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Whatever could go wrong, seemed to go wrong for Panthers in setback
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Bryce Beck of Great Bend has the football come out after getting hit on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter on Friday night. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

This one was deflating for Great Bend High School, a non-conference football game where the Murphy’s Law premise could be applied to the Panthers’ fortunes against Ulysses.
For the most part, anything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Great Bend in the most inopportune times on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
“Offensively, it was just frustrating all night,” Great Bend head coach Bo Black said. “We couldn’t find any consistency when we did move the ball ... we’d fumble the snap.
“Anything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong when it came to momentum. Our defense put us in a position to win the football game, but we just struggled offensively.”
Ulysses running back Zach Romero had a tiebreaking 6-yard touchdown run with 3:02 left in the fourth quarter, lifting the Tigers to a 21-14 win.
After Romero’s late score, which capped a 34-yard scoring drive after a shanked GBHS punt, the Panthers’ Bryce Beck returned the ensuing kickoff, maneuvered to his left and tried to get to the outside. But, as Beck battled for additional yardage, the Tigers jarred the ball loose and Bryce Rodriguez recovered the fumble at the Great Bend 38-yard line.
Ulysses then ran out the clock to improve to 1-1 on the season. The Panthers, who travel to Garden City next Friday night for their first road game, as well as the Western Athletic Conference opener, fall to 1-1.
“I thought our kids gave great effort and they played with a lot of heart,” Black said. “It’s something we talked about all week.”
Great Bend’s running quarterback, Bryce Beck, totaled 96 yards in 17 carries, and running back Johnny Allende had 95 yards in 17 carries. It was a vast majority of their yards of total offense.
“We wanted to get (Allende) tackled before he got going,” Ulysses head coach Jason Kenny said. “Once he gets into the open field, he has tremendous speed and vision. He’s capable of taking it to the house every time he touches it.”
The Panthers struggled mightily in their passing game. Beck completed only 5 of 16 passes and had one intercepted. A handful of drops by receivers on catchable balls left them with only 32 yards through the air.
“The storyline, the bottom line, is we struggled offensively,” Black said. “We’re trying to run the ball into an eight- to- nine-man box, and we struggled catching the ball. Bryce did a good job of throwing the ball. We dropped a lot of passes and dropped a lot of passes in key situations.
“It was just very, very frustrating offensively. We couldn’t find anything that was consistent for us. As we move forward, we have to do some things that we can hang our hat on to be successful with offensively.”
Regarded as one of the top sophomore fullback prospects in the nation, Ulysses’ Ian Rudzik is everything as advertised. The punishing 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, who moved a pile of Panthers trying to tackle him on numerous occasions, finished with 19 carries for 169 yards, coming up with big run after big run, although he never found the end zone.
“He played real well for us,” Kenny said of Rudzik. “I thought we blocked up front for him pretty well, at times.
“Sometimes I worry about (Rudzik). I just tell him to go down (when he’s getting gang-tackled). Our other back, Zach (Romero), he ran hard, too. It’s a pretty good one-two punch for us right now.”
Rudzik left the touchdowns for his backfield mates in quarterback Garrett Walters’ 1-yard scoring run in the opening quarter for a 7-0 lead, along with running back Riley Seger’s 33-yard TD jaunt and Romero’s back-breaker.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Panthers, coming at the end of Rudzik’s 44-yard gain late in the first quarter, moved the yard markers half-the-distance to the goal line for first-and-goal at the 9, setting up Walters’ touchdown.
Beck ripped off a 46-yard gain on a keeper, prior to the Tigers’ first score, putting the Panthers in business at the Ulysses 18.
But a 14-yard loss on third down and Beck getting sacked on fourth down curtailed that drive.
The Tigers led 7-0 at halftime before things got interesting at the outset of the second half, where there were two touchdowns in a span of 33 seconds.
Allende, neutralized for much of the game, took off on a 61-yard touchdown bolt on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. It knotted the score at 7 at the 11:43 mark.
Putting a damper on Allende’s touchdown, junior Trent Uselton was knocked out of the game with a knee injury, one of several Panthers that suffered injuries in the game. Keaton Elliott and Shade Wondra left the game with shoulder injuries, and Ty Yager suffered an arm injury.
Ulysses answered right back after Allende’s score. After the ensuing kickoff sailed out of bounds, with the Tigers taking over at their own 35, Rudzik gained 32 yards for a first down at the GBHS 33.
On the next play, running back Riley Seger came free on the left side and raced untouched for a 33-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 11:27 left in the third quarter.
After mounting an impressive 61-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter, Beck capped it with pulsating, zig-zagging, tackle-eluding 25-yard touchdown run down the middle of the field. It tied the game at 14 with 11:45 left in the game.
The Panthers dodged a bullet shortly thereafter. A 21-yard gain by Rudzik to the GBHS 24 with 10:17 remaining planted the Tigers half-the-distance to the goal line at the 12 after a second late hit was delivered to Rudzik.
“It hurt us two times in crucial situations,” said Black, alluding to the personal-foul penalties. “Injuries also hurt us in crucial situations.”
But the Panthers’ defense stiffened, and Ulysses placekicker Jorge Mendez missed badly on a 26-yard chip shot, leaving the game tied.
After Great Bend’s next drive stalled, Nick Warren’s 15-yard punt with nearly seven minutes left gave the ball back to the Tigers, who capitalized and drove in for the winning score.
“We’re going to play seven football teams that are better than the team we played tonight, I think, and we’ve got a long way to go,” Black said.





At Great Bend

Memorial Stadium

Ulysses                   7   0   7   7   —  21

Great Bend             0   0   7   7   —  14



First Quarter

Ulysses — Garrett Walters 1 run (Jorge Mendez kick), 1:02 

Second Quarter

No scoring  

Third Quarter

Great Bend — Johnny Allende 61 run (Carlos Prado kick), 11:43

Ulysses — Riley Seger 33 run (Mendez kick), 11:27

Fourth Quarter

Great Bend — Bryce Beck 25 run (Prado kick), 11:45

Ulysses — Zach Romero  6 run (Mendez kick), 3:02


                        ULYS    GBHS

First Downs        13          13

Total Net Yards  284        269

Rushes-Yards     51-261  36-237

Passing                 24         32

Comp-Att-Int     3-4-0     5-16-1

Punts-Avg.        4-38.5   5-32.2

Fumbles-lost      0-0         3-1

Penalties-Yards  5-25       5-48


RUSHING  — Ulysses, Ian Rudzik 19-169, Romero 16-71, Seger 4-47, Walters 10-(minus-10), Seger 4-47; Great Bend, Beck 17-96, Allende 17-95, Jayce Brack 1-29, Greg Burley 1-0.

PASSING  — Ulysses, Walter 3-4-0  24; Great Bend, Beck 5-16-1  32.

RECEIVING — Ulysses, Nathan Medina 1-13, Rudzik 2-11; Great Bend, Keaton Elliott 1-17, Zach Reynolds 1-10, Ty Yager 2-8, Allende 1-(minus-3).