In each of the Garden City High School Buffaloes first three games of the season, the defense has allowed the opponent to score in the final 30 seconds of the first half.
On Friday during Homecoming, the Hutchinson touchdown with 22 seconds left before the break was — at least in the eyes of head coach Brian Hill — the turning point in a 21-12 loss to the visiting Salthawks.
“We don’t make the fourth down and they turn right around and score a touchdown,” Hill said as the Buffs fell to 0-3. “You can’t do those types of things and expect to win.”
At the time, the Buffs and Salthawks (1-2) were all square at 6, and the Buffs had just forced a turnover on downs in Hutchinson territory. The Buffs faced a 4th-and-3 at the Hutch 20, but a Carlos Acosta pass went incomplete on the fourth-down attempt, turning it back over to the Salthawks at their own 20 with 46 seconds to go in the half.
On the first play from scrimmage, the Salthawks broke off an 80-yard run down to the Buffs’ 1-yard line. One play later, Alex McCuan was in the end zone to give Hutchinson a 12-6 lead at intermission.
“It’s frustrating to watch consistently the same mistakes being made no matter what we do,” Hill said. “It’s really a confidence thing right now. We just don’t know how to win. When we have opportunities to make winning plays, we just don’t know how to do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s offense, defense or special teams, we’re just not making a play right now.”
The defense did make a play when the Buffs desperately needed it, forcing a fumble in the middle of the fourth quarter and the Buffs down 21-6. Sergio Garcia picked it up and returned it to the Hutch 32. Two Josh Janas runs later, the Buffs were in the end zone.
But after the extra point was blocked, the Buffs were still down two scores and time ran out on any hope of a miracle comeback. Janas finished with 119 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, but the rest of the Buffs’ offense had just 63 more yards. Meanwhile, Hutchinson’s triple option attack racked up 325 yards on 52 carries.
Now, the Buffs hit the road for three straight games away from Buffalo Stadium, starting with the WAC opener at Hays at 7 p.m. Friday. They fellow with league game at Liberal before playing at Wichita Northwest on Oct. 11. They are back home on Oct. 18 for the Hatchet Game against Dodge City.
“Everyone has to take responsibility for who we are and what we do,” Hill said about the Buffs’ goal going forward.
Hutch: Chambers 10 run (kick missed), 11:53
GC: Janas 2 run (kick missed), 3:32
Hutch: McCuan 1 run (run failed), 0:22
Hutch: Rogers 4 run (Villarreal kick), 8:28
Hutch: Punt block for safety, 8:47
GC: Janas 23 run (kick blocked), 6:42
RUSHING: Hutchinson: Chambers 13-132, McCuan 16-97, Barlow 11-45, Cantu 5-39, Rogers 7-12; Garden City: Janas 21-119, Acosta 7-10, Dominguez 3-2.
PASSING: Hutchinson: Chambers 1-2-8-0-0; Garden City: Acosta 6-13-51-0-0, Reyes 0-3-0-0-0.
RECEIVING: Hutchinson: Newquist 1-8; Garden City: Durst 3-43, Reyes 3-8.