Broncbusters edge Dodge in gridiron rivalry showdown

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College defensvie back Antoine Davis, left, knocks the ball away from Dodge City wide receiver Tristan Jones in the endzone to prevent a touchdown Saturday at Broncbuster Stadium.  The Broncbuster came away with the rivalry game victory, 34-24.

There's just something different in the air when Garden City Community College and Dodge City Community College collide. Saturday night was no exception.

Marred by a slew of flags, sloppy play, and ejections, the Broncbusters found a way. Jordan Ford tallied his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season, totaling 154 on the ground and three scores, and sixth-ranked Garden City came from behind to beat the Conquistadors 34-24 at Broncbuster Stadium. It was the brown and gold's fifth straight victory over their rivals from the east.

"It was very important to get a win in this game, especially against a rival," GCCC Head Coach Tom Minnick said afterwards. "But we had a lot of guys banged up; a couple of which are out for the season. We had another guy go down today. We just don't have a lot of depth."

That depth was severely tested on Saturday night. Starting defensive back Keylon Kenney was in street clothes, corner Antoine Davis was ejected in the first quarter for targeting, and offensive lineman Basa Balanganayi was tossed after his second unsportsmanlike conduct call. Then in the second half, Tahron Sims was kicked out following a personal-foul penalty.

"I think, to a certain extent, we had guys feeling sorry for themselves," Minnick explained. "Jonathan Huggins, our best defensive player was out again, so they were feeling sorry about that. Then we found out that one of our kids was ineligible for this game, so everybody's feeling sorry for him. They needed to just focus on the game."

Garden City looked rather uninspired to begin the contest. Jace Orndorff's soaring punt on Dodge City's first possession deflected off the thigh of return man Khamran Laborn, and Slayton Clark recovered for the Conquistadors at the Broncbuster 34. And that sequence proved to be even more costly.

Though Dodge City failed to score despite moving the ball to the Garden City six, they hit the home team where it really hurt. On a fourth-down scramble, third-string quarterback Rashad McKee, who made his first start of the season for Head Coach Ricky Coon, was lying on the ground when Davis came in late and hit him helmet to helmet. Moments later, the sophomore corner was tossed igniting a testy first half between two teams with no love loss for one another.

"We just needed to start playing," Minnick said. "We were worried about way too many other things than just the game. And that really hurt us."

Garden City Community College running back Jordan Ford, center, speeds past Dodge City's Nico Perofeta (6) and Jontrell Steward (55) to the outside and scores a touchdown Saturday at Broncbuster Stadium.

Truth be told, the Conquistadors where their own worst enemy all night. They failed inside the red zone twice in the first 15 minutes of the game with the second of those opportunities coming to a screeching halt when Arvelle Ferguson and Michael Harris stuffed Mel Dantzler on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

"Our defense rose to the occasion when they needed to again," Minnick said.

The second-year coach though needed to see more from his offense, which got a jump start midway through the first quarter when Mike Irwin, who made his second straight start for the ailing Devin Larsen, engineered a 10-play, 88-yard drive that included a beautiful connection with Scieneaux Jarmon on a seam route for 24 yards. Two plays later, Ford galloped into the end zone off left tackle, putting the Broncbusters up 7-0 with 5:14 remaining in the period.

But the rest of the half was highlighted by more inconsistency and some head-scratching decisions.

After Dodge City knotted the score on CJ Hall's two-yard rushing touchdown that was setup by McKee's perfect 43-yard toss to Deonte Rarrieck down the left sideline, the Broncbusters marched to the Conquistador 8-yard line on their ensuing possession. But with just over a minute to go in the second, Irwin inexplicably clocked the ball on second-and-1, leaving the coaching staff in a state of shock. They eventually failed to convert on third down, and instead had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Joe Carol that put Garden City up 10-7 at the break.

"We made some mistakes, but I think, finally the offense stepped up," Minnick stated.

And they needed to in the second half once Dodge City grabbed the lead. Hall's 65-yard dance to paydirt on the Conquistadors' first offensive sequence of the third put the road team up 14-10. Then, after a Garden City three-and-out, Landon Guidry drilled a 38-yard field goal to make it 17-10.

"We had to make plays," Minnick said. "I thought we ran the ball much better in the second half."

That effort was spearheaded by improved offensive line play and by Ford, whose 16-yard touchdown run midway through the third, tied the game at 17. The Broncbusters added a field goal late in the quarter to go back up by three.

But Dodge City, which had lost 15 straight games to ranked opponents entering Saturday night's tilt, refused to go away, and on their first possession of the fourth, McKee slipped a pass to Willie Gaines, who raced 62 yards for a touchdown, putting the Conquistadors ahead 24-20 with 12:36 remaining.

It was all Broncbusters after that, thanks in large part to Ford, whose 35-yard rushing touchdown on Garden City's next possession put the Broncbusters on top for good. Later in the quarter, Irwin fit a ball into a tight window down the left sideline for Laborn, who made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch for a 45-yard gain. Three plays after that, Devion Hodges weaved his way 29 yards to the end zone, giving the home squad a 10-point cushion with 6:14 to go.  

"For the most part, we played well in all three phases," Minnick said. "It was far from perfect, but we got the job done."

Irwin finished 12-of-25 for 204 yards for Garden City, which improved to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play. Ford rushed the ball 35 times, and Jarmon caught four balls for 94.

McKee was 13-of-31 for 241 yards and one touchdown for Dodge City, which lost their 13th straight game to an NJCAA opponent. Hall became the second straight back to hit the century mark against Jerry Dominguez's defense, tallying 131 yards on 14 carries.

Garden City is now off a week, and will host Coffeyville at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 15.