The Garden City Bearkats aren’t ones to waste opportunities or time.
So just because there were less than two minutes left in the second quarter, didn’t mean they should roll into halftime with a small lead over Ira.
Garden City had different plans en route to its 80-46 win over the Bulldogs in the six-man football state quarterfinal matchup at Memorial Stadium in Big Spring.
“I think we scored two touchdowns within a minute and 30 seconds just before the half, Garden City head coach Vance Jones said. “That was really huge.”
In fact, it was three touchdowns in the last 1:03 of the second quarter. While Ira was mired with fumbles and unable to get the ball moving on one drive, the Bearkats saw an opportunity to bust the game wide open, which they did.
The Bulldogs were down 22-16 late in the second, but two fumbles led to a loss of four and nine yards on first and second down, respectively. The 16-yard gain from Lance Morris on the next play wasn’t enough to erase the mistakes.
That led to GCHS quarterback Blayne Batla completing a 27-yard touchdown pass to Brett Chudej, giving the Bearkats a two score lead.
Garden City piled it on when Josh Colunga scored on a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:03 left in the second. Ira’s star tailback Lance Morris answered with 45-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 36-24.
However, as quick as it took Morris to score, it was even quicker for Garden City. Batla connected with Colunga for a 34-yard score with 25 seconds left in the second. Garden City recovered an onside kick and with 15 seconds left, Batla found Brian Hirt for 26 yards. Suddenly what was a close game before halftime was a 52-24 lead for the Bearkats.
One of the catalyst in the second-quarter surge, and was Batla, who was 9-of-16 for 202 yards and five touchdowns.
Batla said he knew the Bulldogs were prepared to stop Colunga, who still managed a healthy 201 yards on 23 carries for three touchdowns. That opened up the passing game.
“They stopped Josh on a lot of plays,” Batla said. “I just ran around and saw Brett open and threw it to him and he made the rest of it.”
Ira didn’t go down easily after the second-quarter breakdown. Morris still gave the Bearkats fits, racking up 20 carries for 230 yards and four scores. At one point, Morris had a 45-yard touchdown run and 51-yard touchdown run on the first play of two different drives.
“He’s the fastest running back we’ve faced all year,” Jones said. “We’ve faced some really good back in Paducah, Calvert and Borden County’s got some speed. But he’s probably the fastest and he’s a straight ahead runner and if he gets a seam, he’s gone.”
But once again, Garden City didn’t stop scoring in the second half.
Batla had a touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown and Colunga had two scores to stave off any comeback attempt from Ira.
Follett is next up for Garden City in the state semifinals and it’s a familiar opponent. The two teams faced each other last year in the playoffs, a contest Garden City won.
“I know they’re out for revenge,” said Chudej, who caught four ball for 84 yards and three touchdowns. “We’re going to give them our best shot. I know they’re coming for us.”
GARDEN CITY 80, IRA 46
Garden City 14 38 8 20 - 80
Ira 16 8 8 14 - 46
IHS - Lance Morris 37 run (Seth Cotton kick), 8:16
GCHS - Aaron Long 25 pass from Josh Colunga (Brett Chudej kick), 6:54
GCHS - Brett Chudej 17 pass from Blayne Batla (kick failed), 3:15
IHS - Richard DeLuna 1 run (Cotton kick), 0:36
GCHS - Colunga 25 run (Chudej kick), 9:02
GCHS - Chudej 27 pass from Batla (Chudej kick), 6:11
GCHS - Colunga 12 run (kick failed), 1:03
IHS - Morris 45 run (Cotton kick), 0:51
GCHS - Colunga 34 pass from Batla (Chudej kick), 0:25
GCHS - Brian Hirt 26 pass from Batla (Chudej kick), 0:15
GCHS - Chudej 33 pass from Batla (Chudej kick), 6:16
IHS - DeLuna 45 run (Cotton kick), 5:54
GCHS - Colunga 3 run (kick failed), 9:50
IHS - Morris 45 run (Cotton kick), 9:35
GCHS - Batla 6 run (kick failed), 7:10
IHS - Morris 51 run (kick failed), 6:51
GCHS - Colunga 14 run (Chudej kick), 4:15
First downs 19 7
Rushes-yards 34-276 24-272
Passing yards 227 27
Comp.-Att.Int. 10-17-0 2-7-1
Punts-Avg. 0-0 1-51.0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 5-0
Penalties-yds. 2-10 0-0
RUSHING - Garden City: Josh Colunga 23-201, Reggie Halfmann 2-15, Blayne Batla 3-22, Brian Hirt 3-20, Ruben Mier 3-15, Brett Chudej 1-3. Ira: Lance Morris 20-230, Richard DeLuna 2-46, Seth Cotton 2-(-4).
PASSING - Garden City: Blayne Batla 9-16-0-202, Colunga 1-2-0-25. Ira: Morris 1-4-0-8, Cotton 1-3-1-19.
RECEIVING - Garden City: Chudej 4-84, Colunga 2-52, Aaron Long 1-25, Ian Schaefer 1-24. Ira: Cotton 1-8, Steven Juarez 1-19.