By BRETT MARSHALL
WICHITA — Head coach Brian Hill has said on several occasions that his Garden City Buffaloes football team travels well.
In some cases, playing better than at home.
Call them "road warriors" if you will.
That statement was backed up Friday night at Wichita South's Carpenter Stadium as the Buffs, leaving little doubt they are comfortable away from Buffalo Stadium, grounded the Blue Aces of Wichita East, 34-13, in their final tuneup before venturing into Class 6A district play next Friday at home against Maize.
"We wanted to build some confidence going into districts," Hill said afterward. "I thought the kids were dominant in the first half, we played great on both sides of the ball. They continue to improve and we're getting more kids involved and that's getting our defensive kids some rest and they're more fresh."
The Buffs, who had exploded for a 27-0 halftime lead, weathered some tenuous moments in the third quarter when two fumbles resulted in the 13 points scored by the Aces.
The first miscue came on a 15-yard pass from Greyson Tempel to Taylor Foley, who then fumbled. The result was Willie Edwads picking up the ball and racing 60 yards for an East touchdown, and Al Orozco's extra point kick trimmed the lead to 27-7 with 9:35 left in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bo Banner fumbled the ball away on an end sweep and the Aces were back in business on the Buffs' 11-yard line. It took them six plays, but finally quarterback T.J. Sparr, bottled up all night by the Garden defense, bulled his way in from the one. Suddenly, after a missed PAT, it was a 27-13 Buffalo lead.
"It was my fault on that one," Foley said of his fumble. "But the defense really stuck to it, we read our keys, did what the coaches told us and we came up big. We played like animals and it was a lot of fun. It feels great to get this win."
From there, however, the Buffs responded as any well team would want.
They went on a 62-yard TD drive that took 19 plays and consumed more than eight minutes of the clock. Midway through the drive, Greyson Tempel limped off the field with a re-injured ankle, and Denton Keller came in and took the Buffs the rest of the way. He got the final TD of the game, his first of the season, on a 1-yard bootleg around right end on fourth down.
"That's what we want the kids to do, play tough when it gets tough," Hill said. "I thought with the way we played in the first half, we weathered that little trouble. It was cold, the ball got hard and the kids had a hard time keeping hold of it."
It didn't take the Buffs long to figure out the "Desert Swarm" defense employed by the Blue Aces.
After just one three-and-out, the Buffs proceeded to score on four of their next five possessions, while their defense created their own swarm against the Aces, who had come into the game with a 4-1 record and averaging 25 points per game.
The onslaught of the first half went something like this:
A 71-yard, seven-play drive took just 2:10 with quarterback Greyson Tempel scrambling for a 7-yard touchdown where he broke two tackles en route to the end zone. Rudy Chavez tacked on the point-after, giving the Buffs the early lead.
Then, following an East fumble, the Buffs took just two plays to go 11 yards with Logan Dechant scoring on a 5-yard run when he took a pitch from Tempel around left end. Chavez made it 14-0 with his PAT kick.
It was Dechant's first TD of the season, and the senior is now settling into his new role in the backfield.
"The line did a great job of blocking for me, I was able to make a cut and I just try to extend the play," said Dechant, who now has more than 100 yards over the last two games, both wins. "I played running back when I was younger, and I'm feeling more comfortable back there all the time. I'm just getting comfortable with my assignments now, but the big thing was the line."
In the second quarter, it was the Tempel to Tempel combination that has now produced five TDs. Two of those came within the space of five minutes as the brothers hooked up for TD strikes of 30 and 15 yards. Chavez made one of his two extra point kicks and the stifling Buffaloes' defense kept the Aces in check, taking a commanding 27-0 lead into the locker room.
In that first 24 minutes of play, East's offense was held to just 65 yards, 53 on the ground and only 12 passing yards as they bottled up quarterback T.J. Sparr. Sparr, who had averaged nearly 90 yards per game both rushing and passing, had only 30 rushing yards on 9 carries and was 2-of-6 for 12 yards through the air.
Garden City, meanwhile, had 130 yards rushing as Greyson Tempel had 80 yards on 10 attempts and Dechant had 6 carries for 27 yards. Tempel was just 4-of-9 for 90 yards and the two TDs in the opening half.
Penalties continued to be an issue for the Buffs, being whistled for six flags and 40 yards while East had just one for five yards in the half.
East, 4-2, has to open its 6A district against Wichita Heights and will then face Derby and Wichita Southeast in what may be one of the toughest districts in the class this season.
Garden City 14 13 0 7 -- 34
Wichita East 0 0 13 0 -- 13
GC--Greyson Tempel 7 run (Rudy Chavez kick), 3:32. Drive: 71 yards, 7 plays, 2:10.
GC--Logan Dechant 5 run (Rudy Chavez kick), 2:07. Drive: 11 yards, 2 plays, 0:39.
GC--Dustin Tempel 30 pass from Greyson Tempel (kick failed), 7:28. Drive: 55 yards, 5 plays, 2:13.
GC--Dustin Tempel 15 pass from Greyson Tempel (Rudy Chavez kick), 2:18. Drive: 60 yards, 8 plays, 3:31.
WE--Willie Edwards 60 fumble return (Al Orozco kick), 9:35. Drive: 1 play, 0:09.
WE--T.J. Sparr 1 run (kick blocked), 7:28. Drive: 27 yards, 6 plays, 1:51.
GC--Denton Keller 1 run (Rudy Chavez kick), 11:11. Drive: 62 yards, 19 plays, 8:17.
First downs 19 7
Rushes-yards 47-197 32-70
Passing yards 147 23
Com-Att-Int 10-18-0 3-12-0
Fumbles-lost 5-3 2-2
Penalties-yards 7-45 1-5
Punts-avg. 4-38.2 8-27.3
RUSHING--Garden City: G. Tempel 16-93, Dechant 11-56, Love 5-12, Bean 3-12, Banner 3-12, Keller 8-7. Wichita East: Thomas 14-24, Sparr 15-48, Burnett 3-(-2).
PASSING--Garden City: Keller 1-2-0--8, G. Tempel 9-16-0--139. Wichita East: Sparr 3-12-0--23.
RECEIVING--Garden City: D. Tempel 3-53, Banner 4-33, Foley 1-15, Nevola 1-10, Bean 1-36. Wichita East: Normore 2-18, Garrett 1-5.