Defense paves way to Buffaloes' romp over Liberal
By BRETT MARSHALL
No matter how many times they get knocked to the football mat, the Garden City Buffaloes find a way to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move on.
And they didn't have a better example of that than Friday night's 37-14 romp over the Liberal Redskins at Buffalo Stadium in a game that was broken wide open in the second half.
"The kids just face adversity and find a way to keep fighting back and doing the things that the coaches tell them to do," coach Brian Hill said in the moments after the game. "I didn't know if we'd respond this week or next week, or whenever, but they listened and played a great game."
Hill had to be especially proud of a defense that kept the Redskins off the board in the second half. This was a Liberal team that was averaging nearly 50 points a game, putting 34 points on Hays and 48 on Dodge City, both in Western Athletic Conference losses.
And Liberal went into the locker room for the Homecoming halftime, having cut a 19-7 deficit to 19-14 at intermission.
When the teams came back for the start of the third quarter, Liberal got the opening kickoff and drove all the way to the Buffs' 34 before two passes by Britton Abbott fell incomplete as the Buffaloes' defense set the tempo for the rest of the game.
"You can't say enough about the defense," offensive lineman Ben Blood said. "They really stuck in there and did a great job against their offense. It gave our offense a chance to get some rhythm, make some good plays and get some momentum."
The game marked the first win for the Buffs at the new Buffalo Stadium, after losses to Bixby, Okla., and a heartbreaking 29-21 loss to Hays last week.
"Last week was a heartbreaker, but this feels incredible," Blood said. "I think the O-line was able to do their job and we had a nice run/pass game to complement each other."
The Buffaloes never trailed, and they once again got a memorable performance from junior quarterback Greyson Tempel.
The 5-10, 175-pounder, who had amassed 276 yards rushing two weeks prior at Great Bend, finished the night with 168 yards rushing on 24 carries and completed 17-of-23 passes for 305 yards with no interceptions.
He had three touchdown passes — 30 yards to twin brother Dustin in the first quarter, 27 yards to Jonathan DuVall in the second period and a 7-yarder to Brady Bean midway through the third period to break the Redskins.
"The receivers just made a lot of great runs after the catches tonight," Greyson Tempel said. "Logan (Dechant, 8 carries 59 yards) made some great lines and I can't say enough about the offensive line. They gave me time to throw and opened up big holes."
But the Buffs' signal caller said this game and victory belonged to the defense.
"The defense shut them out in the second half and nobody's even come close to that all year," Greyson Tempel said. "Last week (Hays loss) was tough, but we came back and fought through it. This is a great win for us."
Tempel added in a 14-yard TD scamper on the first play of the second quarter and Rudy Chavez' kick made it 13-0.
Liberal's junior quarterback, Abbott, and son of head coach Clint, scored the first of his two TDs midway through the second when he bulled his way in from the 2-yard line.
DuVall's touchdown catch and a failed 2-point pass made it 19-7 with 3:24 remaining in the half.
Then, the Redskins got their best momentum going of the game, going 80 yards in 15 plays and getting on the board with Abbott breaking two tackles on a 2-yard run. There were just 49.4 seconds left before the break and Cesar Saquic's PAT kick cut the deficit to 19-14.
Garden regained the momentum for the second half when the Buffs stopped the Redskins' opening drive of the second half and Hill said it was the key to the game.
"We had been bending a little, but that stop was a big deal," Hill said. "I told the offense they had to play well to help the defense and tonight I think it was little of both."
From that point, old momentum swung to the Buffs and they never let go.
Tempel's pass to Bean capped off a 34-yard drive in six plays. After another big defensive stop by the Buffs, the offense went back to work and drove 69 yards with Tempel racing 35 yards for the final TD of the night. That came with just 50 seconds left in the third, increasing the Buffs' lead to 34-14.
Chavez tacked on a 34-yard field goal at the 7:21 mark of the fourth to finish off the scoring.
The Buffs are now 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the WAC. Liberal falls to 1-4 and 0-3. Garden City hits the road for its final non-district contest on Friday, a 7 p.m. game at Wichita East. Liberal, meanwhile, heads home for a WAC battle with Great Bend, which produced perhaps the biggest surprise of the Friday night schedule, upending Dodge City on the road, 24-7. In other WAC action Friday, Hays High rolled past Wichita South, 55-12.
Liberal 0 14 0 0 -- 14
Garden City 6 13 15 3 -- 37
GC--Dustin Tempel 30 pass from Greyson Tempel (kick failed), 7:29
GC--Greyson Tempel 14 run (Rudy Chavez kick), 11:53
LIB--Britton Abbott 2 run (Cesar Saquic kick), 8:23
GC--Jonathan DuVall 27 pass from Greyson Tempel (pass failed), 3:24
LIB--Abbott 4 run (Saquic kick), 0:49.4
GC--Brady Bean 7 pass from Greyson Tempel (Bean run), 6:07
GC--Greyson Tempel 35 run (Chavez kick), 0:50.1
GC--Rudy Chavez 34 field goal, 7:21
First downs 21 24
Rushes-yards 31-142 37-261
Passing yards 233 305
Com-Att-Int 20-37-1 17-23-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 9-80 11-64
Punts-avg. 3-39.0 1-32.0
RUSHING--Liberal: Abbott 23-106, Torres 5-11, Heronemus 3-25. Garden City: G. Tempel 24-168, Love 1-5, Bean 4-29, Dechant 8-59.
PASSING--Liberal: Abbott 20-36-1--233; Hammond 0-1-0--0. Garden City: G. Tempel 17-23-0--305.
RECEIVING--Liberal: Lewis 3-27, Hammond 6-112, Larkin 3-29, Torres 9-72, Pando 1-16. Garden City: DuVall 3-41, D. Tempel 7-123, Banner 4-73, Foley 2-16, Nevola 1-45, Bean 1-7.
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