The Conquistador football team looked for three quarters like they were going to get back on the winning track and break a two game losing streak on Saturday.
Unfortunately the fourth quarter was disastrous for the Conqs as they gave up 26 points in the final quarter to fall to Highland 40-26.
The game could not have gotten off to a much better start for Dodge City. Highland chose to receive the opening kickoff, but on the first play from scrimmage they took a shot deep down the field and it was intercepted by Darius Miller. Miller returned the ball all the way to the Highland 20-yard line and the Conqs were taking their first offensive snap already in the red zone.
After only gaining four yards on the first three plays, the Conqs took a timeout and chose to go for it on fourth and six. Drew Harris connected with Kyle Jones to advance the Conqs down inside the Highland 10-yard line. Eventually Anthony Watkins would finish off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. That coupled with Devonta Guillory's first PAT of the day would put the Conqs up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Highland had a quick answer for the Dodge City drive. They received the second kickoff of the game and used a two-headed running monster of Kevin Brown and Justin Ruiz to march back down the field. Ruiz finished the drive off with a 25-yard touchdown run to pull within 6-7. Ryan Schemtob missed the extra point, but the Conqs were called for running into the kicker giving Schemtob the opportunity to tie the score at seven. The Conqs quickly were back into Scottie territory as Daquan Bailey Brown took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 50 yards to the Highland 45.
The Conq offense could not get going at that point and turned it over on downs at the Scottie 38. The next three drives all ended with very little offense and punts, two by Highland and one by Dodge City. After that the Conq offense seemed to find some footing in the second quarter. John Lux came in at quarterback and drove the team inside the Highland 10 yard line. Facing second and goal from the six yard line, Lux threw an interception at the goal line that stopped the Conqs scoring opportunity. Highland was able to put together another strong drive, but a 52-yard field goal try by Schemtob was wide right and gave Dodge City the ball back at their own 35-yard line. The Conqs once again were forced to punt after three plays and gave the Scotties the ball back at their own 22-yard line.
The Scotties then quickly marched down the field as they moved 78 yards in just over two minutes. They capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to put the Scotties up 14-7. The Conqs were up to the task as well. They received the ball with just over two minutes remaining in the half and quickly moved the ball down the field themselves. Their drive was finished when Guillory kicked a 22-yard field goal with one second left in the half. That field goal sent the game to halftime with the Conqs trailing 10-14.
The third quarter was dominated by the Dodge City offense. They took the opening kickoff of the second half and were methodical with their approach. They put together one of the most impressive drives of the season to open the half. They moved the ball 71 yards on 16 plays and used up over nine minutes of the game clock. They got a one yard touchdown run from Harris to cap the drive and take a 17-14 lead. The Conq defense looked like they were ready to match the offense on the next Highland drive. They forced a three and out to give the ball back to the Conqs. The offense once again looked like it was going to be methodical driving the ball down the field using a solid running game and short passing. Watkins then turned in his biggest play of the day as took a handoff on third and two and broke it 63 yards to the end zone and the Conqs had a 24-14 lead after the Guillory PAT.
The fourth quarter took on a much different look for the Conqs. Highland had the ball to start the quarter and had a critical play just 34 seconds into the fourth quarter. Facing fourth and four, the Scotties were able to convert with a 15 yard pass play. They immediately capitalized on the conversion and connected for a 20 yard touchdown pass to Tra Parker on the next play. That brought the Scotties back to within striking distance at 24-21 in favor of the Conqs. Dodge City seemed unfazed by the Scottie score when they got the ball back. They got the ball back at their own 38 yard line and on second down Harris broke a 44-yard run to put the Conqs deep in Highland territory again. They used a steady rushing attack from Justin Theriot to take the ball inside the 10-yard line. Facing second and goal from the 6-yard line, Harris dropped to pass and had Tyrice Richie open on the play. Unfortunately Highland linebacker Reco Hannah read the route and intercepted Harris's pass at the goal line. He took the return the length of the field giving Highland a 28-24 lead.
After a three and out from the Conq offense, Ruiz once again got back in on the action. He took a handoff on the first play and raced 57 yards to the end zone. After Schemtob missed the extra point, the Scotties led 34-24. The Conq offense appeared to find their rhythm again on the next drive. They received the ball at their own 39 and after a third and 19 conversion on a pass from Harris to Bailey Brown, then a Highland holding penalty the Conqs had the ball inside the Scottie 30-yard line. Disaster struck again at that point when on third and 10 Harris was sacked and fumbled the ball with Highland recovering. The Scotties went back to the ground game this time on the strength of Brown and eventually got a 17-yard touchdown run from him with just 2:34 remaining. The Conqs blocked the extra point and Jermell Brandon picked up the ball and raced to the other end zone to give Dodge City two points and make the game 40-26. The Conq offense quickly moved the ensuing drive down the field and got a touchdown pass from Harris to Richie with 47 second remaining in the game. That score made the count 40-33 in favor of Highland. The Conqs attempted an onside kick, but Highland was able to cover the kick and ran out the clock.
The loss takes the Conqs overall record to 3-6 on the year. They will be off this week before returning to action the final week of the season when they travel to Fort Scott Community College. Kickoff for that game will be at 11 a.m. on Nov. 10.