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Panthers back on winning track with 38-6 win over Liberal
Panthers defeat Liberal, 38-6. - photo by Dale Hogg

Jacob Murray scored three touchdowns and threw for two more to lead Great Bend to a 38-6 WAC victory over visiting Liberal Friday.

Murray ran the ball 17 times for 110 yards and posted scoring strikes to Bryce Lytle and Andrew Morss.

“We cleaned a lot of things up tonight mainly in our execution,” said coach Tony Crough. “This was a win we needed to get.”

The Panthers stacked up 358 yards of total offense while limiting the Redskins to 223 yards. While the team showed improvement from last week’s loss against Dodge City, Great Bend suffered a repeat performance in penalties as the Panthers were flagged seven times for 60 yards.

Freshman kicker Carlos Franco struggled with extra points in the first half but found his rhythm in the closing half. Franco missed a 31 yard field goal by just inches in the third quarter and Crough says that’s par for a freshman.

“Carlos has kicked well for us this season but there were times tonight where he looked like a freshman,” Crough said. “He’s been so good for us all year and we tend to forget he’s a 14 year old kid. The kicks he missed were very close and I’m confident he’ll get past that and continue to improve on his technique and continue to get better.”

The Panthers lit the board first as Murray connected with Lytle on a 42 yard touchdown pass. Franco’s extra point kick was partially blocked with Great Bend leading 6-0 at the 9:55 mark, first quarter.

Murray then scored on a quarterback keeper with 1:56 left in the opening period. Franco’s kick hit the left upright but the Panthers sported a 12-0 advantage.

Liberal responded with their only touchdown with 18 seconds left in the quarter as QB Jared scampered one yard into the Great Bend endzone. The PAT kick missed and the Panthers remained on top leading 12-6.

Murray would score two more times to close out the half.

With 10:49 left in the second quarter Murray hit Andrew Morss for a 45 yard touchdown haul. Franco’s PAT kick misfired with the Panthers up 18-6.

Murray scored on his second keeper from 14 yards out at the 3:31 mark. Great Bend went with an attempted two-point conversion but was kept out of the endzone. It would be the final score of the half as both teams went to the break with the Panthers sporting a healthy 24-6 lead.

Quinton Elliot grabbed the first of his two interceptions to start the third period for the Panthers at 10:36.

That triggered the third of Murray’s three touchdowns, this one on a three yard trot. Franco connected on the PAT giving Great Bend a 31-6 advantage with 8:23 left in the third.

Elliot then returned a seven yard pick while Franco booted the extra point through the uprights as the Panthers led 38-6 at 3:22 for the eventual victory.

“Our defense was just awesome because our offense gave them chances to be successful,” said Crough. “They were rested and poised through the whole game and they responded well especially after running into a buzz saw last week against Dodge City.”

Great Bend improves to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the WAC following Friday’s win over Liberal.

The Panthers hit the road next week to face Newton.