Hays High football coach Tony Crough was almost at a loss for words after his Indians came up short in Friday night’s game against Garden City.
Hays High was driving for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter but couldn’t overcome three decisions that did not go the Indians’ way in a 35-32 homecoming loss to the Buffaloes.
“We need to definitely see what went wrong,” Crough said.
After Garden City scored with 3:58 remaining in the Western Athletic Conference matchup at Lewis Field Stadium to take the lead, Hays High senior Hayden Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to the HHS 44. Hays High drove 46 yards in five plays to the Garden City 10-yard line, but a dead ball personal foul penalty moved the Indians back 15 yards. Two plays later, the Indians thought they had a diving catch at the 1-yard line only to have it ruled incomplete. On fourth down from the Garden City 26, HHS sophomore quarterback Dylan Dreiling lofted a pass to the goal line, where it appeared a pair of Buffs defenders jostled the receiver, but a flag was not thrown.
“That call didn’t get us beat,” Crough said. “It’s frustrating when they make that call earlier in the game against our kid, he seemed to have better coverage than that.”
After a pair of kneel downs, Garden City (1-3 overall, 1-0 WAC) claimed its first win of the season. Hays High, which won its first game last week at Liberal, dropped to 1-3 and 1-2.
Crough pointed to other plays earlier in the game that also proved pivotal, in addition to those in the final series.
“It’s hard to teach a kid that’s not what got us beat,” Crough said of the Indians’ final chance to win the game.
Crough did take some positives from the game, in particular the ability to run the ball.
“We thought we had some things we could expose in the run game, and we did,” Crough said. “It’s good to see that, something we can build on.”
Sophomore Roy Moroni led Hays High in rushing with 156 yards on just six carries with a pair of dazzling scoring runs, from 73 and 33 yards out.
“We’ve been trying to get him going,” Crough said. “He’s a really good running back. We need to give him the ball more.”
Dreiling added 100 yards on the ground and a 65-yard score. Brown ran 6 yards for one TD and added a pass out of the Wildcat formation that 6-foot-8 senior wide receiver Dylan Ruder won a jump ball for in the back of the end zone for a 7-yard score to give the Indians a 32-27 lead with 9:35 remaining in the game.
Garden City responded with a 12-play drive, all but one on the ground, to take the lead on a 2-yard run by junior Josh Janas. He added a halfback pass for the 2-point conversion for a 35-32 lead. Janas led the Buffs with 171 yards rushing and two TDs.
Buffalo senior quarterback Carlos Acosta accounted for 195 total yards, including a 51-yard TD pass, before going down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Garden City’s first score came after a bad snap deep inside HHS territory, with sophomore defensive lineman Saul Perez recovering the loose ball in the end zone. Dreiling, in just his fourth varsity start, attempted to pick up the bouncing ball instead of falling on it.
“He’s trying to make a play, it’s effort,” Crough said. “He hasn’t been in situations enough to fall on it or kick it out.”
Crough said it is part of the learning process for his young team, adding a blown coverage in the secondary gave Garden City another touchdown. Lessons learned in a close loss.
“It makes it tough when you lose,” Crough said. “Winning solves a lot of problems.”
Hays High will travel to Wichita South next Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Titans (3-1) lost their first game of the season Friday, 26-14 at Wichita East.