By JIM MISUNAS
Red Zone Nightmare
Grizzlies’ defense turns back Panthers
By JIM MISUNAS
WICHITA – Great Bend’s football team played even with No. 1 ranked Wichita Northwest until they reached close to the goal-line.
The underdog Panthers had two passes intercepted at the goal-line in a 48-14 second round playoff loss to No. 1 ranked Wichita Northwest. The Panthers (5-5) committed five turnovers and failed to score six times after driving inside the Grizzlies’ 20-yard line.
The Panthers reached the Grizzlies’ 1-yard-line, the 5-yard twice and the 9-yard line without scoring. Great Bend gained 211 yards passing and 211 yards rushing, but scored on one of seven trips inside the 20-yard line.
“When you turn it over, that’s the issue tonight,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “It’s important to score when we get down there.”
Great Bend’s Bryce Brown intercepted a pass and Caryn Schooler returned a fumble by Reagan Jones 35 yards to give the Panthers a chance for a one-score game at halftime.
But Grizzly defender Todric McGee delivered the game’s biggest play with a 101-yard interception return for a 34-14 halftime lead. McGee read a pass by Dalton Miller and weaved upfield for a school record 101-yard return.
“Our defense did a good job getting a couple turnovers,” Beck said. “Our team was as tough as nails all night. They’re a special group of football players. I’m most proud these are tough guys who never give up. That can go a long ways in life.”
Miller passed for 210 yards and rushed for 100 yards in an inspiring effort. All-state receiver Alex Schremmer caught 10 passes for 142 yards, highlighted by a 80-yard touchdown reception.
Miller’s effort drew the praise of Northwest coach Marc Marinelli – “One of the toughest players in the state. Hands down.”
The Panthers kept battling despite the five turnovers and double-digit deficit on the scoreboard.
“Their coach Steve Martin had good things to say about our football team,” Beck said. “Dalton Miller did a nice job getting the ball out and ran when we needed him. It’s tough to see these seniors go. You never question their effort. We were down and out, but they kept fighting to give us a chance. They’ve won a lot of football games.”
The Grizzlies (10-0) rushed for 424 yards and gained 516 offensive yards that offset four turnovers.
Northwest quarterback Reagan Jones scored two touchdowns and gained 161 yards. back Julius Bolden scored two touchdowns and rushed for 137 yards. Jamar Martin scored twice and gained 90 yards.
The momentum swung wildly after Northwest built a 28-7 lead after one quarter. Bolden scored twice and Jones and Martin added touchdowns. Miller’s 10-yard touchdown run made it 28-14 when the Panthers failed to convert twice at the goal-line.
The scene was repeated three times in the second half as the Panthers reached the 1-yard line without scoring and moved to the 14-yard line and 9-yard line in the fourth quarter without scoring.
Safety-quarterback Miller finishes as the Panthers’ all-time leading tackler. Schremmer finishes No. 1 all-time with
Great Bend 7 7 0 0 – 14
Wichita NW 28 6 14 0 – 48
NW—Julius Bolden 18 run (Carson Arndt kick)—9:13; GB—Alex Schremmer 80 pass from Dalton Miller (Angel Razo kick)—8:58; NW—Jamar Martin 2 run (Arndt kick)—5:17; NW—Reagan Jones 49 run (Arndt kick)—2:25; NW—Bolden 40 run (Arndt kick)—0:47; GB—Miller 10 run (Razo kick)—10:34; NW—Todric McGee 101 interception return (Arndt kick)—0:47; NW—Reagan Jones 15 run (Arndt kick)—9:43; NW—Martin 2 run (Arndt kick)—2:47
RUSHING—GB—44-211; Miller 26-100; Gage Fritz 15-93; Joseph Moeder 3-18; NW—50-424; G. Jones 12-161; Bolden 12-137; Martin 18-90; Jaden Wheeler 3-27; L.J. Phillips 3-7; Mason Ross 2-2.
PASSING—GB—Miller 15-24-4, 210; Moeder 1-2-0, 1; Duvall 0-1-0; NW—R. Jones 5-7-1, 92.
RECEIVING—GB—Alex Schremmer 10-142; Peyton Duvall 2-7; NW—Zion Jones 1-43; Camden Aldrich 2-24; Martin 1-17; Kaleb Coleman 1-8.