Fourth quarter dooms Broncbusters in loss

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College running back William Knight, left, breaks up the middle off a block by lineman Carter Habich for a 77-yard touchdown run against Hutchinson Saturday at Broncbuster Stadium.  The fourth quarter doomed GCCC again, losing 24-16 to the Blue Dragons.

Waking up from a nightmare can be a cruel reality. Doing it two weeks in a row in nearly the same fashion is enough to drive even the most lucid human on earth insane. Welcome to Junior College football.

Dylan Liable tossed two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, Anwar Lewis rushed for 146 yards and a score, and defending National Champion Hutchinson handed Garden City Community College a gut-wrenching 24-16 defeat Saturday night at Broncbuster Stadium.

"This one is tough because it's another game we should have won," GCCC Head Coach Tom Minnick said afterwards.

In retrospect, the Broncbusters were their own worst enemy all night. Four red-zone trips produced a single field goal, and 403 yards of offense and 36:20 total time of possession yielded just 16 points as Garden City dropped back-to-back games for the first time in the Minnick era.

"How many times can you make the same mistakes and still expect to win a football game?" Minnick asked.

Just like last week, Garden City held a fourth-quarter lead. But all that changed in a flash when Liable hit Cortez Braham for a 44-yard touchdown pass five minutes into the final period. Then, following a Broncbuster three-and-out, Liable went back to the air, connecting with Micah Woods on a 22-yard score which capped a five-play, 78-yard drive that put the Blue Dragons up 24-16 with 5:32 remaining.

"We have to finish drives; it's been our problem the last three games," Minnick admitted. "We move the ball but don't finish."

With more than enough time left, Garden City responded on their next drive. Rhett Ricedorff, who missed the past two weeks because of illness, fired a strike to Martiel Singleton for 20 yards. A few plays later, on third-and-10 from the Blue Dragon 36, Ricedorff again found Singleton for 13 to move the chains. But facing a fourth-and-8 at the Hutchinson 21, the freshman quarterback's pass bounced in and out of Singleton's hands in the end zone as he fell backwards towards the turf. Game over.

"We shouldn't have been in that situation to begin with," Minnick said. "That's just reality."

The entire night was filled with more missed opportunities. After Lewis put the Blue Dragons on the board two plays into the game on an 84-yard touchdown run, the Broncbusters answered with their own long jaunt. William Knight exploded up the middle for a 77-yard score to make it a one-point contest. But Jason Hernandez missed the extra point.

"Special teams did not help us out tonight," Minnick stated.

With a chance to grab the lead early in the second, Hernandez pushed a 25-yard field goal wide right. Then, with another opportunity to go in front, Ryan Felker's offense stalled at the Hutchinson 6. 

After some thought, Minnick replaced Hernandez with punter William Greig, who drilled a 23-yard field goal. But official Mark Kinman flagged the Blue Dragons for a personal foul penalty for leaping over the center. Following a long discussion, Garden City initially declined the penalty. But once the officials huddled back together, it was determined that it should have been an automatic first down. So, the offense trotted back out onto the field, and on the next play Dedrick Talbert cashed in on a three-yard rushing touchdown to give the Broncbusters a 13-7 advantage going into the locker room.

"We moved the ball all night; that wasn't a problem," Minnick said. "We just have to find a way to finish those drives with touchdowns."

Following a Hutchinson field goal early in the third, Ricedorff directed a 12-play 45-yard drive that short circuited after a third-down conversion was wiped out due to a holding penalty. On the next play, Ricedorff threw a laser to Singleton in the end zone that deflected off his chest. Greig was summoned again but his 47-yard attempt was wide left.

After Tyrese Gibson Battles' sack ended Hutchinson's ensuing drive, the Broncbusters marched 57 yards in just under 4:30. This time, Greig connected on a 42-yard kick that stretched the lead to six.

Ricedorff finished 25-of-37 for 191 yards for Garden City, which lost to Hutchinson for a second straight time. Knight tallied 115 yards on 13 carries, and Favour Okhavhe had three catches for 42.

Liable was 14-of-32 for 218 yards and two touchdowns for Hutchinson, which won their second straight game following an 0-2 start. Braham caught five balls for 128 yards and a touchdown.

Notes: Garden City finished 4-of-18 on third down…The Broncbusters ran 22 more plays than Hutchinson

Garden City will be in action next at Dodge City on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Hutchinson  7; 0; 3; 14; — 24

Garden City  6; 7; 0; 3; — 16