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Regroup: Panthers look to return to winning track against Liberal
Great Bend vs. Liberal preview - photo by Dale Hogg

Practice this week for Friday's WAC contest between Great Bend and visiting Liberal served as an opportunity for the Panthers clean up any mishaps from last Friday’s 51-7 homecoming loss to perhaps the best offense in the state in the form of the Dodge City Red Demons.  

Dodge piled up 503 yards of total offense against the Panther defense which was showing signs of fatigue midway through the second half. Four turnovers and two bad snaps on punts helped spell Great Bend’s undoing in last Friday’s setback

“Turnovers and just a lack of execution were the story tellers,” said coach Tony Crough. “We had terrible ball security and just shot ourselves in the foot offensively all night long.”

Great Bend mustered 83 yards on the ground and combined 122 aerial yards for 205 yards of total offense. Jacob Murray recorded 19 carries for 67 yards and the Panthers’ only touchdown in the effort.

“With all the miscues we had it really put a lot of pressure on our defense to the point that they were totally drained in the second half,” Crough said.

Penalties also worked against the home team’s effort as the Panthers were flagged seven times on the evening.

“We just had some foolish penalties that hurt us in certain situations,” said Crough. “That’s not to take away from Dodge City. They’re a very athletic and talented team and unfortunately we didn’t give ourselves a chance to be competitive like I know we’re capable of doing.”

Crough says the defense found themselves in a dog fight against the Demons’ high octane offense. “Our defense didn’t get a very fair shake,” Crough said. “I hate to keep harping but offensively we were putting our defense in such bad situations against, statistically, the best offense in the state. We didn’t give our defense chances to make stops because we had them on the field too long.”

Crough discussed the common thread between the losses against Dodge and Garden City.

“Again, turnovers,” he said. “We had four at Garden City and four against Dodge not including two bad snaps on special teams. You really take away any chances of being successful against good teams when you can’t secure the ball.”

Despite the loss the Panthers look to have all hands on deck tonight against Liberal.

“We’re healthy,” said Crough. “We have two of our starting offensive linemen returning from injury so we’re just really focusing on how to get better week to week.”

The Redskins have one win on the season as Liberal defeated out of state rival Guymon (Okla.) 30-21 back in week two. Liberal has been outscored 140-6 following last week’s 42-2 loss against WAC leader Garden City.

“We looked at some film and have a scouting report and a game plan for them but we haven’t focused a whole lot on Liberal,” said Crough. “We feel like if we play our best game and fix our mistakes and execute then we can play with anybody.”