By Mike Pilosof
Photos by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-One thing is for certain: these are not your grandfather's Coffeyville Red Ravens.
A program that once dominated the Jayhawk Conference, was thoroughly embarrassed on Saturday. Nate Cox became the first Broncbuster quarterback since Terry Wilson in the 2017 Heart of Texas Bowl to throw for 300 yards in a game, Jadon Hayes and Ramon Jefferson each reached the end zone twice, and No. 7 Garden City powered past Coffeyville 58-14 at Broncbuster Stadium.
"We thought we could get some bombs over the top on them," Head Coach Tom Minnick said afterwards. "We wanted to make sure people saw us throwing."
Cox, who was brilliant for most of the day, minus a second-quarter interception, came out firing, hitting on his first four passes. In fact, the Broncbusters first play was a 53-yard bomb to MJ Link where the sophomore quarterback got both the linebackers and the safeties to bite on a picture-perfect play-action fake. Three plays after that, Jefferson blasted into the end zone from a yard out, and Garden City had a 7-0 lead with 11:03 to play in the first.
"We haven't done a great job with those deep passes all year," Minnick said. "I'm glad we finally completed some over the top because if we continue to do that, we will be hard to beat."
With the entire Hutchinson coaching staff in attendance, Garden City displayed their most balanced attack of the season. They ran it 43 times for 311 yards and threw it 20 times for 302.
"We know we can run the ball," Minnick said. "And we know we can pass it. We just haven't really shown it like we did today."
On the other sideline, Coffeyville mustered very little. Their offense looked like your dad's old, beat-up Chevy, the one that had 200,000 miles on it and was on it's second transmission. Think that's an overstatement? Consider this: the Red Ravens managed just 32 total yards in the first half and 156 for the game. Their offensive line surrendered six sacks, and they averaged an anemic 2.4 yards per play.
"Our defense has been on a roll for some time now," Minnick said. "The last few games, Coach Dominguez has our guys flying all over the place."
The Broncbusters meantime looked like a machine in the first quarter, scoring on their first three possessions; the second of which came following Willie Ervin's fourth blocked punt of the season that gave Garden City the ball at the Red Ravens' 30. The Broncbusters then converted a fourth-and-4 when Cox hit Kevaughn Dingle for nine yards, and a third-and-11 when he fired a strike to Link for 13. That was followed up with a jet sweep by Troy'Von Johnson, who turned the corner running right for a three-yard touchdown giving the brown and gold a 14-0 advantage with 4:29 remaining in the first.
"People think that we can't throw," Minnick explained. "But we were just waiting for the right situation. Today was the right situation."
On their third possession of the game, Garden City used a perfect combination of run and pass to reach pay dirt. Cox zipped one ball to Ellis Merriweather for 14 yards. He then threw a dart to Link for 11 that moved the Broncbusters down to the Coffeyville 22. Moments later, Hayes found a crease and ran untouched to the end zone for a 21-0 cushion.
"I know our guys had Hutch on their mind," Minnick said. "So it's good to get this one out of the way. Our guys are really fired up."
With the Red Ravens struggling to do anything offensively, Garden City extended their lead later in the second period. Jefferson ripped off a 73-yard run that eventually setup Andre Dos Santos Aires' 25-yard field goal that made it 24-0.
"That's one we would like to have back," Minnick said. "We got on Nate a little bit because he could of scored down there on third down."
Missed opportunity aside, Garden City thoroughly dominated the first half, outgaining Coffeyville 284-32.
Then in the third, offensive coordinator Mike Orthmann unleased a vertical passing attack that had somewhat been missing from Garden City's repertoire.
On the Broncbusters second offensive series, Cox floated a beautiful pass down the middle for Link, who burned past Nate Shields for a 45-yard touchdown. A couple of minutes later, Cox went back to the air, this time hooking up with Johnson on a 66-yard missile that made it 37-0 (Christian Gomez blocked Dos Santos Aires' extra point) with 10:11 to go in the quarter.
"A big thing for us today was just to make sure that we read our keys," defensive lineman Ryan McClain said. "Coffeyville ran a similar-type offense to Independence."
The only dark cloud that hung over the Broncbusters in the second half was not holding onto the shutout. That ended when Red Ravens' backup quarterback Edwin Kleinpeter, who replaced Cam Smith early in the first half, found Tyquez Hampton all alone for a 33-yard touchdown. Kleinpeter added another scoring toss later in the third when he hit Challen Faamautau on a wheel route up the right sideline for 17 yards.
Garden City turned off that leaky faucet after that.
The Broncbusters countered with Hayes' one-yard touchdown run that was setup by Cox's 53-yard completion to Aamir Holmes. Then in the fourth quarter, Jefferson capped off a five-play, 70-yard march, that included a 39-yard run by Cox, with a four-yard dash to the end zone to make it 51-14. They capped the scoring in the final minute when Merriweather broke loose for a 56-yard touchdown, putting an exclamation mark on one of the most dominating wins of the season
Garden City once again owned the clock, holding the ball for nearly 33 minutes while totaling 613 yards. Link caught four balls for 122 and a touchdown, while Holmes came in off the bench to haul in four for 79. Merriweather led the way with 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Kleinpeter finished 11-of-26 for 124 yards and two touchdowns for Coffeyville, who lost to Garden City for the fourth straight time. Marco Lee ran it 11 times for 17, and Tyquez Hampton caught three passes for 49.
"Our motto is to treat every game like it's the National Championship Game," McClain said. "This is college football, and all these teams are good. So we just need to prepare for this next game like we normally do."
Next up: Garden City vs. Hutchinson-Saturday, Nov. 2-12:30 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. kick on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app