Leading up to the Dodge City Community College’s game against Fort Scott on Saturday, head coach Gary Thomas preached to his team they have four Jayhawk Conference championship games.
For the No. 20 Conquistadors to win a second-straight conference crown, they would likely have to win their last four games.
After a 45-35 win over the Greyhounds on Saturday, the Conqs (6-2, 3-1) have three conference championship games left.
"If we didn’t win this one, the next three didn’t matter," Thomas said in a postgame interview following the game. "Now we’ve got a build up going into (the Garden City game). We’re going to play a No. 1 or No. 2 team, it’s homecoming, it’s a rivalry game and mathematically it comes down to the conference championship."
Dodge City got off to its fastest start of the season by jumping out to a 21-0 lead with 6:01 remaining in the first quarter when cornerback Kereon Merrell returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown. It was the first of two non-offensive touchdowns scored by Dodge City on Saturday.
Fort Scott cut the Conqs’ lead to seven points twice but a 29-yard touchdown pass from Caden Walters to Rodney Murphy followed by a 26-yard field goal from Sebastian Mejia put the game to bed in the fourth quarter. Murphy carried the ball 13 times for 41 yards and a touchdown to go along with his touchdown catch.
"Today was a big deal, there was a lot of pressure and I’m proud of the way that the guys responded," Thomas said. "We got some things going offensively, we got a little sloppy defensively but our special teams has been a weapon all year."
The Greyhounds responded with two touchdowns after the Conqs jumped out to a 21-0 lead. Fort Scott quarterback Nathan Rourke scrambled into the end zone from 13 yards out to make it a 21-14 game with 11:45 to play in the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore wide receiver Douglas Butts returned the kick 98 yards for a touchdown.
Saturday’s win cemented a winning record for the 2016 season for Dodge City. The Conqs had not had consecutive winning seasons since 1984-1985.
Dodge City jumped from No. 20 to No. 12 in the most recent NJCAA rankings that were releases on Monday.
Garden City moved from No. 2 to No. 1 and Coffeyville found themselves at No. 17. The Conqs will play No. 1 Garden City this Saturday before hosting No. 17 Coffeyville on Oct. 29.
Dodge City - 21 7 14 3 - 45
Fort Scott - 7 14 7 7 - 35
Dodge, Walters 30 pass to Butts. Mejia kick. 7-0
Dodge, Walker 3 run. Mejia kick. 14-0
Dodge, Merrell 48 interception return. Mejia kick. 21-0
Fort Scott, Hankins 38 run. Southwell kick. 21-7.
Fort Scott, Rourke 13 run. Southwell kick. 21-14.
Dodge, Butts 98 kick return. Mejia kick. 28-14
Fort Scott, Rourke 9 pass to Green. Southwell kick. 28-21
Dodge, Murphy 4 run. Mejia kick. 35-21
Fort Scott, Trotter 18 run. Mejia kick. 35-28
Dodge, Walters 29 pass to Murphy. Mejia kick. 42-28
Dodge, Mejia 26 kick. 45-28
Fort Scott, Rourke 29 pass to Daughtry. Southwell kick. 45-35