BY JIM MISUNAS
WICHITA – Great Bend quarterback Jacob Murray enjoyed a virtuoso performance, directing the Panther offense like a maestro.
Murray earned his bow from the appreciative Great Bend crowd after orchestrating the Panthers’ 58-47 football victory Friday over Wichita Northwest, a member of the prestigious Wichita City League.
“We took a huge step beating a good football team,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “I’m awfully proud of this football team and the way they fight.”
Murray completed four touchdown passes to wide receiver Bryce Lytle, who created havoc with eight catches for 180 yards. Murray sprinted for three rushing touchdowns to account for seven of the eight Panther touchdowns.
The 5-foot-9 Lytle caught touchdown passes of 18, 21, 25 and 57 yards on pin-point accuracy by Murray in the corner of the endzone.
“Wichita Northwest had fast secondary players who stayed right with me, but Jacob put the football on the money every time,” Lytle said. “This is definitely a high point, something we can build on. We knew we had to put points on the board.”
Great Bend scored six consecutive first-half touchdowns for a 41-27 halftime lead and answered with two more scores for a 51-33 lead in the second half.
“Our offensive line did a good job controlling the line of scrimmage,” Beck said. “They are doing a good job adjusting during the game and learning their assignments during the week.”
The Panthers’ offensive front of center Kaden Schroeder, guards Trevor Fehr and Payton Doll and tackles Noah Presson and Aaron Clark protected Murray like their brother while freeing Cal Marshall for 194 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“I give all the credit to our offensive line, which played an amazing game,” Murray said. “We knew it’d be a shootout. It was a tough football game out there. We knew if we played our best football, we’d win the game.”
Great Bend (3-0) rushed for 291 yards and Murray completed 14 passes for 286 yards. The Panthers’ 577-yard output was nearly matched by the Grizzlies, who gained 543 yards for a grand total of 1,120 yards. Tailback Jahlyl Mounds was virtually unstoppable with five rushing touchdowns and 238 yards.
“Mounds is a special back,” Beck said.
Panther linebacker Max Jerke delivered the game’s biggest defensive plays with a fumble recovery and game-sealing interception. The Panthers stopped the Grizzlies three times in each half. Defensive end Eric Vazquez and nose guard Dominique Rideaux sacked quarterback Austin Anderson on the game-ending drive. Defensive end Pablo Martinez also enjoyed a strong game.
“The defense came up big when we needed them,” Beck said. “They did a good job rallying the troops.”
The Panthers converted three touchdowns after drawing critical pass interference penalties. None was bigger than a back-breaking 3rd-and-7 interference call after the Grizzlies drew within 51-47 with 8:11 left. Marshall busted back-to-back big runs, scoring on a 19-yarder with 6:45 left.
Grizzly quarterback Austin Anderson completed 14 passes for 256 yards. Lightning-fast wide receiver Martese Mullins scored two touchdowns with 139 yards receiving.
PANTHERS 58, GRIZZLIES 47
Great Bend 20 21 10 7 – 58
Wichita NW 13 14 6 14 – 47
NW—Jahlyl Rounds 67 run (Joshua Benoit kick), 10:53
GB—Jacob Murray 4 run (Carlos Franco kick), 6:04
GB—Murray 1 run (kick failed), 3:00
NW—J. Rounds 2 run (pass failed), 1:55
GB—Bryce Lytle 25 pass from Murray (Franco kick), 0:48
GB—Lytle 18 pass from Murray (Franco kick), 8:12
NW—Martese Mullins 56 pass from Austin Anderson (Benoit kick), 7:19
GB—Murray 8 run (Franco kick), 3:44
NW—Mullins 36 pass from Anderson (Benoit kick), 2:37
GB—Lytle 57 pass from Murray (Franco kick), 1:33
GB—Lytle 21 pass from Murray (Franco kick), 7:27
NW—J. Rounds 42 run (kick failed), 6:38
GB—Franco 24 FG, 1:38
NW—J. Rounds 3 run (kick blocked), 8:11
GB—Cal Marshall 19 run (Franco kick), 6:45
RUSHING—GB—59-291; Marshall 24-194; Murray 33-89; NW—37-287; Rounds 21-226; Myles Garner 6-35; Lamar Martin 1-4; Anderson 1-5; Mullins 1-17
PASSING—GB—Murray 14-21-0, 286; Koy Brack 0-1-0; NW—Anderson 14-26-1, 256.
RECEIVING—GB—Lytle 8-180; Brack 3-63; Brayden Smith 1-27; Marshall 2-16; NW—Mullins 5-139; Jaxson Reynolds 5-45; J. Rounds 3-57; Garner 1-15.