DODGE CITY — The Dodge City High School football team beat Hays High 12-7 on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
In a game delayed more than two-and-a-half hours due to lightning, the Red Demons overcame the Indians the way the Indians nearly overcame the Red Demons: With strong defense.
In the first half, neither offense thrived. The two combined for eight punts, three turnovers-on-downs, one interception (thrown by Dodge City sophomore quarterback Beau Foster) and one punt by the Red Demons which Hays muffed and Dodge City recovered.
The teams went into halftime scoreless.
The second half began with offense. Dodge City received the kickoff, and Foster completed a pass to sophomore receiver John Johnson to make the score 6-0 after a missed extra-point attempt with 9:46 left in the third quarter.
Nearly five minutes later, following Foster’s second of three interceptions, Hays High responded with a touchdown pass of its own — from senior quarterback Hunter Brown to junior wide receiver Palmer Hutchison. The extra point made it 7-6 Indians, a score that held well into the fourth quarter.
After receiving the ball with 5:03 left, Foster threw his last interception of the game near the Hays 14-yard line.
Then, the drama began.
Later on the Hays High drive following the interception, and with 3:30 left, a tackle during a handoff led to a Hays High fumble. Dodge City sophomore Tommy Bermudez picked up the ball, ran for the end zone and broke a tackle as he neared the goal line, scoring on the play. A failed two-point conversion attempt put the Red Demons ahead 12-7.
It also, however, gave Brown and the Hays High offense more than three minutes to potentially drive down the field and win the game.
That gave the team some confidence, HHS coach Randall Rath said.
“We were confident. We’ve just gotta execute, and we didn’t,” Rath said. “Little things are what we’re struggling with. Defensively, we’re a pretty good football team. Offensively, we just get handled up front, and we’ve gotta get better.”
The Red Demon defense, Rath said, was impressive.
“Both defenses played well, and we knew that coming in here,” Rath said. “Their two defensive tackles are the best two we’ve probably seen this year, especially (Marcos Fisher). Fisher is just extremely athletic, and he has a high motor. (He’s a) great kid and a great football player.”
Red Demons coach Dave Foster said he was concerned when the team gave the ball back to Brown with so much time remaining, but he knew the Indian offense was being asked to do something different from normal.
“We knew we needed to stay focused on the run game because that was their forte,” Foster said. “We made a quick adjustment to be in our 40-package, which all night we jumped back-and-forth from, 40 and 50, based on tendencies we had seen.”
Hunter completed multiple short-to-intermediate passes before his team fumbled the ball.
“We just knew that with the way our defense had played, we were trying to give our defensive backs extra support back there and continue to get our kids up front to continue to play like they did all night,” Foster said.
Bermudez’ fumble recovery and touchdown return ended up being the last points either team scored in Friday night’s game.
“That was obviously a critical play,” Foster said. “It was obviously a frustrating night offensively but against a very good defense. We saw some things through the air, but whether you were with the wind dictated that as well as down-and-distance situations. It was just a very good defensive team we played tonight.”
The Indians are at home next week as they take on McPherson on Friday to open district play.