Broncbusters blast Fort Scott in season opener, 76-24

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Devion Hodges makes his way along the sideline on a run during a game last season against Coffeyville at Broncbuster Stadium.

GCCC moves up to No. 2 in polls

FORT SCOTT - Garden City Community College first-year offensive coordinator Ryan Felker's plan was simple entering the 2021 campaign: put as much pressure on an opposing defense as humanly possible, mixing in a spread offense with an up-tempo, high-powered attack that brought teams to their knees. So far, mission accomplished.  

Rhett Ricedorff and Jack Baltz combined to throw four touchdowns, the defense forced six turnovers, and No. 3 Garden City wiped out Fort Scott 76-24 Saturday night at Frary Field. The 76 points tied a school record.

"We have so many things to clean up," GCCC Head Coach Tom Minnick said. "We were way too sloppy with penalties."

Garden City produced 595 total yards of offense. But that number almost paled in comparison to the infractions. The brown and gold were flagged 22 times for 225 yards.

"If we do that against a top team, we're in trouble," Minnick explained. "That just can't happen."

Still, the offense looked rejuvenated under Felker, whose platoon system at quarterback confused the Greyhounds for most of the night. On Garden City's opening drive, Baltz directed a seven-play, 51-yard march that resulted in William Knight's three-yard sprint to the end zone off of right tackle. Moments later, after Marcus Dean picked off Reagan Davenport, the Broncbusters scored again-this time it was second-year man Devion Hodges dancing 10 yards to paydirt putting Garden City up 14-0 less than five minutes into the game.

"Our offensive line played pretty well," Minnick said. "They kept our guys upright, and we were able to run the football."

The Broncbusters tallied 170 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. But make no mistake about it-everything was setup by Felker's aerial assault, which was on full display late in the first quarter when Baltz hooked up with David Elder for a 15-yard scoring toss that made it 21-0.

"We have three capable quarterbacks," Minnick stated. "It makes play calling that much easier."

Following a Fort Scott touchdown in the final seconds of the opening period that was setup by a bizarre, dropped interception, which resulted in Semaj James 41-yard reception and later a nine-yard touchdown pass by Davenport, the Broncbusters responded with a nine-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Dedrick Talbert's five-yard rushing score. Couple that with Chris Smith's pick that setup Ricedorff's 31-yard touchdown pass to Jacobi Bellazin, and Garden City was up 35-7. Knight punched it in from 13 yards out on Garden City's next possession, and Baltz hit a wide-open Marquez Powell, who snagged a beautiful spiral while lying on his back in the middle of the south end zone for 49-10 advantage at the intermission.

"It's hard to judge how good you are after just one game," Minnick said. "We just need to keep getting better. Our goal isn't to win the conference. Our goal is to win the whole thing. We are playing for the National Championship."

Garden City, which beat Fort Scott for a sixth consecutive time, showed no signs of slowing down in the third. Ricedorff found David Elder on a rainbow 44-yard scoring strike 73 seconds into the second half. All-American Keylon Kennedy returned a punt 40 yards for a touchdown, Manace Freeman strolled seven yards to the house; then added a 25-yard score late in the fourth, and Garden City hung 76 points on the Greyhounds for the second consecutive season. In fact, in their last five meetings, the Broncbusters have outscored Fort Scott 320-42.

"This game is over, and it's onto the next one," Minnick said. "We can't get caught up in this. But our guys did what they were supposed to do. Now we focus on Highland."

Ricedorff finished 10-of-14 for 191 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for Garden City, which won for the 23rd time in their last 27 road games. Baltz, who started the game, went 14-of-26 for 180 yards and two scores. Freeman ran for a team-best 49 yards, Bellazin reeled in six balls for 69 yards and a touchdown, and Adrian Hopper and Chris Smith each produced seven tackles.

Ethan Daltillio was 14-of-33 for 103 yards and an interception for Fort Scott, which lost for the fifth straight time and eighth time in their last nine games. The Greyhounds last victory was Nov. 9, 2019, at Dodge City.

MOVING UP IN POLLS

With the Saturday victory, the Broncbusters moved up one spot in the latest NJCAA rankings, coming in at No. 2 behind Snow.

"We're not satisfied where we are," Head Coach, Tom Minnick said. "There is so much more work that has to be done. No. 2 is great, but it's only week two."

There was a bit of a shakeup in the top five thanks to Jones knocking off previous No. 2 Northwest Mississippi on Thursday. Kilgore slid up to No. 3, Iowa Western was fourth, and Mississippi Gulf Coast, who barely squeaked by Northeast, was fifth. More notable is that Independence is now sixth and Coffeyville, which upset defending National Champion Hutchinson in week one, made an appearance in the top 10 at No. 9. The Pirates visit Broncbuster Stadium on Sept. 25.

The Broncbusters have now been ranked in 48 straight polls and 55 out of the last 59. This is their highest ranking since Dec. 3, 2018, when Garden City finished second in the final poll.

Garden City will be in action Saturday with a 1 p.m. kickoff on the road at Highland.