The Dodge City Conquistadors football team came out and made sure they were a different squad from the one that opened the season with a 60-point loss to the Butler Grizzlies.
The Conqs held the defending national runner-ups scoreless in the first half, but couldn't keep the momentum as the Grizzlies beat Dodge City 41-6 in the Jayhawk Conference for both teams at BG Products Veterans Coliseum.
Butler couldn't establish much of an offensive statement as the Conqs' defense bent, but didn't break in the first half.
The Grizzlies didn't help themselves as they uncharacteristically couldn't score as they closed on the goal line. Butler missed two field goals that were less than 35 yards out and had a third field goal attempt muffed and the Conqs defense knocked the attempted pass into the end zone to the ground to keep the game scoreless going into halftime. Two of the attempts were made after Dodge City punter Steve Knocke shanked punts for 12 and nine yards after kicking two punts for more than 60 yards in the first quarter.
"People talked about well the Butler offensive line was and I think we showed in the first half that we have a good defensive line," Thomas said.
The Conqs' offense wasn't as successful with only had 44 total yards and had only four first downs in the first half.
"Our quarterbacks and offensive line are nervous and we need them to calm down in the second half," Thomas said.
The Conqs opened the second half with what would have been good field position on the opening kick, but an unsportsmanlike conduct negated the start near midfield. Dodge City wasn't able to move the ball much and Steve Knocke shanked his third punt of the game.
Butler was able to finally capitalize on the Conqs' mistake, but only with a 29-yard field goal by Robert Rawlings for a 3-0 lead as the Conqs' defense again shut down the Grizzlies' offense.
The Grizzlies got the ball again in Dodge City territory after a fumble in punt formation put the ball on the Conqs' 22. Butler lined up for another field goal before an offside penalty by the Conqs changed the Grizzlies' decision and go for the touchdown. Steven Walker received the two-yard pass from Ty Suggs on the running back option for a 10-0 lead.
Dodge City got on the scoreboard with its next possession when receiver William French caught a 33-yard pass from Deondre Ford for a touchdown late in the third quarter. The extra point hit the upright and didn't go through to keep the score 10-6.
Butler extended the lead to 17-6 on a three-yard touchdown run by Chris Carson and Rawlings kicked a 20-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to make the score 20-6.
Page 2 of 2 - The Grizzlies took the game completely with three scores after turnovers by Dodge City in a four-minute stretch in the final stanza. An interception thrown by Ford led to a one-yard run by Hunter Vaughn and a Ford fumble on the next drive led a one-yard run by Miles Thomas made it 34-6 with 8:38 left in the game. The final score came when Jamone Boyd picked up a fumble and taken five yards for a third score with less then six minutes remaining.
Ford finished 13-of-21 for 113 yards, one touchdown and one interception to lead the Conqs' offense. The Conqs recorded 13 first downs and 178 total yards (57 rushing), but never officially got the ball into the red zone.
Butler had almost 300 yards in total offense in the second half as they again showed their ability to score quickly and often. The Grizzlies got the ball inside the Conqs' 20-yard line 10 times during the game.
Quarterback Hunter Vaughn was 14-of-23 for 201 yards (with former Dodge City High standout Trey Hallman leading the Grizzlies in receiving with four for 51 yards).
The Conqs host No. 7 Navarro in the final annual KJCCC-SWJCCC showdown between the two conference next Saturday. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.