The Garden City Busters football team made a convincing final argument for a potential postseason bowl bid Saturday afternoon in Fort Scott, blowing out the Greyhounds, 69-0, in the Busters’ largest margin of victory in program history.
The 69-point margin eclipses the previous best mark of 68 points in a 75-7 win over Highland in 1999 and 74-6 over now-defunct Parsons in 1954. It’s also the ninth-most points the Busters have scored in program history.
“It’s fun because it’s the last game of the regular season,” head coach Jeff Sims said. “It’s the culmination of a whole season’s worth of hard work.”
The Busters (8-3, 5-2) had 430 yards of offense — 315 on the ground — and held Fort Scott (4-6, 2-5) to just 160 yards, while gaining a pair of takeaways, including a 70-yard interception return by Warren Saba that gave the Busters a 28-0 lead late in the first half.
“Now it’s 28-0 against a team that knows it’s the end of their season, and then we got up and started running the ball,” Sims said. “It was a team that has a purpose (Garden City) against a team that was counting the minutes.”
The Busters improved to 8-3, upping their stock for the nine bowl committees looking for participants for the bowls set for the first weekend in December. Any official invite to an NJCAA bowl will not come until Tuesday.
“Our last four games, we’ve won 176-34. We’re killing people in the turnover ratio,” Sims said. “Our quarterback is playing really well … so I think we’re playing the way we want to be playing.”
And the desire to play in a bowl game has motivated the Busters, Sims said.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that doesn’t want to play (a bowl) as bad as you can want to play,” Sims said. “We’ll play anybody, anywhere at any time. My question to you is this, ‘Who wants to play us?’”
On Saturday, it wasn’t the Greyhounds.
On the host’s first possession, quarterback Dalton Sneed took a keeper 47 yards down to the Busters’ 36, and then the Greyhounds picked up another first down on a fourth-down attempt to get to the 18. But the Buster defense stiffened, and turned the Greyhounds over on downs after a fourth-and-4 pass from Sneed fell incomplete.
The Busters marched 86 yards in 14 plays, capped by quarterback Terry Wilson’s 23-yard run on fourth-and-3, to make it 7-0. Then, early in the second quarter, Wilson found Nigel Kilby for 10 yards and Billy Mance for 12 yards for a pair of touchdown passes to make it 21-0.
Late quarter, the Greyhounds had gone 51 yards on 11 plays and were down to the Buster 27, but quarterback Garrett Sharp’s pass was picked by Saba and returned for the score to make it 28-0. After another Fort Scott punt, Wilson found Daniel Davis for 21 yards to complete a five-play, 59-yard drive and make it 35-0 at half.
In the second half, the Busters went to the ground, rushing for 172 yards. Charles West finished with 177 yards on 19 carries, and Taylor Thomas had 62 yards and three scores on 13 attempts. Wilson finished 9-of-10 passing for three touchdowns and 89 yards, before being pulled for reserve quarterback Rayvon Bartlett.
“I’m just as proud of this year’s team as I was of last year’s team (national champions),” Sims said. “The sophomore class has won 19 games, and has a chance to win back-to-back bowl games and get their 20th win, which I think is pretty good stuff.”
Awaiting a potential bowl invite, the Busters will take Sunday and Monday off, before learning about their postseason fate and possibly returning to practice to prepare for whatever opponent they may face in a bowl game.
And Sims is looking forward to it.
“We’re the defending national champions, and now we’re rolling,” he said.
Note: Late Saturday night, Independence held off a late Coffeyville rally to win 27-22 and be crowned solo conference champions. If the Pirates had lost, they would have shared the conference title with Butler and Garden City, which tied with each other for second in the KJCCC.