By Mike Pilosof
Listen to the complete game in our archives section
Garden City, KS-After back-to-back heartbreaking losses, the defending national champs have righted the ship.
Charles West ran for a season-best 191 yards and two touchdowns while the defense forced five turnovers for a second straight week, as Garden City held off Coffeyville 41-32 Saturday night at Broncbuster Stadium.
"The hardest thing with young guys in Junior College football is to play with a big lead," Head Coach Jeff Sims said. "But they're learning."
Garden City (4-2, 3-2) consistently moved the ball up and down the field all night, producing a season-high 479 total yards on 88 plays. And just like the week before, the game looked like a runaway early on.
"I thought our offensive line played very well tonight," Sims said. "That's how you judge how good your football team is: how good is the offense and defensive lines."
The Broncbusters built a 19-0 lead thanks to quarterback Terry Wilson and West, who combined for three rushing touchdowns in the first 21 minutes of the game.
First it was Wilson, breaking off a 30-yard scoring run late in the first quarter that put Garden City up 6-0 (they failed on the two-point conversion).
"I judge quarterbacks like I would judge a pitcher: it's all about wins and losses," Sims said. "That being said, Terry has put us in position to win games."
Following a Coffeyville punt early in the second quarter, the Broncbusters drove 80 yards in four plays, the final 69 coming on the legs of West, who split two defenders and galloped to the end zone for a 13-0 lead.
"We ran the football very well tonight," Sims said. "And that starts up front. But the final result is all that anyone cares about."
West was far from finished.
After the Broncbusters got the ball back when Kahe Kaaiawaawa stripped Red Ravens quarterback Aloysius Jackson and recovered it at the Coffeyville (1-5, 1-3) 19, it was West again, slicing his way for a 19-yard touchdown run that gave the brown and gold what appeared to be a commanding 19-0 advantage with 12:32 left in the first half.
"We have to put teams away," Sims said. "Last year's team would have stomped on you with a big lead. This year, we're still learning how to win games like that."
Coffeyville did not blink.
Led by Interim Coach Jeff Leiker, who turned the Broncbusters into a power in the early 1990's, the Red Ravens changed gears, going to an inside-zone running attack and finding success the next time they had the ball.
Coffeyville drove 57 yards in 10 plays, 45 of those coming on the ground as they set up shop at the Garden City 9. Then, on third-and-3, Jackson went to the air, hitting Errol Breaux in the back-left corner of the end zone for a touchdown, cutting the Broncbuster lead to 19-7 with 8:48 left in the first half.
A few minutes later, Garden City giftwrapped another scoring opportunity to the Red Ravens when Wilson was intercepted on a screen pass by Fanon Vines at the Coffeyville 31. After Jackson hit Dominic Stampley for 22 yards down to the 9, the drive stalled, and Triston Bailey drilled a 27-yard field goal that pulled the Red Ravens to within nine.
"We should have put them away in the first half," Sims said.
Garden City responded emphatically on their next drive, using a hurry-up offense that stymied the Red Ravens defensive front. On third-and-11 at their own 24, Wilson zipped a pass to Remi Simmons for 14 yards. A couple of plays later, Wilson hit tight end Nigel Kilby for 25 yards before floating a perfect back-shoulder throw to Charles West up the left sideline for 25 more and a touchdown that pushed the lead to 25-10 (James White missed the extra point) with 3:57 left in the half.
"Terry made some great throws," Sims said. "Our offense responded when we had to."
Then the most unusual play of the season, something that had Sims perplexed even 30 minutes following the game.
The Broncbusters tried to catch the Red Ravens off guard with an onside kick. However, the ball rolled right to Myles Corpening, who scooped it up, and raced untouched down the middle of the field for a 50-yard touchdown.
"That's something you don't see every day," Sims said while cracking a smile. "I'll know more when I go back and look at the film. But I'm going to assume that the guy that picked up the ball was supposed to be blocked. We didn't block him-obviously."
The score made it an eight-point contest, which was then compounded when Wilson was picked off in the end zone with 1:15 to go in the half, leaving the door open for Coffeyville to try and tie the game.
"There were plays where we just weren't very smart," Sims said.
The Red Ravens quickly moved down field, thanks to Jackson's 39-yard hookup with Juwan Ruffin that put the ball at the Broncbuster 25. But Coffeyville gained only a yard on the next three plays before Bailey pushed a 41-yard field goal wide left as time expired.
"We dodge a bullet at the end of the first half," Sims said. "But we can't put ourselves in that situation."
Early in the third, Garden City took advantage of a short, Cooper Lee punt. It only took them two plays, and Daniel Davis scooped up a low screen pass to the left and raced 25 yards to the end zone for a touchdown, extending the lead to 32-17.
"I just tried to make a play," Davis said. "And we needed that."
The Broncbusters continued to pour it on when Coffeyville go the ball back. Jackson forced a pass down the middle that was picked off by Deric Rucker, who returned it 26 yards to the Coffeyville 19. After failing on third down, James White knocked in a 30-yard field goal that gave Garden City an 18-point advantage with 9:20 to go in the third.
But as they did in the first half, Coffeyville did not go away.
Jackson engineered an eight-play, 64-yard drive, and capped it with his legs, scrambling for a nine-yard touchdown that pulled the Red Ravens to within 35-24 with 10:42 remaining.
Then things got really interesting.
On Garden City's next possession, linebacker Vernon Dasher picked off Wilson, and returned it 20 yards to the end zone before Jackson ran in the two-point conversion, cutting the once 18-point deficit down to the three with 10:30 to go.
"We needed to check ourselves at that point," Davis said.
How did Garden City respond? With a season-saving, 17-play drive that took nearly 8:00. On the march, the Broncbusters converted four third downs including a big third-and-4 at the Coffeyville 8 when Wilson ran for five. On the very next play, one-time Auburn commit Alaric Williams bullied in from three yards out, putting the proverbial nail, in Coffeyville's coffin.
"That was exactly what we needed," Sims said. "But it really should never have come down to that."
Wilson completed 18-of-34 passes for 204 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions for Garden City, who won their second straight game over Coffeyville. He ran it 14 times for 41 yards and a score while Davis caught six balls for 45 and a touchdown. Holcomb-native Dillon Williams led the way with nine tackles.
Jackson, who was the Red Ravens fifth different starting quarterback this season, was 12-of-27, for 156 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He totaled 60 yards on the ground, and Derrick Wiggins had four catches for 47.
Notes: Coffeyville still leads the all-time series 49-28-1…Garden City has won 15 straight games when leading after three quarters…West averaged 7.3 yards per rush, and Garden City ran for a season-best 275 yards, the most in game since going for 303 in their regular-season finale last season vs. Fort Scott...Garden City was 9-of-19 on third down…The Broncbusters entered the game having been outscored 27-7 in the second quarter this season-on Saturday they bested the Red Ravens 19-17 in the second…There were eight combined fumbles in the game…Garden City owned time of possession 36:27 to 23:33...After forcing just eight turnovers in their first four games, Garden City has 10 takeaways in their last two…Dasher's pick 6 was Coffeyville's sixth defensive touchdown of the season
Next up: Garden City vs. No. 3 Iowa Western-Saturday, Oct. 14-12:30 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. kick on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app