Photos by Adam Shrimplin
By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-For five games, Garden City watched their opponents stack the box, daring them to throw the ball. But as most people know, be careful what you wish for.
Quarterback David Moore threw for 200 yards, Dedrick Mills topped the century mark on the ground for the fourth straight game, and No. 3 Garden City improved to 6-0 with a 44-14 rout of Iowa Central on Saturday afternoon at Broncbuster Stadium.
"The players and the assistant coaches deserve all the credit," Head Coach Jeff Sims said. "I'm lucky to be around these type of dudes."
Garden City entered play Saturday as the No. 1 rushing team in the nation. That in itself, opened the airwaves, with Moore completing his first eight passes. He finished 12-of-17 for 200 yards.
"If you watch most of our completions, the guys are wide open," Sims said. "A big reason for that, is the threat of our run game. Linebackers are caught in the middle."
On the Broncbusters' opening drive, that running game was on full display. Mills 29-yard rumble on the second play from scrimmage had the Tritons' defense backpedaling all the way. Then on first-and-10 from the Iowa Central 29, Moore dropped a dime to Charles West, who wiggled up the sidelines for 28 yards to the 1. Three plays later, the sophomore signal caller ran it in himself, giving Garden City a 7-0 edge with 11:02 left in the first.
"I thought the players did a great job finishing in this game," Sims said. "It's really easy to let up when you build a lead. We didn't do that today."
Before they built that cushion, the Broncbusters needed to adjust on defense. The tritons marched 75 yards from their own 24 to the Garden City 1. But on fourth-and-goal, linebacker Willie Hampton batted down Blake Dever's pass at the line of scrimmage, giving the ball back to Garden City. For first-year Iowa Central Coach Jesse Montalto, it was a demoralizing missed opportunity, one that haunted the Tritons for the rest of the afternoon.
The Broncbusters responded by driving 99 yards in 10 plays, spearheaded by Moore's 19-yard completion to Brian Boyd and Mills 24-yard run that put Garden City in the red zone. On second-and-8 from the 13, West took the wildcat snap and sprinted 13 yards to the end zone. Nick Bohn followed with a perfect touch pass to Keandre Bledsoe for the two-point conversion, and the Broncbusters had a 15-0 advantage.
"The reason I want these guys to win a championship is because I want them to realize that hard work does pay off," Sims said. "There's a reward at the end of the day if you outwork people."
Early in the second period, Garden City extended their lead. Moore found Boyd again, this time streaking down the left sideline for 49. But the play came at a cost as the sophomore wide receiver was lost for the game with an ankle injury.
"We think everyone will be okay," Sims said afterwards. "We had a couple of ankle injuries today. The bye couldn't have come at a better time."
On the next play following Boyd's long reception, West sprinted towards the left boundary; got a block from Mills, and high stepped 20 yards to the house for a 22-0 lead.
"It's really fun to watch Dedrick and Charles work," offensive lineman Bamidele Olaseni said. "Just watching them go into the end zone clean and untouched is a sight to see."
After holding their opponent in check for most of the first half, Iowa Central (2-4) finally broke through late in the second quarter. Backup quarterback Justin Blake, who relieved Dever after he was knocked out of the contest with a head injury, capped off a 74-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run where he beat Dillon Williams to the pylon.
"They got us a couple of times, but our defense has been really good," Sims said. "They're making plays, and they're hitting people."
Every time the Tritons thought they stole some momentum, Garden City clapped back. On the Bronbusters next possession, Moore found his old University of Memphis buddy Jahod Booker for a 37-yard gain to the Iowa Central 17. Five plays later, Mills was back in the end zone, this time from three yards out, giving the home squad a 28-7 halftime edge (Ben Raybon missed the extra point).
"Coach Sims will tell you that we shouldn't be tired at all during the game," Olaseni said. "We put in the work, and we try to wear teams down."
Iowa Central made things interesting on their first possession of the third quarter. Rashad Witty's 55-yard kick return eventually setup Blake's eight-yard scoring toss that sliced Garden City's lead to 28-14.
That was the only drama the rest of the way.
Mills added his second rushing touchdown of the game a few minutes later, polishing off a five-play, 69-yard march that saw the Nebraska commit carry the ball three times for 27 yards, the final 16 of that went to the house, putting the Broncbusters up 35-14 with 11:25 to go in the third.
But the play of the game took place on special teams, an area that really excelled in a 40-point rout of Fort Scott seven days earlier.
Iowa Central was punting from deep in their own end when Josh Mercer knifed through and blocked the kick. Rennard Bozeman jumped on top of it in the back of the end zone, and Garden City had a 27-point edge.
"The most satisfying thing about where we are is that we are 6-0, we've gone through a difficult stretch, and now we can go heal," Sims said.
Raybon put a bow on the scoring with a 37-yard field goal, giving the Broncbusters a 30-point lead with 3:22 left in the game.
West finished with 16 carries for 79 yards and two scores, ending a streak of five straight 100-yard rushing games. Boyd caught three balls for 72, and Booker had three grabs for 56. Joe Jay Smith paced the Garden City defense with 11 tackles.
Blake was 11-of-22 for 134 yards and a touchdown for Iowa Central, who dropped to 0-5 lifetime vs. the Broncbusters. Witty caught six balls for 63 and a score.
Notes: Garden City has won 10 out of their last 11 games dating back to last season…The Broncbusters won the time of possession battle for the fifth straight week (31:16-28:44)…Garden City has still yet to allow a point in the fourth quarter all season…They've now outscored Iowa Central 116-14 in their last three meetings
Next up: Garden City vs. Highland-Saturday, Oct. 20-12:30 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. kick on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app