EARL WATT • Leader & Times
DODGE CITY — A frustrated coach Bryan Luetters paced the sidelines in Dodge City Friday while the Redskins gave Dodge City chance after chance to stay in the game.
Despite the extra chances, Dodge City couldn’t overcome a stout Angry Red defensive effort, and despite the frustration throughout the night, Luetters ended the night by hugging his assistants after a 21-7 Liberal win.
The victory formation kneel at the end did not come without frustration. Luetters had to call a time out because his team was one man short.
But Brooks Kappelmann took the final snap, placed his knee on the turf, and then the Redskins celebrated the Western Athletic Conference win.
Liberal scored first with an 11-play, 74 yard drive that ended with a four-yard run by Kappelmann into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
But the Red Demons put together their best series of the night with a 10-play, 66-yard drive that included a 21-yard quarterback scramble on a third-and-10 and a nine-yard touchdown run by Ryan Gonzales to tie the game 7-7.
Liberal pushed the ball deep into Dodge City territory late in the second quarter, but an interception at the 14 yard line ended the threat.
The Red Demons took advantage of another Redskin turnover to start the second half when the Redskins fumbled the opening kickoff, and Dodge city took over at the Liberal 42 yard line.
Dodge drove the ball to the Liberal 6 yard line before three straight plays for loss left the Red Demons attempting a 31-yard field goal the fell short.
Liberal gave Dodge another chance when they marched the ball 79 yards in nine plays but was stopped short of the goal line on a fourth-and-one.
But the Redskin defense forced a three-and-out, and Zayden Martinez returned the punt to the Red Demon 29 yard line.
Four plays later Kappelmann found Martinez for a 16-yard touchdown pass and a 13-7 lead.
The next three possessions ended with fumbles, one form Liberal and two from Dodge City including a fumble after a 25-yard pass completion for the Red Demons that ended up in the hands of Alex Schwindt.
Three plays later Kappelmann found Martinez again, and after he shook three Red Demon defenders he sprinted to the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown reception and a 21-7 Liberal lead.
Two possessions later Aidan Schwindt intercepted his second pass of the night to secure the 21-7 win.
“I have so many memories on this field,” Luetters said. “It was emotional. I have a lot of friends and family who were supporting us. They have the Dodge City stuff on but rooting for us.”
But the win came despite committing three turnovers and being stopped in the red zone on a pair of possessions.
“I’ve never been part of a game where we gave the other team so many opportunities,” Luetters said. “Two chances from the 1 yard line and we don’t punch it in., turnovers, fumbles — opening kickoff of the second half we fumble. To come out and win by two touchdowns is truly a testament to what these kids are doing.”
Defensively the Redskins wreaked havoc all night with tackles for losses and forcing four Red Demon turnovers.
“All the props to the kids,” Liberal defensive coordinator Wyatt Seidl said. “They bought in this year. I don’t like reinventing the wheel. I really like a 4-3 defense. But the way Dodge City plays we had to change it up a little bit.”
Those changes led to multiple three and outs, and Tyren Holmes had a big night in the middle.
Liberal moved to 4-0 for the first time in 20 years and will travel to garden City Friday to face the Buffaloes. Garden City (3-1) is coming off a 24-21 overtime win over Hays.