Penalties were the story on Thursday night, as No. 15 Dodge City fell to Highland, 26-21. The Scotties were receiving votes in the most recent NJCAA poll.
Both teams combined for a total of 17 penalties for a total of 203 yards. The Conqs were able to collect 22 first downs while holding Highland to just 12, but too many mistakes became crucial in the loss.
"Our defense is so specific in gap control," head coach Gary Thomas said. "If we get one guy that is out of his gap, against their defense it is an 11-yard gain. Against ours, it is a 70-yard touchdown. The drive that they kicked the field goal, we had them off the field three different times and we get a roughing the passer, we picked the ball off on the next one but get a facemask. They didn’t do anything on that drive except collect the penalties that we had."
Tyler Minor led the way for the Conqs on the ground, getting 12 carries and collecting 51 yards on the day. Aaron Walker and Caden Walters also collected 38 and 35 rush yards respectively.
Walters also went 18-for-35 throwing the football, collecting 148 yards and three touchdowns. Braxton Haley led the way for receivers, catching five passes for 41 yards and one touchdown.
"Offensively, I think we are going to be pretty good," Thomas said. "We were second and 20, third and 20 at least five times today and you are not going to win many football games doing that. Last year we lost, then we ripped off five straight. I think the way our schedule is set up, we have a chance to be pretty good. I still think we are a good football team, we just have a lot of learning to do. We have nine days to get healthy and kind of get things figured out."
After holding Highland to a three-and-out on its first drive, the Conquistadors marched down the field and scored a touchdown, making the score, 6-0 after the extra point was blocked.
After recovering a fumble close to midfield, DC3 was able to put together another drive scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Minor from Caden Walters. The Conqs were then unable to score on a two-point conversion, taking a 12-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, Highland broke off a 66-yard run from Kevin Brown to cut the lead to 12-7 with 2:11left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, both defenses stood strong, with only one score coming from a 30-yard field goal for the Scotties, cutting the lead to 12-10.
Dodge City got the ball to start the second half and drove down the field, but the drive stalled and the Conqs were forced to kick a 24-yard field goal and push the lead back to five, 15-10.
Following the field goal by the Conqs, the Scotties’ offense took the field for the first time in the second half, scoring a touchdown on a 62 yard pass from Kyle Kearns to Ronnie Jamison to give Highland its first lead of the game, 16-15 after the extra point was blocked. The Scotties were able to add a field goal late in the third quarter to extend their lead to 19-15.
Then on Highland's first drive of the fourth quarter, the Scotties drove 55 yards to score their third touchdown of the game on an eight yard pass from Kyle Kearns to Eriquan Price and extend the lead to 26-15.
With 1:28 left in the game, the Conquistadors were able to score a touchdown on a five yard pass from Caden Walters to Jerry Hanks but were unable to score on the two-point conversion leaving the score at 26-21.
The Conqs lined up for an onside kick, but were unable to recover, giving the ball to the Scotties with 1:28 left in the game. After kneeling three times, Highland was able to run out the clock, collecting their first win of the season, 26-21.
Dodge City is now 0-1 overall and 0-1 in KJCCC play. The Conqs will be in action again next Saturday as they travel to Iowa Central Community College at 11 a.m.