Buffalo defense shuts out Liberal. while offense explodes for 49 points
It was just the right kind of football game for Brian Hill to watch.
The 11th year Buffaloes’ head coach has preached all season that for his team to be successful they must control the ball on the ground with its offense and then use its stifling defense to keep the opponent from the end zone.
He got all of that and more on Friday as the Buffs steamrolled Western Athletic Conference foe Liberal, 49-0, at Buffalo Stadium. In the process, the Buffs won their fourth straight game to improve to 4-1 overall and remained spotless in the WAC at 2-0.
For Hill, it was his 10th win against Liberal in 11 games and came one year after a disappointing 20-6 road loss in Liberal during a season that ended with a 3-6 mark. Now, things have turned around following a season-opening 21-6 loss to Manhattan. In retrospect, the loss doesn’t look quite as bad as it did then, with Manhattan now sporting a 5-0 record.
The Buffaloes owned a 7-0 lead after one quarter when Zack Keosengphet bowled over from the 1-yard line midway through the period. With the Buffs’ defense controlling the Liberal offense, Hill watched as his team pounded the ball on another drive, all on the ground, capped off by another 1-yard plunge by Keosengphet.
That 14-0 lead seemed in jeopardy when the Redskins made their deepest drive into Buffs’ territory, getting inside the 10-yard line before fumbling the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. Three plays later, speedy Emmanuel Charite dashed 66 yards and a two-point conversion made it 21-0 with just under two minutes remaining before the break.
“That just turned the tide, because Emmanuel then got his long touchdown three plays later and it was 21-0 and then we got that TD in the third,” Hill said. “So we got 14 points without Liberal ever touching the ball.”
As he has done throughout his coaching career, Hill had deferred to the second half after winning the coin toss and the Buffs got the third-quarter kickoff and marched down to score on Caleb Wiese’s 7-yard run, upping the margin to 28-0. In essence, that took the wind out of any sails the Redskins might have had.
“I didn’t feel we were very sharp through most of the first half,” said Hill, who noted it was a little bit of keeping focus after the Buffs’ stunning 27-21 win over Hays the Friday before. “Most of the first half we just kind of went through motions, but I thought the key was when Emmanuel (Charite) went the distance for the touchdown late. That score, and then our score to start the third quarter, kind of put the game out of reach.”
The rout was on and Zane Burns, filling in for the injured Buffs, raced 76 yards in the middle of the third and the 21-point quarter outburst ended on Alan Chairez’ 27-yard run late in the period. Ryan Pilosof would put the final points on the board midway through the fourth on a 5-yard run.
The Buffs’ offense piled up 433 yards of offense, all of those coming on the ground. Remarkably, they did it without leading rusher Colin Kleysteuber, who sat out the game with an injury suffered in the win over Hays. Keosengphet got the start in his place, but he too was injured and that left Hill with the task of running the ball by committee with Charite, Zane Burns, Alan Chairez, Ryan Pilosof and Austin Elam carrying the load.
“We’ve just seen this group of kids gain confidence each week with these four wins,” Hill said. “They’ve struggled so much in the past to have good things happen, now it’s just great to see the smiles on their faces, which is priceless.”
Before he left with an injury, Keosengphet had 12 carries for 115 yards and the two touchdowns. For the first time in quite some time, Charite added the century mark rushing stats with 114 yards on just 2 carries. Burns tacked on 90, Wiese 54, Chairez 45, Jerry Arteaga 13 and Elam 4. That totaled 440 yards on 40 attempts for an 11-yard average.
“We’re improving in all phases of the game, but especially we’re doing a better job up front and the runners finding the spaces to run to and run through,” Hill said.
With Wichita East looming, Hill cautions that the Buffs cannot overlook the Blue Aces with their 2-3 mark, which doesn’t really tell the story of their team.
“They’ve got a quarterback who is a dual threat so we’ve got to be able to stop their passing game while at the same time be cognizant of where he is to stop the run,” Hill said. “They always have athletes, so it’s just we have to really focus in and not let them make the big plays.”
WAC notes: The Buffs share the top spot in the WAC with 2-0 marks while Hays is in third at 2-1. Great Bend is 0-2 and Liberal 0-3. In other WAC action in Week 5, it was Dodge City over Great Bend, 31-14; and Hays rolling over Abilene, 64-7. Next week’s WAC action will see Hays travel to Dodge City and Great Bend is on the road to Liberal.
The Buffs will step out of the WAC race this Friday when they travel to Wichita East for a 7 p.m. kickoff that will be played at Wichita Northwest’s field. The Blue Aces will bring a 2-3 season mark into the game, with wins over Wichita Southeast and Wichita West and losses to Hays (6-35), Wichita-Kapaun Mt. Carmel (22-29) and Wichita Northwest (0-56).
Then, the Buffs will finish out the 8-game regular season with a home game against rival Dodge City Oct. 15, in the annual Hatchet Game slugfest before traveling to Great Bend on Oct. 22. The KSHSAA Week 9 Play-In game will be Oct. 29.
Liberal 0; 0; 0; 0; -- 0
Garden City 7; 14; 21; 7; -- 49
GC—Zack Keosengphet 1 run (Issac Rivera kick), 7-0
GC—Keosengphet 1 run (Kick blocked), 13-0
GC—Emmanuel Charite 66 run (Zane Burns run), 21-0
GC—Caleb Wiese 7 run (Rivera kick), 28-0
GC—Zane Burns 76 run (Rivera kick), 35-0
GC—Alan Chairez 27 run (Rivera kick), 42-0
GC—Ryan Pilosof 5 run (Rivera kick), 49-0