Great Bend needed just 14 seconds to take the lead for good Friday night. Even after they kicked-off to begin Homecoming. The Panthers needed just over seven minutes to tack on two more touchdowns, never looking back in a 41-0 win against Wichita North.
“It was kind of just the opposite of what it was last week,” said Great Bend Coach Bo Black. “Our kids came out ready to play. We talked about the importance of not waiting for things to happen and making things happen. I thought the kids played, maybe for the first time all year, all three phases of the game in a physical, emotional manner.”
The Panthers (3-1) kicked-off to open the game, but Leon Williams could not get a handle on the ball and Great Bend recovered the muff. On the first play from scrimmage, Johnny Allende handed off to junior quarterback Bryce Beck, who took the reverse 24 yards for a score just 14 seconds in.
After a North (0-4) three-and-out, the Panthers drove 59 yards on six plays, capped by a three-yard run from senior running back Josh Lopez. Mario Espino’s extra-point gave Great Bend a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest.
After another Redskin three-and-out, Lopez blocked a punt. Just two plays later, senior cornerback Chris Burley had the chance to play some offense, taking a trick play around the left side untouched for a six-yard score and a 21-0 lead with 5:42 to play in the opening quarter.
“Any time you start off 21-0, no matter how it gets there, it’s tough to come back from that,” said North Coach Kelley Sayanejad. “When you turn the football over at the same time, all that momentum goes against you and it’s tough to fight that.”
Early in the third quarter, Beck scored on a keeper from four yards out for a 28-0 lead. Redskin junior fullback Caleb Franklin took the next two carries 29 yards, but the North drive stalled. On its next drive, Great Bend converted a third-and-22 with a 37-yard keeper from Beck. Allende took the next play 31 yards for the score with 3:33 to play in the half. Espino’s kick was blocked but the Panthers still led 34-0.
Great Bend continued to dominate in the second half. Senior Bryce Hoffmeister took the opening kick 54 yards down the Redskin sideline. With the starters pounding away for a final drive, the Panthers went 36 yards on five plays. Allende scored the final touchdown of the night from 13 yards out just 2:28 into the half.
North waited until its final drive to really move the ball. The Redskins took two plays to overcome two holding penalties and a second-and-31, but two plays after picking up a first down, quarterback Zach Beard’s fumble was recovered by Great Bend’s Ryan Clark.
“We took a lot of positives away from tonight,” Sayanejad said. “We felt like we had some drives. At times we did some good things, but again a penalty or a dropped snap, some of those things stalled drives.”
A week after surrending 453 yards, including 276 rushing yards to Garden City quarterback Greyson Tempel in a 45-28 loss last week, the Panther defense allowed just 185 yards all night from North.
“We were disappointed with the way we played last Friday,” Black said. “The kids responded well and had a very good defensive game. They got to the ball, wrapped up and did some really good things.”
Great Bend finished with 268 yards on 42 carries. Beck finished with 92 yards on 11 carries. Lopez and Allende each added 73 yards. Beck completed all three pass tries on the night for 16 yards.
North managed just 104 rushing yards, and 81 passing yards. Franklin and Beard each ran for 35 yards, and Beard completed 5-of-7 passes for all 81 yards, including a perfect 4-for-4 in the second half for 66 yards. Joshua Bryan also saw some time at quarterback, throwing six passes without a completion.