By Mike Pilosof
Listen to the complete game in our archives section
Garden City, KS-Since he was hired back in 2014, Jeff Sims has always silenced his critics. And following a lopsided loss to Iowa Western, the third-year coach never appeared more confident.
"We will be ready for the next game," he said emphatically last week. "That much I can guarantee you."
If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about the culture and program that Sims and his staff have created in three years, they were put to bed immediately on Saturday.
Charles West recorded his second 100-yard rushing game of the season-totaling 147 yards on 20 carries, Terry Wilson returned to throw a touchdown, and Garden City roared past Dodge City 41-14 at Broncbuster Stadium.
"I'm more proud of the way the guys responded in this game than at any other point during the season," Sims said. "We deserved to win this game because of our approach all week long."
Vs. Iowa Western, the Broncbusters struggled to move the ball consistently. Seven days later, Stephen Shimko's unit was a well-oiled machine.
Garden City (5-3, 4-2) scored on its first four possessions, thanks to an offensive line that paved the way for the brown and gold's best rushing performance of the season: 45 carries for 305 yards and five touchdowns.
"Josh Beekman has really gotten this offensive line to buy in," Sims said. "It's satisfying to see where they started, and where they're at now."
That improved line was on full display on the Broncbusters first possession.
Garden City drove 74 yards in 10 plays, mixing in West on the ground and Wilson through the air. Once the Broncbusters crossed midfield, the freshman quarterback threw a dart to Daniel Davis, who turned up the right sideline for a 36-yard gain to the Conquistadors 11. Three plays later, Billy Mance scored his first collegiate touchdown on a three-yard blast, giving Sims' squad a 7-0 lead.
"We were teetering a little bit earlier in the week," Sims said. "But we gave these guys some extra motivation, and they responded."
Defensive back Warren Saba definitely got the message.
On the Conquistadors next possession, Saba picked off Walters and raced 45 yards to the Dodge City (4-5, 1-4) 2-yard line. One play later, Kahari Foy-Walton barreled into the end zone, giving the Broncbusters a 14-0 edge 10 minutes into the game.
"We got a lot of guys touches in this game," Sims said.
The onslaught continued early in the second.
Rayvon Bartlett, who made his first collegiate start at quarterback vs. Iowa Western, was inserted on the next series. And the move paid major dividends.
The freshman, who was also a star basketball player in high school, showed off his athleticism, sprinting 47 yards to the Dodge City 14.
"I've said it from day one: collectively, this is a good football team," Sims said.
Three plays later, Wilson was back in, lofting a perfect rainbow to tight end Nigel Kilby for an eight-yard touchdown and a 20-0 advantage (James White's extra point was blocked).
"It was not in Terry's best interest to play last week," Sims said. "Sometimes you have to look at the big picture, and that's what we did in that respect."
West, who was one of the guys who did not play much against Iowa Western, was eager to make an impact. He did just that on the Broncbusters' next series.
Garden City drove 94 yards in 11 plays with West carrying the ball six times for 67 yards, the last 51 of those coming on a spectacular dash to pay dirt that put the Broncbusters up 28-0 with 6:22 left.
"We aren't there yet," Sims said. "But as a team, we are getting closer. That's our job: to put these guys in a situation to be able to move on. The best way to do that is to get them reps."
West added his second touchdown run early in the third quarter, racing 56 yards down the right sideline. The play, which was setup by a pulverizing block by Foy-Walton, pushed the lead to 35-0.
"This wasn't the best game that we've played," Sims explained. "But it was definitely our best week of preparation."
While the offense was in high gear, the defense played one of their best games of the season. Meiko Dotson picked off two passes including an end zone interception that thwarted one Dodge City drive in the third quarter.
"Our coaches always teach us to run the routes for the receiver," Dotson said. "That's what I did there."
That interception setup Garden City's final score of the night: Alaric Williams six-yard touchdown run that capped off a seven-play, 50-yard drive that gave the Broncbusters a 41-0 lead with 14:56 to play in the game.
"I thought all of our running backs ran hard," Sims said. "They were extremely physical."
Dodge City added two scores in the fourth: Walters six-yard td pass to Braxton Haley ended the shutout before Anthony Watkins five-yard scoring run made it 41-14 with 2:40 left.
"These guys gave everything in this game, and that's what it takes," Sims said.
Wilson completed 12-of-17 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown for Garden City, who has now outscored Dodge City 77-21 in their last two meetings. Taylor Thomas carried the ball eight times for 46, and Davis caught four balls for 51 yards.
Walters was 15-of-32 for 208 yards, a touchdown and three picks for Dodge City, who has lost four out of their last five games. Tyler Minor had 19 yards on the ground and Caleb Mills reeled in seven balls for 122 yards.
Notes: The Broncbusters held Dodge City to a season-low 73 yards rushing…Garden City was 8-of-15 on third down and held the ball for 30:00…Garden City put up 419 total yards of offense, their second highest total of the season…With three more takeaways, the Broncbusters have now forced 15 turnovers in their last four games
Next up: Garden City at Air Force Prep-Friday, October 27-3 p.m.