DCCC Football: Conqs Run Out of Gas in Upset Bid of Rival Garden City

Joe Penno
DCCC Sports Information Director
Dodge City Community College quarterback Rashad McKee, left, avoids an attempted sack by Garden City's Raymond Cutts to keep a play alive Saturday at Broncbuster Stadium in Garden City. The Conquistadors fell in the rivalry game to the Broncbusters, 34-24.

The Dodge City Conquistadors traveled to Garden City to take on archrival Garden City Community College. The Conquistadors held a fourth quarter lead, but gave up two big plays late before falling 34-24 to the 6th ranked team in the country.

"I'm super proud of the effort and intensity that our team played with," said head coach Ricky Coon. "Offensively, we were able to put some drives together and get explosive play touchdowns. However, we were 2/16 on 3rd and 4th down and we were 1-4 in the red zone. Defensively, after the first drive we played well until the 4th quarter. Late in the game, we missed some tackles that really hurt the team. Garden City was 3/3 in the red zone and from a defensive perspective, that's unacceptable."

After a first quarter riddled with sloppiness in the form of both penalties and play, the Broncbusters got on the board first with a 6-yard touchdown run by Jordan Ford with 5:14 to play in the quarter. The touchdown came after two Dodge City drives that ended in the red zone while netting zero points.

The Conqs finally knotted things up at 7-7 with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back CJ Hall. The score was set up by a 43-yard connection between Rashad McKee to Deonte Rarrieck that got the Conquistadors all the way down to the two-yard line. McKee, a transfer from Gannon University, made his first start of the season in place of Jase Orndorff and Kobe Copple.

Garden City took a 10-7 lead into halftime after a 26-yard field goal with just 1:00 remaining in the half. The Conquistador defense, who had played strong for much of the first half, gave up a 3rd and 11 completion after they had the Broncbusters backed up on their own six-yard line to extend the drive and ultimately give the home team a chance to take the lead.

Dodge City responded immediately out of halftime as CJ Hall went for a career high 65-yard touchdown scamper just two and a half minutes into 3rd quarter action, giving the Conquistadors a 14-10 lead in the process.

After a quick three-and-out, the Conqs took advantage of a short field to get into field goal range as Landon Guidry guided a 38-yard attempt through the uprights to give Dodge City a full touchdown lead at 17-10.

The teams traded three-and-outs before Garden City took over a short field of their own, getting the ball on Dodge City's 28-yard line. They responded by giving the ball to bell-cow running back Jordan Ford four straight times. Ford took the fourth carry into the end zone from 16-yards out to tie the game at 17-17 with 5:26 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

After the Broncbusters were able to secure a field goal before the end of the 3rd quarter to take a 20-17 lead, the Conquistadors again responded to open the 4th scoring on their first possession of the quarter. Mel Danztler got a Conquistador first down, but they were backed up immediately after with a holding call.

On 1st and 20, McKee dialed up a 62-yard touchdown pass to Willie Gaines to give the Conquistadors a 24-20 lead with 12:36 left in the game.

The lead was short lived as Garden Scored two plays later thanks to a 35-yard touchdown run by Ford, his third of the game to give Garden City a 27-24 lead.

With the defense starting to show signs of fatigue, the offense didn't make matters better as they proceeded to go three-and-out their last three possessions of the game.

The Broncbusters' Devion Hodges got in the mix with a 29-yard touchdown run of his own with 3:38 remaining, bringing the game to the final margin of 34-24.

"We made a few costly errors on special teams in the second half which backed our offense up and allowed their offense to start in plus territory twice in the 4th quarter," said Coon. "At the end of the day, we lost the game because of our lack of execution in the critical situations of the game. We have to be able to play better in the red zone on both sides. We must score touchdowns when we get there and we have to hold them to field goals if you want to win."

Running back CJ Hall followed up his 217-yard day on the ground in his last outing against Butler with a 14-carry, 132-yard performance against a talented Broncbuster front-seven. Hall averaged 9.4 yards per carry and added two touchdowns.

Quarterback Rashad McKee flashed signs of promise on his way to a 13-31 performance for 246 yards and a touchdown. He showed an elusiveness that allowed the Conquistadors to keep plays alive, thus keeping drives alive. His favorite target ended up being Donovan Brown who produced four receptions for 71 yards.

Defensively, it was Brendan Hardy who paced the Conquistadors with 11 tackles, five of which were solo.

Slayten Clark also added eight tackles of his own, including 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

The 10-point loss is the closest margin of defeat for the Conquistadors in the last five outings against Garden City after they last beat the Broncbusterss 40-35 in September of 2015.

The game in itself was the first for the Conquistadors in three weeks after a bye week was followed up with their next opponent, Fort Scott, canceling the remainder of their season.

The Conquistadors move to 1-3 on the season and 0-3 in KJCCC play. They are back in action when they host the Independence Pirates to Memorial Stadium on Sunday, May 9. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. with the gate opening at 3:30 p.m.