At Dodge City
Dodge City 31, Great Bend 14
Dodge City 7 7 7 10 — 31
Great Bend 0 0 0 14 — 14
Dodge City — Jared Helfrich 14 run (Dillon Burkhead kick), 10:30
Dodge City — Helfrich 4 run (Burkhead kick), 11:55
Dodge City — Matt Esquibel 2 run (Burkhead kick), 4:00
Great Bend — Logan Buehler 19 pass from Greg Hildebrand (Mauricio Uribe kick), 11:53
Dodge City — Bruce Campbell 28 FG, 6:38
Dodge City — Trey Hallman 15 run (Burkhead kick), 4:24
Great Bend — Jace Bowman 7 pass from Hildebrand (Mario Espino kick)
Dodge City Great Bend
First Downs 21 13
Total Net Yards 364 213
Rushes-yards 207 63
Passing 157 150
Comp-Att-Int 16-22-1 15-27-1
Punts-Avg 1-43.0 3-48.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-55 7-70
RUSHING — Dodge City, Helfrich 14-109, Parker Davis 15-73, Rico Hogan 1-3, Campbell 2-7, Esquibel 2-2, Hallman 1-16; Great Bend, Jeremy Sigler 11-23, Hildebrand 10-13, Dakota Ellis 2-10, Alex Reed 1-17.
PASSING — Dodge City, Helfrich 15-21-0 157, Taylor Murphy 0-1-1 0; Great Bend, Hildberand 15-27-1 151.
RECEIVING — Dodge City, Davis 4-21, Josh Ginther 4-19, Hallman 4-42, Hogan 1-25, Lopez 3-44; Great Bend, Jace Bowman 5-60, Logan Buehler 3-43, Connor Sell 3-30, Sigler 2-1, Ellis 1-9, Reed 1-7.
DODGE CITY — After a decade of dominance, the streak is over.
Great Bend High School owned a 10-year winning streak against Dodge City. On Friday night, the unbeaten Red Demons finally exorcised the demons, beating their longtime Western Athletic Conference foe, 31-14, for the first time since the 1999 season.
“Things like that come and go,” Great Bend head coach Bo Black said. “More important than a streak ending to Dodge City is that we lost a football game, and we’ve got to find a way to win one (this coming Friday) at Liberal.”
Dodge City (5-0) moves into a first-place tie in the WAC with defending conference champion Hays at 2-0. The two teams meet Friday night in Hays, with the winning team emerging in the driver’s seat in the WAC.
Great Bend (1-3) is now 1-1 in conference play.
“There’s a long streak you talked about that ended and I’m just glad it wasn’t me (as head coach) the last 10 years because nobody’s wants to be a part of that,” said Dave Foster, Dodge City’s first-year head coach. “That’s a compliment to Great Bend and their program, and they’ve been a lot of places.
“Quality wins are important.”
Great Bend will be playing a Liberal team, which lost to Garden City 38-14 on Friday night. The Panthers defeated Garden two weeks ago on the road, 21-13, for their lone win.
“We’ve got to go back and figure out what we’re going to do offensively,” said Black, who had never lost to Dodge. “We struggled running power football, struggled running the football through the spread and there’s only a certain amount of things your quarterback can do.
“They were physical enough up front to play five in the box (featuring DCHS defensive ends Alec Schmitt and Bruce Campbell and defensive tackle Jesse Trent) and really took it to us.”
The Red Demons and their quick-hitting offense wasted no time seizing a 7-0 lead on the opening drive of the game, keyed by a 42-yard gain by Helfrich on the first play from scrimmage. He was finally ankle-tackled at the Great Bend 32 by Jeremy Sigler, saving a touchdown.
That came four plays later, when Helfrich faked a handoff to running back Parker Davis, turned up inside and scored on a 14-yard TD run with 10:30 remaining in the opening period.
After Great Bend’s offense, which managed just 63 net rushing yards, sputtered early, Greg Hildebrand, who unloaded a 65-yarder on his first punt, later planted a 35-yarder at the Dodge City 38.
The Demons then ventured to midfield, where Helfrich gained six yards on third down, giving Great Bend a first down at the 47. Wideout Trey Hallman then made a 16-yard reception in the flat, giving Dodge a first-and-10 at the GBHS 31, before Helfrich scampered 25 yards for first-and-goal at the 6.
After Helfrich, who finished with a game-high 14 carries for 109 yards, gained a pair of yards on the final play of the first quarter, he scored on an option keeper from the 4-yard line on the opening play of the second quarter to push the margin to 14-0.
But Great Bend’s Alex Reed, once again displaying his blazing speed, returned the ensuing kickoff 59 yards after a reverse handoff from Jeremy Sigler, giving the Panthers good field position at the Dodge City 38.
The Panthers had fourth-and-1 at the 29 and opted to go for it, but Sigler was stopped for no gain and the Demons took over on downs.
Dodge City drove to the Great Bend 33 in the final seconds of the second quarter, but the Panthers’ Connor Sell intercepted a double-reverse pass from Demons wideout Taylor Murphy in the end zone with 7.4 seconds left in the period to negate the scoring opportunity.
Still, Dodge City owned a 14-0 lead at halftime.
“It seems like we were scrambling for our lives all night and we had no shot at running the football most of the night,” Black said. “In high school football, you’ve got to be able to run the football and we struggled doing that, big-time.
“I think it all goes back to not being able to run the ball and not being able to protect the quarterback. We had some things open at times, but even the matchups we were looking for, we weren’t physically able or having enough speed to do the things we anticipated doing.”
Matt Esquibel’s 2-yard scoring run at the four-minute mark in the third quarter increased the Demons’ lead to 21-0. The drive was highlighted by wideout Rico Hogan’s 45-yard reception from Helfrich.
The Panthers finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, following quarterback Hildebrand’s 19-yard scoring pass to Logan Buehler with 11:53 remaining, cutting the margin to 21-7.
But the Demons melted precious time off the clock on a time-consuming drive, with Bruce Campbell kicking a 28-yard field with 6:38 left for a 24-7 edge.
“It ate up a lot of clock in the process,” Black said. “We made some bad decisions and struggled protecting the quarterback. (DCHS) definitely has a very good football team and we’re not going to take anything away from them."
Moreover, after DCHS got the ball back, Hallman had a 15-yard scamper for a score a couple minutes later to hike the margin to 31-7
Great Bend got a late scoring pass from Hildebrand to Jace Bowman, who led Panthers with five catches for 60 yards.
“They’re very well-coached, have a lot of weapons and are very physical up front and they controlled the line of scrimmage, especially defensively," Black said. "They’re a better football team than us."
The Panthers will be trying to right their ship for the final three district games — at home against Hays, at Salina Central and at home against Salina South — after their road trip to Liberal.
“As much pride as we take in these conference games and as important as we think they are, it’s still going to come down to finishing the season strong,” Black said. “That’s the ultimate goal."