By John Curtis

Dodge City Daily Globe

Running back Dominique Carson had put the Dodge City Law offense and special teams on his back during their regular season final game Saturday night against the Sioux City Bandits at United Wireless Arena.

But despite having one of the best games of his career for the Law, it was his fumble on a kickoff with just over a minute of play that ended up being the final nail in the coffin for the squad’s 2015 season in a 53-52 loss to the Bandits.

Carson ran for 106 yards and four touchdowns on just 11 carries and also earned 127 yards in kickoff returns to set up a number of scoring drives for the Law (7-5), but all he could think about after the game was fumbling the ball the last time he touched the ball for the team this season.

“It’s the last play and you want the ball in your hands so you can finish it; and I didn’t finish it today,” Carson said. “I just have to work hard and push somewhere else. We had one game and we didn’t capitalize. Nothing we can do except to move forward and, hopefully, everything stays together.”

Quarterback Joshua Floyd didn’t have the best of games in the ‘win or go home’ contest. Floyd was 9-of-23 for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Floyd completed only two passes in the second half (both on the second drive of the third quarter) and a costly interception late in the fourth set up the winning drive for Sioux City (9-3). Floyd also 46 yards on nine carries, but didn’t score a rushing touchdown.

Floyd said he really didn’t know what to say about the abrupt end of the season for the Law, but also discussed a lack of discipline ultimately was the downfall for the team that lost four of its last five contests. The Law was penalized 13 times for 101 yards and also turned the ball over three times in the second half.

“We’ve been through it where it comes down to the end, but we had several opportunities to execute and get plays done,” Floyd said. “It’s not the way we wanted to go out, especially after we started the way we did, but we just have to be disciplined. Penalties hurt us in the long run and it came back to bite us. Some of the games we lost were just because of penalties.”

The Bandits were led by running back John Bentley with a four-touchdown (all from a yard out) and 84-yard effort, while Charles Dowdell completed only seven passes for 99 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

The game was a see-saw battle with neither team having more than an eight-point lead in the contest.

Carson opened up the game with a 36-yard touchdown run on the Law’s first play from scrimmage, but the Bandits answered with Bentley’s first score to tie the game. Dodge City took the lead again after Carson went 38 yards on the ensuing kickoff, then scored his second touchdown from eight yards out for a 14-7 lead.

A 46-yard field goal by Max Martin for the Bandits was answered with a 52-yard field goal by the Law’s Alex Fambrough – his first field goal of the season – to end the opening quarter.

Sioux City tied the game early in the second quarter when Dowdell hit Damon Mothershead for a 14-yard scoring pass; which was answered by a pass from Floyd to KingJack Washington for eight yards and another touchdown for the Law.

The two teams traded touchdowns later in the stanza as a four-yard run by Willie Downs for Sioux City was answered on Dodge City’s next offensive play on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Floyd to Maurice Young (Fambrough missed the extra point attempt). Sioux City took the lead late in the period on another Bennett touchdown for a 31-30 lead.

The Law had a chance to go into the locker room with a lead on its final drive, but elected to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal with two seconds left. The attempt wasn’t successful and Dodge City went into halftime trailing.

Bennett’s third rushing score opened up the second half of play before Carson collected all 25 yards of offense in Dodge City’s first drive – capped by a one-yard run – to put Dodge City back a point behind at 38-37.

The Law was successful in recovering an onside kick after the touchdown, but receiver Dello Davis fumbled what would have been a first down in the final minute of the period.

The Bandits got Bennett’s final rushing touchdown to open up the fourth for a 45-37 lead before the Law was able to take control of the contest.

Carson’s fourth score of the game from six yards out and his subsequent two-point conversion tied the game with 13:03 left; then an interception of Dowdell by defensive back Dwayne Autry set up a four-yard run by Washington to give Dodge City the lead with 9:11 left in regulation.

The Law looked to have secured the game with another defensive stand deep into Bandit territory; but a Floyd pass was tipped up by receiver Zach McClain and intercepted by Rahn Franklin at the Sioux City 13. The Bandits went down the field with a two-yard scoring run by Fredrick Bruno. Sioux City then took the lead on the two-point conversion as Dowdell ran into the end zone off of an extra-point formation.

Carson took the final kickoff down the middle and looked to have an opening, but was tackled and lost the ball at the Dodge City 13. The Bandits recovered the ball and ran out the clock to complete a seven-game win streak and regular season champions.

BANDITS 53, LAW 52

Sioux City    10  21  7  15 – 53

Dodge City   17  13  7  15 -- 52

D – Carson 36 run (Fambrough kick)

S – Bentley 1 run (Martin kick)

D – Carson 8 run (Fambrough kick)

S – FG Martin 46

D – FG Fambrough 52

S – Mothershead 14 pass from Dowdell (15 kick)

D – Washington 2 pass from Floyd (Fambrough kick)

S – Downs 3 run (Martin kick)

D – Young 22 pass from Floyd (kick failed)

S – Bentley 1 run (Martin kick)

S – Bentley 1 run (Martin kick)

D – Carson 1 run (Fambrough kick)

S – Bentley 1 run (Martin kick)

D – Carson 6 run (Carson run)

D – Washington 4 run (Fambrough kick)

S – Bruno 2 run (Dowdell run)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING – Sioux City, Bentley 24-84, Downs 5-18, Bruno 4-12, Mothershead 1-10, Dowdell 4-5; Dodge City, Carson 11-106, Floyd 9-46, Washington 4-14.

PASSING – Sioux City, Dowdell 7-18-2-99; Dodge City, Floyd 9-23-1-109.

RECEIVING – Sioux City, Downs 5-62, Mothershead 2-37; Dodge City, Davis 4-53, Young 1-22, Seard 1-15, McClain 1-13, Washington 1-2, Carson 1-(minus 2).

CIF FINAL STANDINGS

Sioux City 9-3

Texas 8-4

Wichita 8-4

Amarillo 7-5

Dodge City 7-5

Salina 6-5

Duke City 4-4

San Angelo 1-10

Omaha 1-11

CIF PLAYOFFS

(4) Amarillo at (1) Sioux City, Saturday

(3) Wichita at (2) Texas, Thursday