FOOTBALL: Monday, Sept. 21, 2020
In the long history of the Dodge City-Garden City rivalry, which dates back to 1903, and more recently The Hatchet Game, dating back to 1938, it seems like big plays play a big role in the outcome of this storied matchup between the two Western Athletic Conference schools.
Friday night was no different as the Buffaloes survived a late rally by the Red Demons to escape with a 14-8 triumph at DC’s Memorial Stadium to bring the Hatchet back to Garden City after a two-year residency in the Boot Hill town.
For the record, the Hatchet series still favors Dodge City, 51-29-1, but coach Brian Hill is now 6-5 against the Demons and coach Dave Foster. Nothing could have been more meaningful than the victory on the Demons’ home turf.
“It’s the most important game of the season for us, and it’s a great tribute to the perseverance of these young men to come away with this win,” an elated Hill said afterward. “I couldn’t be more proud of how they hung in there against all the adversity that seems to have hit them.”
The victory also provided the Buffs with their first W of the season, improving to 1-2 and 1-0 in the WAC as they prepare to take on unbeaten Hays on Friday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at Buffalo Stadium. It also snapped a six-game losing streak dating back to the middle of the 2019 season.
Defense was the dominant factor in this battle, but one of the big plays of the game came on a third down with the Buffs holding the ball, when sophomore QB Caleb Wiese went around right end, dipped to the outside and raced down the sidelines past the would-be Dodge tacklers into the end zone. Isaac Rivera’s point-after put the Buffs up 7-0 at the 7:40 mark after the teams had a 0-0 standoff in the first half.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Buffs’ defense had pinned the Demons back deep inside the 10-yard and forced a punt, which Garden’s Alan Chairez blocked and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Rivera’s PAT kick made it 14-0 with 10:30 left in the game.
But as expected, Dodge City didn’t go easily.
The Demons used a 37-yard run by QB Tucker Smith to set up Alden Knedler’s 3-yard touchdown run and the Demons then went for two, with Matt Friess taking an end-around into the end zone, making it 14-8 with 6:19.
Both teams traded possessions in the middle of the field and Dodge’s final possession ended when the Buffs’ defense once again came up with a sack and two batted down passes. Wiese took a knee in the final seconds to run out the clock and give the Buffs the big win.
In the overall series, Dodge City still leads, 74-45-3, but Garden owns a 14-7 advantage since 2000.
Garden City 0 0 7 7 — 14
Dodge City 0 0 0 8 — 8
GC: Caleb Wiese 33 run (Isaac Rivera kick), 7:40. 7-0
GC: Alan Chairez punt block recovered in end zone (Isaac Rivera kick), 10:30. 14-0
DC: Alden Knedler 3 run (Matt Friess run), 6:19. 14-8
Garden City Team Statistics
First Downs: 7; Rushing: 37-115; Passing: 3-11-88-1; Total Offense: 48-203; Penalties: 8-75; Fumbles-lost: 1-0; Punts: 8-26.1. Possession Time: 24:14.