WICHITA — In Hollywood, it is known as “flipping the script.”
But that’s exactly what Northwest did Friday night, piling up a 23-point fourth quarter to erase a 23-6 deficit and emerge with a 36-23 victory over visiting and previously Garden City.
A year ago in Garden City, the roles were reversed as the Grizzlies jumped out to an early 27-0 lead before the Buffaloes came back for a 46-34 triumph, outscoring Northwest 32-7 after halftime.
It seemed somewhat improbable after a first half in which Northwest committed a number (13) of penalties, finishing with 19 for the night – including one that negated a potential go-ahead touchdown.
But when Grizzlies quarterback Austin Anderson found Jalen Smith for the go-ahead points with 2:43 to play, things started to roll for Northwest — and close in on Garden City.
Afterward, Garden City coach Brian Hill said it was easy to understand the two different endings.
“It’s just what happens when two good football teams get together,” he said. “We dominated the first half, because they were misfiring and not making plays. Then, in the second half, they started making plays and we didn’t.”
Northwest sealed the victory with 17 points inside the final three minutes.
“We were desperate,” Hill said of the homestretch. “We got close, and we made some bad choices, and they made plays.
“That’s what it really came down to, was I feel that the third quarter was the big part that really led to the fourth quarter.”
In the third period, Northwest (5-1) scored just one touchdown but had Garden City (5-1) constantly on its heels, frequently forcing the Buffaloes to punt. Garden City had the wind at its back in the period — a wind that led to very short Grizzlies punts against it in the second quarter and giving the Buffaloes short fields, which Garden was able to capitalize on.
Hill said that wind advantage in the third quarter provided some lost opportunities.
“We had some dropped passes, passes that were just outside the reach of some guys," Hill said. "We were making those plays in the first half and didn’t in the second.”
Big plays late sealed Garden City’s fate.
Josh Benoit hit a 45-yard field goal as time ran out to give Northwest its needed 13-point margin of victory.
Jaxton Reynolds picked off Garret Doll with 1:40 left and returned it 46 yards to clinch the victory. A two-point attempt failed.
Bedeviling Northwest in the first half were a couple of short punts that gave Garden City short fields, and the Buffaloes took advantage, with Doll twice hitting 6-foot-3 junior receiver Tye Davis for scoring passes of 19 and 28 yards.
Doll was pass-happy in the opening half, hitting five of 16 for 131 yards and the two scores. He finished completing 12 of 36 for 176 yards and the two scores.
Hill said Northwest provided a good test for the Buffaloes — especially with a game against arch-rival Dodge City next week. That game will be at Buffalo Stadium.
“We wanted to find out where we were,” he said. “I’m disappointed we lost, but I’m still proud of my football team moving forward.”