BY JIM MISUNAS
WICHITA – Great Bend's best football of the season led perennial 5A powerhouse Wichita Carroll 14-7 at halftime.
The second half was a dramatically different story. Carroll limited the Panthers to 10 yards and rallied for a 28-14 non-league victory by pressuring the quarterback and locking down the short-passing attack.
Great Bend quarterback Dalton Miller accounted for all 225 Panther offensive yards – 197 yards passing and 25 yards rushing. Miller scored on a 16-yard dash and completed a short pass that Alex Schremmer converted into a 90-yard touchdown reception. Miller completed 16 of 19 passes for 174 yards the first half.
"We came out and executed what we wanted perfectly," said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. "Overall, I'm was proud of our guys played. We had three huge fourth-down defensive stops to give our offense the ball back."
The Panthers' aggressive defense stopped the Golden Eagles twice on 4th-and-1. The Panthers' defense tackled Austin Niedens at the Panthers' 3-yard line. Carroll lost yardage on 4th-and-1 on a poor snap at the Panthers' 11-yard line.
Peyton Duvall delivered the year's best block on Schremmer's 90-yard score for a 14-7 lead.
"It was an outstanding performance by Duvall to make that block," Beck said. "That came after a huge stop by our defense."
Carroll responded with a trio of second-half scores by Hunter Trail, Skylar Hampton and quarterback Aiden Niedens. The Golden Eagles rushed for 267 yards and Niedens completed 10 passes for 125 yards.
Carroll (3-2) rushed for 272 second-half yards. A 48-yard was keyed by third-down passes to Max Bullinger and Brady Pacha. Hampton scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:38 left following a 15-yard pass to Oscar Gallardo and a 21-yard dash by Hampton. Niedens capped a 27-yard drive on an 8-yard touchdown for a 28-14 margin.
"Their quarterback is a good football player who scampered around," Beck said. "That's a good offensive line and they protected their quarterback."
Panthers Zach Seymour and Alex Schremmer each contributed 14 tackles/assists. Miller and Alex Olivas each contributed 12 tackles/assists.
Carroll's defense overplayed the short-passing game and dropped Miller six times for 37 yards in losses.
"We knew it'd be a chess match. They brought the house that second half and that gave us issues," Beck said. "We had an inability to run the football. They started walking guys down to take away our passing game."
Great Bend (2-3) drops to 11th in the 5A western bracket with three games left. The Panthers travel to Andover Central (4-1) with Liberal and Garden City also on the schedule.
"We've learned the hard way. We've got to keep fighting, but how we go from here will define us," Beck said. "I never question their ability to bounce back. We need to regroup."
Great Bend 7 7 0 0 – 14
W. Carroll 7 0 7 14 – 28
GB–Dalton Miller 16 run (Angel Razo kick)–4:39
WC–Aiden Niedens 13 run (George Walden kick)–1:26
GB–Alex Schremmer 90 pass from Miller (Angel Razo kick)–8:07
WC–Hunter Trail 5 run (Walden kick)–3:40
WC–Skylar Hampton 3 run (Walden kick)–7:38
WC–Niedens 8 run (Walden kick)–3:40
RUSHING–GB–Miller 17-28; WC–52-267; Hunter Trail 27-133; Niedens 13-90; Hampton 10-57; team 2-(-13)
PASSING–GB–Miller 22-31-0, 197; WC–Niedens 10-17-0, 125.
RECEIVING–GB–Schremmer 11-141; Peyton Duvall 6-32, Bryce Brown 1-10, Sam Ryan 3-7, Paco Hernandez 1-7; WC–Max Bullinger 4-71, Oscar Galardo 2-33, Brady Pacha 2-12, Hampton 1-6, Drake Unrein 1-3.