DCCC Football: Shootout Doesn’t Fall Conqs Way in Loss to Independence

Joe Penno
DCCC Sports Information Director

The Dodge City Conquistadors played host to the Independence Pirates on Sunday afternoon, falling 54-34 in an offensive-minded affair.

After the two teams traded scoreless possessions to open the game, the Conquistadors struck first on a two-yard touchdown run by CJ Hall with 6:10 remaining in the 1st quarter.

However, a blocked extra point resulted in just a 6-0 lead for the Conqs.

From that point forward, the first half belonged entirely to the Pirates.

The visitors got on the scoreboard just over two minutes later when Independence's quarterback Brock Domann found tight end Nate Damron in the end zone for a three-yard score to give the Pirates a 7-6 lead.

After surrendering a field goal, the Conqs found themselves down 10-6 at the start of the 2nd quarter. On the first play of their drive to open up the quarter, running back Cal'Von Harris coughed up the football after a nine-yard carry and the Pirates recovered. Independence proceeded to score on the very next play, a 22-yard completion from Domann to Jacory Logan to make the score 17-6.

The Conquistadors put together a drive down to the Independence 25-yard line thanks in large part to a 38-yard strike from Rashad McKee to Willie Gaines, but a 42-yard field goal attempt by Landon Guidry sailed wide right and the Pirates took over on downs.

Following a field goal to make the score 20-7, it was the Independence defense who did their part to help increase the lead. On 3rd and five from the Conquistador 37-yard line, McKee fired a pass that fell out of his receiver's hands and into the waiting arms of an Independence defensive back who returned the interception 41 yards for a Pirate touchdown, extending their lead to 27-6 with 7:57 left until halftime.

Mel Dantzler halted the Pirate scoring run with a six-yard touchdown burst to cap off a seven-play, 58-yard drive and make the score 34-13 with just 1:27 left until halftime.

Jontrell Steward and Nico Perofeta joined forces for a sack of Domann on the opening play of the ensuing Pirate possession, but the Conquistadors couldn't capitalize and followed up by allowing a 45-yard catch and run just two plays later to help Independence into field goal range.

The last second field goal attempt was good, making the score 37-13 at intermission.

With a touchdown and field goal to open the second half, the Pirates lead reached as high as 34 at 47-13 with 9:10 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Conqs were able to pull within three scores at 47-27 off the strength of back-to-back touchdown strikes from Rashad McKee. McKee found Elisha Turner from 10-yards out to cap of a seven-play, 84-yard drive then used just one play to get in the endzone with a 34-yard pass to Willie Gaines.

Despite the late push, the game felt all but decided heading into the 4th quarter. The two teams traded touchdowns in the final 15 minutes, leading to the final score of 54-34.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't play well as a team despite having some good moments on both sides," said head coach Ricky Coon. "Offensively, I was happy to see that we were able to get some stuff going and score some points in the second half, but the two first half turnovers were a killer to our momentum after taking the lead early. Defensively, we were just awful. We made uncharacteristic errors and didn't tackle well. I'm responsible to blame for the defensive side of things and it was unacceptable.

As a team, we have to be able to score on offense when we aren't getting stops on defense, and we have to be able to get stops on defense when we aren't scoring on offense. We haven't been able to do either consistently."

Rashad McKee led the Conquistador passing attack with 270 yards through the air, their highest output this season.

Elisha Turner (5 receptions, 91 yards) and Willie Gaines (4 receptions, 88 yards) were the benefactors of McKee's big day, each hauling in a touchdown in the process. The stable of backs in Cal'Von Harris, Mel Dantzler, and CJ Hall combined for 124 yards with a touchdown on the ground each.

Tyquan Hayes led the Conquistador defense in tackles with nine from the defensive back position as Independence was able to gash the Conq defense with several big plays. The Conquistadors gave up 605 yards of total offense to the Pirates with 353 and four touchdowns through air mixed with 252 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Conqs were able to create some big plays of their own defensively with 13 tackles for loss, but couldn't find a way to consistently string enough together in a series.

The loss drops the Conquistadors' record to 1-4 on the season and 0-4 in KJCCC play. They complete their stretch of three-consecutive top-10 opponents with a trip to Hutchinson to take on the No. 1 ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons on Sunday, May 16 at 1 p.m. at Gowans Stadium.

Tickets can be purchased on www.bluedragonsports.com under the "Ticketing Policy" tab. Stay tuned to Conquistador social media for when those tickets will become available.