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Key defensive stop, long drive leads to 23-21 come-from-behind win PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 14 October 2017 08:26

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Liberal’s Tyrique Chandler returns a kick-off against Great Bend Friday. Late in the fourth quarter Chandler caught a pass on third-and-16 for 36 yards when Liberal trailed by a single point, and Cesar Burciaga later hit  a 23-yard field goal that gave the Redskins a 23-21 win L&T photo/Earl Watt

By EARL WATT

• Leader & Times

GREAT BEND — If games were decided in the first few minutes, the Panthers would have been poised to walk away with a blowout win.

Thankfully for the Redskins, games are decided in the final few minutes, and a huge defensive stop followed by a drive with a key third-down conversion ended with a 23-yard field goal and capped a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback and a 23-21 Liberal Redskin win over Panthers.

Liberal fell behind early when Great Bend only needed six plays to march the ball 67 yards for a first-quarter touchdown and a 7-0 Panther lead.

After a Liberal punt, the Panthers put together their second straight scoring drive, marching the ball 65 yards in eight plays to take a 14-0 lead with 18 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Liberal still could not put together a sustained drive, and after the third straight Cesar Burciaga punt, the Panthers took over at their own 35 yard line.

And for the third straight drive, the Panthers moved the ball against the Redskin defense. Great Bend converted a third-and-24 along the way and even a fourth-and-5 keeping the drive alive for 17 plays before the Angry Red defense was able to force a 30-yard field goal attempt.

But the kick was wide right, and the Redskins narrowly missed a three-score deficit.

Liberal ended the half with a desperation throw to the goal line that was intercepted, and the only positive for the defense in the first half was a missed Panther field goal.

But like they have done all season, the Redskins adjusted at half, and after a failed onside attempt by Liberal gave the Panthers the ball at midfield, the Redskin defense forced the first three-and-out of the game.

Syris Dunlap gained 18 yards on two carries on an eight-play, 31-yard drive, but it stalled, and Burciaga punted for the fourth time.

It would be his last punt of the night.

After the Redskin defense forced another three-and-out, Liberal again took over at their own 18 yard line, and after Isaiah Witherspoon was stopped for no gain on first down, Dunlap sprinted to the left side on a quarterback sweep, and he turned the corner, outrunning the Panther defenders for an 82-yard touchdown, and Liberal cut the Panther lead to 14-7.

But Great Bend responded with a 10-play, 56-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown run, and the Panthers restored their 14-point lead, 21-7.

The Redskins were forced to look to the air to keep its next drive alive on a third-and-nine, and a jump ball to Braxton Hyde was wrestled away from the Panther defender, and Hyde had a 42-yard gain.

After three straight runs by Burciaga for 13 yards, Dunlap broke free on a 19-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, and the Redskins were back to within seven, 21-14.

Great Bend attempted to complete a pass on third-and-four on the next drive, but it was tipped high in the air, and Pancho Terrazas came down with an interception at the Panther 32 yard line.

Liberal only needed four plays to reach the end zone, and Burciaga took the handoff and the ball into the end zone on a  one-yard dive to cut Great Bend’s lead to one.

Burciaga attempted the tying PAT, but a muffed snap and bad kick led to a blocked attempt, and Liberal trailed 21-20 with seven minutes remaining in the game.

The Panthers chewed up three minutes while driving the ball down to the Liberal 30 yard line.

But on a fourth-and-inches, the Panthers attempted to convert, but they bobbled the snap, and the Redskins recovered, giving their offense one final chance.

Liberal put together a 12-play drive that started with a steady dose of Burciaga and Dunlap that pushed the ball inside Panther territory to the 47 yard line.

But Dunlap was sacked for an eight-yard loss that set up a third-and 17 at the 45 yard line.

Dunlap fired the ball down the sideline toward Chandler, and even though he had a Panther right on his hip, Chandler was able to adjust in, then out, go to the top of his jump and bring down a 46-yard reception, giving the Redskins the ball at the Panther 9 yard line with less than two minutes to play.

Liberal attempted three straight running plays but could not cross the go line.

On fourth-and-goal from the 6 yard line, Liberal coach Jason Dunlap opted for the field goal, and this time the snap was good, and Burciaga put just enough on the kick to clear the crossbar and give the Redskins a 23-21 lead.

Great Bend attempted to lateral the ball several times on the final play of the game, but the Angry Red defense forced a tackle, and the Redskins snapped a 14-year losing streak with a 23-21 come-from-behind win.

“The kids played hard,” Dunlap said. “It was bend but not break. The second half, we played a lot better as a team, stopped hurting ourselves and plays started working.”

The halftime adjustments helped shut down the Panther offense and got the offensive moving.

“We got on to them a little but assured  them they were still in the game,” Dunlap said of the halftime discussion. “Great Bend was tougher than us to start the game.”

But Dunlap was finally able to see some daylight in the second half, and he gashed the Panthers for two touchdowns.

“The front line blocked, and I am so very proud of them,” Dunlap said. “They maintained their blocks a hair longer, and a hair longer is all we need.”

The linebackers also keyed the shutdown defense. Including Misael Monarrez.

“He got chewed on at halftime,” Dunlap said. “Misael stepped up and became a leader tonight. He did some big things for us, he played harder. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play this hard in three years.”

The win pushed the Redskins to 5-2 on the season, and they will face Dodge City who lost to Garden City 40-9 Friday.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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