Indians pull out win in Garden City
Published on -9/23/2012, 7:21 PM
By BRETT MARSHALL
Special to The Hays Daily News
GARDEN CITY -- If you're a diehard football fan, this one was for you.
If you're a Hays High Indian football fan, you're breathing a big sigh of relief.
If you're a Garden City Buffaloes football fan, your heart is a little broken.
That's what a 29-21 victory by Hays High left everyone with Friday night at Buffalo Stadium.
Quite simply, it was a game that went right down to the final seconds, as the Indians took advantage of an interception of a Greyson Tempel pass with 1:10 left in the game and then scored the game-winning touchdown on Alex Delton's 5-yard plunge with just 31.7 seconds remaining to break a 21-all deadlock.
The winning score came after a pair of HHS defenders had put pressure on the Garden City quarterback, forcing him into throwing off-balance while also getting hit behind the line of scrimmage.
The result was a wounded duck pass that Emilio Mitchell picked off at the Buffs' 25-yard line before being tackled at the Garden City 19.
"It was a great experience, a great game for the kids," said Hays coach Ryan Cornelsen, whose team is now 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Western Athletic Conference. "Any time you're playing Garden City and coach (Brian) Hill, you're going to get a hard-fought game and this was for sure that."
And while it won't go down as a game where Cornelsen left satisfied, he nonetheless was happy his team persevered through numerous miscues to pick up the victory.
"There were big plays both ways and both of us had turnovers at the goal line," Cornelsen said of those key parts of the victory. "The pass to (Adam) Deterding was a big play for us, but then we gave up a pick, too. They did the same. There's not much difference between the two teams."
The Indians' juggernaut offense that had averaged 51 points in the first three games, was stalled for much of the night by the aggressive Garden City defense.
Still, the Indians managed to rush for 262 yards, led by Delton's 113 yards on 16 attempts. David Cardinal, the team's leading rusher, was held in check and finished with 61 yards on 18 attempts. Fullback Preston Weigel chipped in with 53 yards on 12 carries.
"Garden does a good job of keeping you boxed in and we never got our run game going the way we wanted," Cornelsen said. "We had moments of doing some good things, but there wasn't any consistency, not the way we should. But part of that is due to the attack mentality of Garden City's defense. It's always nice to get a "W" on the road."
Hays had a 7-0 halftime lead thanks to a 99-yard, 15-play drive that consumed 6 minutes, 22 seconds. Mitchell scored on a 7-yard burst and Tanner Pfeifer added the point-after.
The drive came on the heels of a Tempel fumble at the Indians' 1-yard line after the Buffs had driven from their own 19 on their second possession of the game. It would be just one of several lost chances for the Buffs.
Tempel found his twin brother Dustin in full stride for an apparent 73-yard touchdown pass with just over two minutes left in the first half that would have been a potential game-tying score. However, they were whistled for a holding penalty, negating the TD.
The Indians had a late second-quarter drive snuffed out when Delton had a pass picked off by Dustin Tempel in the closing seconds before halftime.
Garden City took the second-half kickoff and marched 75 yards in seven plays as the Tempel twins connected on a 50-yard scoring strike. Rudy Chavez booted the conversion kick and with 9:26 left in the third, the game was knotted at 7-all.
That set the stage for what can only be described as an all-out offensive by both teams in the third period.
Hays responded with a 64-yard drive capped off by Delton's 1-yard run, but Pfeifer's point-after was pushed off to the right, leaving the Indians up, 13-7, with 6:15 remaining.
Back came the Buffs, this time going 68 yards in 12 plays as Greyson Tempel found a wide open Taylor Foley on a short out pattern from the 2-yard line on fourth down. When Chavez was perfect on the conversion kick, the Buffs were up, 14-13, with 1:47 to go.
The Indians came up with their lone big pass play of the night on the ensuing drive, as Delton hit Deterding, a state 5A hurdles champion, on a long sideline pattern and he raced 61 yards for the TD. Cardinal pounded in the PAT to make it 21-14 with 33.6 seconds left.
The scoring onslaught continued as the Buffs showed their mettle by going 84 yards in 12 plays, as Greyson Tempel slithered his way in from 7 yards out and Chavez added the conversion kick to tie the game at 21 with 8:36 remaining in the game.
Once again, the Indians went on the march, moving all the way to the Garden City 7-yard line before Delton fumbled at the 3 on a third-and-goal situation. Garden City recovered and set up shop for what it hoped would be a game-winning drive with 4:54 left.
Six plays and two first downs later, with a little breathing room, the Buffs' Tempel sprinted out to his right, stepped back inside to throw a pass, but in the process got hit and the ball bounced high in the air and Hays' Mitchell plucked it out of the air and was tackled by Brady Bean at the Buffs' 19-yard line.
There was 1:10 showing on the clock.
Last year at Lewis Field, it was Garden City's Carlos Chavez who kicked a game-winning field goal with just over two minutes left to give the Buffs a 24-21 victory.
This time, it was Hays' turn to take advantage. And the Indians did.
On first down, Cardinal was swarmed by the Garden defense for an apparent 10-yard loss, but in the process, the Buffs were whistled for a personal foul, putting the ball on the 13-yard line with just under a minute on the clock.
Cardinal gained five yards and Delton three more before the sophomore quarterback maneuvered his way into the end zone from the 5-yard line with barely half a minute remaining.
The Indians opted to go for two, and Delton found a wide open Deterding in the back of the end zone on a post pattern to provide them with the 8-point margin.
The Indians finished the night with 351 total yards on offense as Delton struggled with a 3-of-8 passing effort for 89 yards. Hays' defense, which had been giving up 35 points per game, showed improvement, but still yielded 363 total yards to the Buffs, 158 of those on the ground (Greyson Tempel 23 carries, 115 yards) and 208 through the air (Tempel 17-of-29 for 208 yards and one interception).
"Coach Hill does a great job of disguising his offense and always has a balanced attack," Cornelsen said of Garden City. "They're difficult to defend, but I thought we did a better job, especially in the first half, of being in the right place.
"Still, we're making too many mistakes, giving up too many big plays. I thought the defense played with more emotion and was better with their assignments. But we've still got a lot of room for improvement."
In the final analysis, however, Cornelsen was happy to head home with a victory in what he knows is a game that could have gone the other way.
"Bottom line, we're 3-1 and 2-0 and that's the good news," Cornelsen said. "It's better than the alternative."
The Indians will be back home on Friday to host non-league Wichita South at 7 p.m. at Lewis Field. Garden City hosts Liberal in a WAC battle on Friday.