Garden City Community College’s defense had given up just three touchdowns in two games prior to Saturday, and just one of those came from more than 20 yards out.
The Broncbusters gave up two 60-plus yard touchdowns in the first four minutes of their game at Independence, and found themselves down 21-3 just 20 minutes into the game.
But a pair of late second-quarter scores and a kick-off return for touchdown to begin the second half sent the 7th-ranked Busters to an emotional 28-21 win over the 13th-ranked Pirates.
“…this game meant a lot to the players, and it meant a lot to them because we’re in a different world with Netflix,” GCCC head coach Jeff Sims said.
What he meant was the Busters will get to re-live this win in the summer of 2019, when Season 4 of Netflix’s "Last Chance U" debuts, chronicling this season’s Independence squad.
“Netflix was everywhere, in our pregame, in our locker room — everywhere,” Sims said.
The cameras likely also caught the post-game “woofing” between Sims and his Independence counterpart Jason Brown.
The duo continued their antagonistic relationship that was featured in Season 3 of "Last Chance U," in which both coaches had remarks about the other that each found disrespectful.
And Brown claimed responsibility for a good portion of the Busters’ 2016 national championship, despite only coaching at GCCC prior to the 2015 season before resigning as offensive coordinator days before the season. Brown also claimed on the show that a physical altercation with Sims prompted his resignation, and Sims claims no such physical altercation happened.
That's what prompted the post-game altercation Saturday.
“I just said, ‘You can’t say the things you said on TV and expect us to take it, because they’re all lies,” Sims said.
The two teams did face off on the field after Sims' and Browns' exchange of words, according to the Montgomery County Record. Brown even had to be held back from escalating the incident by assistant coaches, according to several news source.
But ultimately, the incident was nothing more than some yelling, Sims said.
"It was woofing," he said. "No kids threw any punches. Nobody did anything. The truth of the matter is, I told them what they said about us were all lies ...
“He (Brown) takes credit for a national championship that we had a lot of people work really, really hard for that he never met … He left in 2015, when we went 3-8. The next year, we won the national championship, and he claims that one?
“It’s shameful, but we’re proud to move on and glad to get the win."
The Busters nearly let the game get away from them early, though. They allowed a 69-yard pass on Independence’s first play from scrimmage — with quarterback Malik Henry making his first start and hitting Markiese King in stride for the score — and then gave up an 88-yard touchdown run by Otumous Payemanu on 3rd and 11 on the Pirates’ next offensive possession. Four minutes in, and the Busters were down 14-0.
Garden City was able to break into the scorebook by capping a 13-play, 78-yard drive with a 23-yard field goal to make it 14-3.
But Independence returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards to the Buster 10. Three plays later, Payemanu made it 21-3 for the Pirates with a 7-yard score.
At that point, the Pirates had 205 offensive yards. For the rest of the game, they’d manage just 95 more.
“We eliminated their big plays,” Sims said. “Once we got those things straightened out, we just kind of chipped away.”
The Busters used their punishing running attack to chip away, starting with a nine-play, 75-yard drive to make it 21-10 on David Moore’s 1-yard quarterback sneak. The drive was comprised of eight rushes and just one pass.
The GCCC defense then forced a three-and-out for Independence, and the Busters went right back to the run. This time, they went 80 yards in 10 plays (seven runs) and made it 21-16 on Dedrick Mills’ 3-yard burst. Mills finished with 125 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Mills also ran in a 2-point conversion to make it 21-18 going into halftime.
“That was huge,” Sims said. “21-18 is way different than 21-10; 21-18, after being down 21-3, you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, ‘Wow, we’re in this game, and we played horrible.’”
They did not have to wait long into the second half to take their first lead as Charles West returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for the score, and the Busters led 25-21.
West also ran for 142 rushing yards on 26 carries, and caught two balls for 14 yards.
Ben Raybon added a field goal for the Busters midway through the fourth quarter, but missed another one later in the quarter. It didn’t matter, not with the defense holding Independence to 92 second-half yards.
“I’m just telling you, there’s something special with Charles West and Dedrick Mills and our offensive line,” Sims said. “And there’s something special with Dillon Williams and our defense. Those kids are worth coming to watch.”
Contact J. Levi Burnfin at firstname.lastname@example.org.