.”
Coach Beck said everyone’s goal is to play better and execute better next week and show improvement.
Field Kindley quarterback C.J. Kelley completed 14 passes for 224 yards and rushed for 55 yards. Kelley scored on a 1-yard run and completed a 53-yard touchdown to Tajahn Thomas on the first play of the second half. Jacob Jackson scored on a 5-yard run.
“Coffeyville does some good stuff on offense,” Beck said. “We want to kake sure our guys are 100 percent on their assignment. But I always want to see how our respond.”
PANTHERS 41, GOLDEN TORNADO 18
GB 7 7 21 6 – 41
FK 6 0 6 6 – 18
GB—Gage Fritz 6 run (Dani Franco kick), 9:56
CFK—C.J. Kelley 1 run (pass failed), 1:50
GB—Koy Brack 5 run (Franco kick), 10:20
CFK—Tajahn Thomas 53 pass from Kelley (pass failed), 11:42
GB—Fritz 16 run (Franco kick), 9:43
GB—Fritz 25 run (Franco kick), 4:11
GB—Kody Stapleton 60 fumble return (Franco kick), 1:34
CFK—Jacob Jackson 5 run (pass failed), 11:00
GB—Brack 8 run (kick blocked), 4:23
RUSHING—GB—41-296; Fritz 27-212; Brack 10-69; Paxton Redetzke 2-11; Isaac Panzer 2-4.
PASSING—GB—Brack 6-12-2, 121.
RECEIVING—GB—Dalton Bieker 5-115; Bryce Brown 1-6.