On average, Garden City made the right call.

The Broncbusters had gone for two after a touchdown eight times this season prior to Thursday’s NJCAA Championship game vs. East Mississippi, and had converted five of them.

The Busters went to it once again after pulling within 10-9 with a late touchdown run by Dedrick Mills. Out of their patented swinging gate point-after attempt formation, Nick Bohn took the snap and sprinted out right, pitching it to Kahari Love on the option. He was stopped short of the goal, leaving the Busters one point short of drawing even.

That’s where they’d end up, one point short, 10-9, in a loss to now back-to-back NJCAA champion East Mississippi.

“They didn’t have a guy covering our wideout, they didn’t have a guy covering our pitch man, and they got lined up at the last second,” GCCC head coach Jeff Sims said of the two-point conversion, standing across the field from a jubilant East Mississippi team that went wire-to-wire as the No. 1-ranked team. “That’s what we want. We want them to be confused.”

Even though the Busters line up in it every time they kick a PAT, opposing defenses struggled to handle it this year, and in the last couple of years. But not Thursday, in the biggest play of the season.

“(Bohn) pressed the edge, made the pitch — corner did a great job and fell off the fade and made a tackle,” Sims said. “It was a 1-on-1 tackle.”

East Mississippi did not miss many 1-on-1 tackles all game, holding the Busters to 4.4 yards per carry — and nearly touchdown-less. The Busters had to convert a fourth-and-goal from inches to score, and even that was barely in on pounding running back Dedrick Mills’ explosive effort.

“We could’ve been 10-10, or I see them misalign and we can go ahead and try to win the game,” Sims said. “It wasn’t like we were scoring a whole bunch of points, so we had a chance to win when they looked confused.”

The Busters were held scoreless in the first half, and gave East Mississippi a touchdown with a fumble inside of their own 10 that was scoop-and-scored for the 10-0 lead at halftime. The Busters cut that to 10-3 with Ben Raybon’s 24-yard field goal in the third quarter.

But that’s all the Busters could manage against the country’s best scoring defense, until the defense — which held East Mississippi to just 211 yards and one field goal — exploded three-consecutive Lions’ plays for losses, and Andreus Price returned the punt 20 yards to put it at the Lions’ 33.

Even from there, the Busters needed a roughing the passer call on a long third down to keep the drive alive, and then four runs from inside of the 4 to get into the end zone.

So Sims went for the win.

It just didn’t work.

The Busters’ last several offensive drives did not work either, and an intentional grounding and a sack ended their final hopes of being crowned champs for the second time in three years.

“They made a play and we didn’t, and it’s 10-9 in the national championship game,” Sims said.

 

Contact J. Levi Burnfin at lburnfin@gctelegram.com.