By JIM MISUNAS
Great Bend's 7-6 non-league football victory over Wichita East illustrated the value of a kicker.
Panther kicker Dani Franco converted the Panthers’ extra-point and Blake Penka blocked an extra point by Wichita East kicker Nick Navarro. Navarro missed a 50-yard field goal in the final minute that ended a six-hour marathon Friday.
The game was delayed twice for three hours, 50 minutes by thunderstorms, hail and lightning.
“When we needed stops we got them,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “I’m proud our guys stuck to it and came up with a W. Our defense willed us to it. Our defensive line played well.”
Defensive linemen Alan Miramontes, Pablo Martinez, Eric Vazquez and Peyton Doll contributed key plays.
Great Bend (4-2) plays Liberal next week on Senior Night while Wichita East drops to 2-4.
The Panthers scored on a 11-play, 63 yard drive, aided by two crucial penalties against Wichita East. The Blue Aces drew a facemask flag on third-and-5 at the 34-yard line.
East's Ladell Clemens drew a pass interference penalty against Panther receiver Dalton Bieker. Somehow, the officials marked an 11-yard flag from the 19-yard line.
The Panthers maintained valuable field position after Koy Brack scored his second-half touchdown with 2:57 left in the third period.
Two flags were thrown on the Wichita East sideline after the score. The Blue Aces drew two unsportsmanlike penalties as play was stopped by weather for the second time. The Blue Aces started drives from the 17, 22 and 37-yard line after the second weather delay.
Brack rushed for 134 yards and the Panthers gained 224 yards against an aggressive four-man defensive front.
“We were a block or cut away from success offensively,” Beck said. “Give East credit. When teams play a 4-3 defense, it creates matchup problems. Their linebackers run great and we missed blocks.”
The overall punting game hurt the Panthers. The Panthers were pinned back inside their 5-yard-line twice when they failed to field punts and lost valuable yardage by not fielding punts. Brack punted out of bounds twice instead of using a 20 mph southerly wind to gain field position.
Wichita East led Great Bend 6-0 when thunderstorms triggering hail and lightning delayed play at 5:58 p.m. Friday. The game was resumed at 7:35 p.m.
Wichita East blocked a punt by Brack and scored on a 27-yard scoring drive for a 6-0 lead. Receiver Elias Green caught a 27-yard pass from quarterback Robert Lorentino on a play fake and Javon Givens scored on a 1-yard dive.
Givens rushed for 87 yards and the Blue Aces gained 151 yards.
The Blue Aces’ defense turned back the Panthers on five first-half drives. Great Bend’s first drive reached the Blue Aces’ 32-yard line. The Panthers rushed for 79 yards and completed four of 11 passes for 35 yards.
PANTHERS 7 BLUE ACES 6
WE 0 6 0 0 – 6
GB 0 0 7 0 – 7
WE—Jevon Givens 1 run (kick blocked), 9:05
GB—Koy Brack 3 run (Dani Franco kick), 2:57
RUSHING—WE—32-112; Givens 25-87; Ariahdit Lee 1-9; Jaq Massey 1-3; Elias Green 2-3; Robert Lorentino 2-2; GB—49-166; Koy Brack 35-134; Gage Fritz 9-37; Dalton Miller 4-(-3); team 1-(-2).
PASSING—WE—Lorentino 4-9-0, 39; GB—Brack 6-15-0, 58.
RECEIVING—WE—Elias Green 3-40; Lee 1-(-1); GB—Fritz 2-27; Miller 2-14; Dalton Bieker 1-9; Ty Esfeld 1-8.