By BRETT MARSHALL
DERBY — On a night where igloos would have been a welcome warming place, the Garden City Buffaloes might have wished they had gone on a winter break somewhere other than Panther Stadium.
The No. 1-ranked Derby Panthers played everything like the top team in Kansas during the Class 6A state semifinal. And, as coach Brian Hill said in the aftermath, his battered, injured Buffs simply ran out of gas.
When the frigid night came to a somber end, the Buffs were on the far short side of a 55-17 score.
"We just quite honestly ran out of gas," said a reserved Hill. "We've pieced together things pretty well the past few weeks, but tonight it just wasn't enough."
Hill said the Panthers simply had too many weapons on offense, and had one of the fastest defenses he's seen in some time.
"They're difficult to defend, and then they have a great defense," Hill said. "You've got to play a perfect game. They just put pressure on you on the edges, and then they hit you up the middle with the pass."
The Panthers won the opening coin toss, deferred, and ended up having the wind. It would be an omen of just what kind of a frustrating night it would be for the Buffs.
Tyler West capped off an 11-play drive with a 5-yard run with 4:19 to go in the first, and by the time the quarter came to an end, Derby had added two more TDs.
Caleb Arnold and DeAndre Goolsby caught scoring passes from Jeremy Dunham, Arnold's covering 10 yards and Goolsby's going 48 yards.
Goolsby, a 6-4, 225-pound tight end who is headed to Florida, caught five passes for 151 yards.
"He's just such a tough player to cover," Hill said of Goolsby. "That puts pressure on the middle of your defense."
The Buffs got a 33-yard field goal from Ismael Hernandez early in the second but Dunham responded with a 64-yard run.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jared Koster took the ball and somehow came out of pack of defenders, scooted down the sideline, cut back once and then outraced the Panthers to the end zone for a 75-yard score. Hernandez kicked the PAT and it was 28-10, but that was as close as the score would get.
Derby added three more scores before intermission, getting a 4-yard run from West, a 26-yard Dunham-to-Goolsby pass, and a 7-yard run by Arnold.
The running clock, agreed upon by both teams, was used early in the second half after Derby's West raced 57 yards to make it 55-10.
Garden City got one final score in the fourth, getting an 11-yard pass from Greyson Tempel to Caleb Tramp with 4:46 left against the subs for the Panthers.
The Buffs' defense, hampered by numerous injuries throughout the season, had a tough time with the Panthers' potent offense. They yielded 316 rushing yards and 172 passing yards as West led the ground game with 169 yards on 15 carries. Dunham was near-perfect, hitting 6-of-7 for 161 yards.
Garden, meanwhile, struggled to get its usually reliable offense in gear. The Buffs were limited to 195 total yards (100 rushing, 95 passing), its lowest output of the season. Greyson Tempel had 75 yards on 14 carries while Dusty Tempel led the receivers with 3 catches for 65 yards. Greyson was 8-of-22 with one interception.
In the other 6A semifinal on the east side of the state, it was Shawnee Mission East outlasting Olathe North, 37-27. Derby and SM East will face off for the title at 1 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Washburn University's Yager Stadium.
The Buffs finish their season with an 8-4 record, co-champs of the Western Athletic Conference and their best record in more than a decade.
For Hill, it was a tough way for this season to end with 27 seniors playing their final game.
"It's hard to watch it end," Hill said of the group that were freshmen when he first started at the Buffs' helm. "What these kids have done for the program is hard to put into words. They poured their hearts and souls into this, and they accomplished a lot. It is progress. The teams we've beaten says a lot about our kids. Down the road, we'll be able to put this in better perspective and have a sense of understanding of the greater accomplishment."
Notes: After four seasons at the helm of the Buffaloes, Hill has compiled a record of 25-16.
Garden City 0 10 0 7 -- 17
Derby 21 27 7 0 -- 55
DER--Tyler West 5 run (Tim Williamson kick), 0-7, 4:19
DER--Caleb Arnold 10 pass from Jeremy Dunham (Williamson kick), 0-14, 2:29
DER--DeAndre Goolsby 48 pass from Dunham (Williamson kick), 0-21, :03.
GC--Ismael Hernandez 33 field goal, 3-21, 10:18.38
DER--Dunham 64 run (Williamson kick), 3-28, 9:52.
GC--Jared Koster 75 kickoff return (I. Hernandez kick), 10-28, 9:39.
DER--West 4 run (Williamson kick), 10-35, 4:49.
DER--Goolsby 26 pass from Dunham (kick failed), 10-41, 2:53.
DER--Arnold 7 run (Williamson kick), 10-48, 1:39.
DER--West 57 run (Williamson kick), 10-55, 11:07.
GC--Caleb Tramp 11 pass from Greyson Tempel (I. Hernandez kick), 17-55, 4:46.
First downs 12 15
Rushes-yards 29-100 38-316
Passing yards 95 172
Passes (Com-Att-Int) 8-22-1 7-8-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 4-27 7-90
Punts-avg. 5-26.2 2-35.0
RUSHING--Garden City: G. Tempel 14-75, Howard 3-10, Landgraf 2-1, Koster 6-17, D. Tempel 1-(-1), Chiddix 2-2, Team 1-(-4). Derby:Arnold 5-29, Dunham 8-80, West 15-169, Rust 4-24, Award 6-14.
PASSING--Garden City:G. Tempel 8-22-1--95. Derby: Dunham 6-7-0--161, Rust 1-1-0--11.
RECEIVING--Garden City: D. Tempel 3-65, M. Hernandez 2-0, Tramp 3-30. Derby: Goolsby 5-151, Arnold 1-10, Lemons 1-11.