BY JIM MISUNAS
Wichita Northwest’s offense performs with video-game efficiency. The Great Bend Panthers forced four turnovers, but were overwhelmed by the Grizzlies’ high-powered offense.
Quarterback Austin Anderson passed for four touchdowns to spark the 6A Grizzlies past 5A Great Bend 63-27 in Friday’s non-league football game at Memorial Stadium.
Anderson threw for 272 yards with Jaxson Reynolds (9-160) catching two TD passes and Breece Hall and Jalen Smith catching scoring passes. The talented Grizzlies gained 612 yards and rushed for 339 yards keyed by Hall’s 152-yard game.
“They have offensive firepower. Give those guys credit. They’ve got a chance to be the best 6A team in the west,” said Erin Beck, Great Bend coach. “Their receivers made great plays on the ball.”
The Grizzlies scored on a 27-yard interception by Isaza Stewart for a 14-7 lead and scored one play after Tyson McCay intercepted a tipped pass by Koy Brack for a 35-14 lead.
Great Bend earned four takeaways, but converted one offensive touchdown. The Panthers scored after Brock Blessing’s fumble recovery for a 7-0 lead, but failed to score after Joey Soupiset and Pablo Martinez intercepted passes and Blake Penka recovered a fumble.
“We have to play about perfect to play with Northwest,” Beck said. “I’m very proud of our players. We caused some turnovers that we needed that gave us a chance. We left points out there. We needed to punch one in there before halftime.”
Great Bend quarterback Koy Brack threw for 253 yards and completed 75- and 82-yard scoring strikes to Dalton Bieker. He started with a 44-yard TD pass to Ty Esfeld after Blessing’s recovery.
“Koy has a gunslinger mentality, which is a little scary to see as a head coach,” Beck said. “We took some shots. Receivers Dalton Bieker and Ty Esfeld stepped up to the challenge.”
The state’s No. 1 recruit Marcus Hicks sacked Brack on the final play of the first half. The Grizzlies were quick and physical up front.
“We won’t see a more athletic defensive front than we what we saw,” Beck said.
The Grizzlies’ lightning-quick backs Breece Hall and 5-foot-5 Roy Robinson made the Panthers pay for missed tackles.
“When we’re in position, we’ve got to make a play,” Beck said. “Blake Penka and Brock Blessing did a great job swarming to the football. We’ll learn from it. That’s the way football goes. We’ll bounce back. I can see it in their eyes.”
The Panthers surprised the Grizzlies 58-47 last year.The Panthers (1-2) head to Dodge City (1-2) next week for a Western Athletic Conference game.
GRIZZLIES 63,PANTHERS 27
NW 21 21 14 7 – 63
GB 14 6 0 7 – 27
GB—Ty Esfeld 44 pass from Koy Brack (Dani Franco kick), 8:02
NW—Jaxson Reynolds 24 pass from Austin Anderson (Jason Benoit kick), 3:57
NW—Isaza Stewart 27 interception return (Benoit kick), 3:50
GB—Dalton Bieker 82 pass from Brack (Franco kick), 3:02
NW—Breece Hall 35 pass from Anderson (Benoit kick), 1:11
NW—Anderson 2 run (Benoit kick), 6:04
NW—Smith 18 pass from Anderson (Benoit kick), 5:54
NW—Reynolds 29 pass from Anderson (Benoit kick), 3:50
GB—Bieker 75 pass from Brack (kick failed), 1:18
NW—Hall 2 run (Benoit kick), 9:13
NW—Johnson 16 run (Benoit kick), 5:26
GB—Brack 5 run (Franco kick), 8:50
NW—Easton Ruffin 47 run (Benoit kick), 4:15
RUSHING—NW—55-339; Hall 20-152; Roy Johnson 14-97; Anderson 8-27; Ruffin 3-41; Martin 9-41; team 1-(-19); GB—20-200; Gage Fritz 9-73; Isaac Panzer 7-35; Brack 17-34; Bryce Brown 1-17; Paxton Redetzke 2-5; Miller 1-0.
PASSING—NW—Anderson 17-22-2, 273; GB—Brack 10-25-2, 253.
RECEIVING—NW—Reynolds 9-160; Smith 2-48; Robinson 5-45; Hall 1-35; Patterson 1-1; GB—Bieker 5-177; Esfeld 4-61; Miller 1-15.