Dodge City sophomore Bernabe Rincon probably has never heard of the "fumbleruski" play of football, but he showed that he knew how to perform it correctly.
Even if it was by accident.
Running back Parker Davis fumbled the ball before reaching the end zone and Rincon fell on it and was able to get into the end zone for what proved to be the winning points as the Red Demons beat the Garden City Buffaloes 24-20 at Memorial Stadium to earn the Hatchet in its 75th contest and an improbable playoff berth into the Class 6A state tournament.
"I was just glad the coaches gave me the chance to play," Rincon said. "I didn't expect coming to playing as much time as I did. I'm just happy I fell on that ball and I held on for dear life."
The Demons needed to get every key break in the game to secure the Hatchet and earn the playoff spot. Dodge City had to beat Garden City by four points and Hutchinson to win by 13 points or more over Maize.
"We just had a big practice," said quarterback Kelan Newton. "We're like a big family and we wanted to get together. We wanted the season to go on. It was definitely what we wanted."
All indications by the DCHS athletic department is that the Red Demons will travel to Manhattan for a rematch of last year's bi-district matchup.
The seniors didn't want to go out with a five-game losing streak and picked themselves up after the 54-51 loss at Maize last week.
"We knew how much the Hatchet meant to us and we wanted it back," said senior Jordan Doan, who caused a fumble that eventually led to a Davis rushing touchdown in the opening quarter. "We worked hard this whole week because, as a senior class, we had been struggling these past few weeks. We just wanted to win this game by four and keep going."
The Demons wanted to get greedy this final week as just winning the Hatchet was going to be enough for the squad, even after the bitter taste they felt in their mouths after losing the prized possession to the Buffaloes last year in double overtime.
"All of us seniors knew this could be the last week for us," Davis said. "We came out here and wanted to be focused and we wanted to play as hqard as we can. We've been playing with the same kids since third grade and this could be their last game. We wanted to play for them."
Rincon's score gave the Red Demons 17 points in the quarter as they started to push ahead. The Demons had momentum the rest of the way, even after the Buffaloes (5-4, 1-2) scored late in the fourth quarter to keep the score at 24-20.
Page 2 of 2 - Why? Because the ball didn't reach the line of scrimmage on the extra point as it was shanked by the Buffaloes' kicker.
"I can't tell you how blessed we are," Davis said. "Four points is what we needed to go to the playoffs. We won the Hatchet and we're going to the playoffs."
Another player who came up with big plays was junior receiver Immanuel Galloway. Galloway set up a field goal and also scored on another of those unusual plays when he got across the line and grabbed the mis-snap of Garden City center Mitch Morris up in the air with the Buffaloes were in a shotgun formation and went untouched for a 78-yard interception of a snap to push the Demons ahead.
"I just wanted to win," Galloway said. "We had to bring it home for the seniors and we wanted to win at home. I just thought that I had to get this and score on this. This could be a game changer and I was surprised. All I was thinking was 'I'm getting this.'"