With a backup quarterback and down 6 points going into the second half of last week’s game vs. Liberal, the Garden City Buffaloes put up 20-consecutive points to win 26-12.
After back-to-back wins, the Buffs have improved to 2-3 after an 0-3 start — even more important, the Buffs are 2-0 in the WAC.
But tonight at 7 in Wichita, the Buffs play one more non-conference opponent in the regular season, taking on the undefeated Grizzlies of Northwest.
Northwest is 5-0 and is out-scoring opponents, 235-39, presenting a large barrier for the Buffs to continue their recent winning streak. Northwest is ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, fresh off a 45-0 shellacking of Kapaun-Mt. Carmel.
They’re rushing for more than 300 yards per game, led by Julius Bolden’s 551 yards and 12 touchdowns on 66 carries. Quarterback Reagan Jones also has run for 461 yards and four touchdowns on 75 carries.
Jones has also thrown for more than 700 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Buffs will start Zane Burns at quarterback, which will be the sophomore’s second career varsity start. Burns is replacing Carlos Acosta as signal caller, after three-year starter Acosta was injured vs. Hays two weeks ago.
Burns was 7 of 9 for 106 yards and a touchdown vs. Liberal a week ago. He also ran for 22 yards on 11 carries. But the biggest thing he did was take care of the ball, according to head coach Brian Hill.
“When you turn the ball over, you automatically lose an opportunity to score,” Hill said. “We always talk about trying to play the next play.”
In the decisive second half, the Buffs did not turn the ball over once.
“I thought the way we performed was probably the best half all year long,” Hill said. “It was the most complete half in all three phases, not turning the ball over on offense, making the big stops on fourth down and a couple of key special teams plays really played a big role.”
Northwest, though, will present another tier of challenge, closer to the Derby team the Buffs played in the season-opener.
After the Grizzlies, the Buffs hop back into WAC play, hosting Dodge City in the Hatchet Game on Oct. 18.