Garden City Community College opens season with a 63-6 rout over Arkansas Baptist
How long it had been since Tom Minnick last coached in a game. Crazy, right? 450 days. But on Saturday, the future Hall of Famer was back doing what he loves, and his team took out more than a year's worth of frustration on a totally overmatched opponent.
Jordan Ford was electric rushing for 182 yards and two touchdowns, Iowa State transfer Devin Larsen threw a pair or scores, and Garden City Community College crushed Arkansas Baptist 63-6 at Broncbuster Stadium.
"Kids were anxious to play," Minnick said afterwards. "You felt bad for them because they missed out on their fall season. It felt great to just get back into it because that was a long layoff."
And for the most part, with the exception of a few hiccups, the Broncbusters were in fine form.
Ford and Kentucky-transfer Xavier Peters carried the load on Garden City's opening drive. Following a short punt by Arshaad Yancy that set the Broncbusters up at the Buffalo 39, the sophomore returner raced off right guard for 19 yards. Peters followed with a physical 18-yard rumble, and the Broncbusters were setup with first-and-goal at the 2. Two plays later, it was Ford again, blasting up the middle for a one-yard touchdown and a 6-0 advantage.
"In Garden City, with this wind, you have to be able to run the ball," Minnick said with a smile. "In this league, if you try to throw it all over the place, you're not going to get anywhere."
Thanks to another short field, Garden City made it 13-0 the next time they had the ball, driving 36 yards in just three plays before Peters wiggled across the goal line off the left side. It was a welcome site for Minnick, who made the decision during camp to move the former Wildcat from defensive end to running back.
"It's been funny how fast he looks in practice," Minnick explained. "Nobody can stop him. We just have to make sure he hangs on to the ball."
The sophomore made a splash in his Broncbuster debut spearheading a ground attack that produced 294 yards on 54 attempts. Peters averaged almost five yards per tote.
"When you can run the ball in this league, you give yourself a chance," Minnick stated.
In all honestly, Garden City didn't need the running attack to be great on Saturday. If fact, average would have sufficed. But with veteran offensive coordinator, Mike Orthmann calling the shots, average just isn't good enough, even if they were heavy favorites in their season opener.
In the second quarter, defensive end Arvell Ferguson dashed into the backfield and sacked Cedric Andrews in the end zone for a safety. Then, right before the half, Ford put the finishing touches on a nine-play, 75-yard march with a three-yard scoring run, putting Garden City up 22-0 going into the locker room.
"We are built to run the ball," Minnick said. "That's what we do well. But we also have a quarterback who has a big arm and actually performs better throwing into the wind."
Larsen didn't have to do much in the season opener, but one look at the 6-4 redshirt freshman's pinpoint accuracy in gusty conditions was all Minnick and company needed to see.
On Garden City's first possession of the third, Larsen showed off that powerful right arm with a seven-yard slant into the wind to Khamran Laborn, squeezing the line-drive pass in between two defenders. He followed that up with a beautiful ball to Scieneaux Jarmon in the back-left corner of the end zone that made it 29-0.
"This was his (Larsen's) first game in almost two years," Minnick said. "So, he, like everyone else, was trying to get their feet wet. We have a lot of guys who transferred in that haven't played in a long time. But we fully expect everyone to get better and better as we go on."
After Chris Smith's 30-yard scoop and score stretched the lead to 36-0, Larsen was at it again, launching a 40-yard bomb that Austin Simmons came up with at the Arkansas Baptist 10. One play later, Larsen went right back to the freshman from Sandy Springs, GA in the right corner of the end zone, lobbing a fade that Simmons snagged away from LaKendrick Holm for a touchdown and a 42-0 advantage. Johnathan Huggins added a two-yard scoring run early in the fourth, Devion Hodges turned a short field into an eight-yard touchdown jaunt later on, and Martez Jones sprinted 27 yards to the end zone to make it 63-6.
The only blemish on this day came midway through the third when Andrews, who was absolutely crunched by Ferguson before he got rid of the ball, hit Andre Barnes for a 53-yard touchdown. Other than that, the Buffaloes did nothing, totaling just 80 yards on the day.
Larsen finished 8-of-13 for 114 yards and two touchdowns for Garden City, which won a season opener for the fifth consecutive year. Simmons caught three balls for 66 and a score, and Raymond Cutts tallied five tackles and two forced fumbles.
Andrews was 7-of-13 for 77 yards and a touchdown for Arkansas Baptist, who have now been outscored 117-6 in their last two games dating back to the 2019 season.
ARK BAPTIST 0; 0; 6; 0; - 6
GARDEN CITY 13; 9; 20; 21; - 63
Garden City will host Fort Scott at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Broncbuster Stadium.