By JIM MISUNAS
HAYS – Minutes after nearly winning on a field goal, the Great Bend football Panthers suffered the agony of defeat 21-20 when Hays High converted an extra point in overtime.
Hays quarterback Hunter Brown scored on a 3-yard touchdown and Logan Clark added the game-winning extra point for the Western Athletic Conference football victory. The Indians quickly dashed onto the field to celebrate.
The Panthers scored a touchdown in overtime on Koy Brack’s 8-yard touchdown run. But kicker Dani Franco missed the extra point when the placement’s timing was off.
“I was very proud of the way our kids fought,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “They played their hearts out. We played well enough the second half to win the football game. We had a chance in regulation.”
Wichita Northwest (1-1) visits Great Bend (1-1, 0-1 WAC) next week for the Panthers’ home opener.
“The game of football is a lot about how we respond,” Beck said. “It’s a good learning experience for us. We need to learn the importance of every play.”
Franco missed a 43-yard potential game-winning field goal with 17 seconds left in regulation after the Panthers’ Blake Penka led a defensive stop. The Panthers reached the 26-yard line after giving away a play when Brack stopped the clock, a decision Beck wished he had back.
The Panthers (1-1, 0-1 WAC) lost two fumbles and extended Hays High’s second scoring drive on a defensive offsides. The mistakes proved too much to overcome.
“That one’s tough,” Beck said. “We knew we’d get Hays’ best shot in a rivalry game. Give them credit defensively. They stuck it to us.”
Great Bend gained 223 yards rushing and 49 yards passing.
“The most frustrating thing offensively was mental mistakes at crucial points killed drives. We can’t have that,” Beck said. “They ran the football and kept our defense on the field. That hurt us from getting the football back.”
Safety Dalton Miller rescued the Panthers with an interception that set up the Panthers’ game-tying touchdown. Brack scored on a 13-yard touchdown with 1:55 left in regulation for a 14-14 tie.
Miller had 14 tackles and Penka contributed 13 points and Brock Blessing 10 stops.
The Indians led 14-7 when William Sennett caught a 28-yard touchdown reception from Hunter Brown on fourth down with 6:31 left in the third period.
Hays’ Chase Brous recovered a fumble on a punt return by Dalton Miller to start the second half. The Indians scored on a 10-play, 49-yard drive for a 7-0 lead. Receiver William Sennett caught a perfect 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hunter Brown.
Great Bend responded with a 80-yard touchdown drive
.The Indians had the Panthers stopped twice, but helped them with an unsportsmanlike flag and a late hit on quarterback Brack. Brack scored on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Panthers and Indians battled for a 0-0 halftime tie. The Panthers gained 91 yards and the Indians gained 97 yards.
The Panthers reached the Indian 10-yard line and faced second-and-1. Miller was tackled on second down and Great Bend was flagged for a crucial 5-yard penalty. A fourth-down pass by quarterback Koy Brack fell incomplete.
INDIANS 21, PANTHERS 20
GB 0 0 0 14 6 – 20
HH 0 0 7 7 7 – 21
HH—William Sennett 28 pass from Hunter Brown (Logan Clark kick), 5:45
GB—Koy Brack 1 run (Dani Franco kick), 11:56
HH—Hunter Brown 17 run (Clark kick), 6:31
GB—Brack 13 run (Franco kick), 1:55
GB—Brack 8 run (kick failed)
HH—Hunter Brown 3 run (Clark kick)
RUSHING—GB—Gage Fritz 25-132; Dalton Miller 4-18; Koy Brack 17-73; HH—Hunter Brown 23-114; Keaton Markley 10-47; Dylan Schmidtberger 6-24; Hayden Brown 3-9; William Sennett 6-6.
PASSING—GB—Brack 7-9-0, 49; HH—Hunter Brown 2-10-1, 38.
RECEIVING—GB—Miller 2-20; Fritz 1-11; Bryce Brown 2-9; Dalton Bieker 1-7; Ty Esfeld 1-5; HH—Sennett 1-28; Palmer Hutchinson 1-10.