Football Capital of Kansas Bowl: Tyler, Texas too much for Busters
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
PITTSBURG — A battered and bruised Jake Curran was helped off the field midway through the third quarter during a cold and wet Football Capital of Kansas Bowl on Sunday.
The Busters were already trailing 33-9 and he had just been sacked for the eighth time in the game, the final one leaving him unconscious for a few scary seconds.
He was able to walk off a few minutes later aided by his teammates and headed to the locker room, but it was the end of his day as the Busters were knocked around all game by the Tyler (Texas) Junior College Apaches, who went on to win 47-21 in dominating fashion at Carnie Smith Stadium on the campus of Pittsburg State University.
The Apache defense harassed both Curran, and his replacement Akeem Jones all game, racking up nine sacks and several more hurries.
On offense, the Apaches were just as physical and lethal, running the ball 54 times for 285 yards and three scores, including touchdown runs of five and two yards from Terrence Taylor.
"I think the difference in the ball game was our defensive front," a giddy Tyler head coach Danny Palmer said after the game. "And for us on offense, of course, without a doubt, it was our offensive front."
The Apaches out-gained the Buster offense 530-214, and salted the game away on the first play in the fourth quarter as sophomore quarterback and the game's Offensive MVP Randy Price found freshman Lamar Carraway wide open behind the Buster secondary for a 72-yard TD strike to make it 40-9, the duo's second long-range connection of the day. The first, a 55-yarder, gave the Apaches a 23-9 lead just after halftime.
"We turned the ball over too many times," defensive coordinator Jeff Kelly said after the game, answering in place of head coach Matt Miller, who was serving a one-game suspension. "We had some breakdown plays."
One of the turnovers was an especially painful turn of events. The Apaches had just scored on Price and Carraway's first long touchdown, and the stalling Buster offense faced a fourth-and-six from midfield, so they faked a punt and Brady Bean rumbled for 19 yards down to the Tyler 33.
But on the next play, Curran was sacked, and the ball bounced around several times and was touched by several different players, but by the time an Apache finally jumped on it, it had traveled all the way back to the Busters 16.
Four plays later, Price found receiver Josh Reynolds on a 2-yard fade in the end zone for a 30-9 lead and the rout was on.
The Busters did chip away at the large lead in the fourth quarter as Jones found Nile Daniel for a 5-yard score and Brandon Snell for 43 yards to cut the deficit to 40-21 after placekicker Tyler Peterson missed both PATs. But the Apaches pulled away again on a 20-yard scamper by Chaston Bennett to hand the Apaches their final margin of victory.
"We've just got to hold onto the ball," a dejected Kelly said after the game.
The Busters finished with four turnovers — three fumbles and an interception. But that was not their only issue as they committed 12 penalties for 118 yards. And had several more offsetting penalties.
"Just kids being kids," Kelly explained. "Some of them being stupid, some of them being smart, but not doing what they're supposed to do."
The Busters also were never able to get star running back Tyreek Hill going. He carried the ball only five times for 17 yards, and had only four catches for 27 yards.
The Apaches helped out on that end, as well, deliberately kicking the ball away from Hill on kickoffs, leaving the Busters with fairly good field position for most of the game. They were never able to take advantage, though.
There was a bright spot for the Busters on defense, though, as usual offensive lineman Colby Hamel helped out a short-handed Buster defensive front, playing defensive tackle.
"Colby played a hell of a football game," Kelly said of the talented sophomore guard. "He's never played D-line in two years. That's just a kid being an athlete."
Hamel finished with 13 tackles, including one for a loss, to lead the Buster defense alongside linebacker Alex Neuschafer, who filled in for suspended middle linebacker D'vonta Derricott, who was out due to being ejected from the Busters' final regular season game at Coffeyville.
The win was the first bowl victory for Tyler since 2003. The Busters have not won back-to-back bowl games since 1995-96.
Tyler sophomore linebacker Larry Thomas was named the game's Defensive MVP.