On a windy and cold Friday night at Salina Stadium, a second half comeback for Salina Central would fall just short, as Goddard knocked off the Mustangs 42-35.
Salina Central would gamble early, failing on a fourth and one deep in their own end, setting up the Lions in great field position for their first drive of the game. They wouldn’t waste the opportunity, scoring on their first play of the night, a 23-yard run by QB Ashton Sell. The 2-point try would be unsuccessful and GHS would lead 6-0.
Central would respond with a quick touchdown drive capped off by a 22-yard pass from Jack Gordon to Sam Payne, and Central would lead 7-6. They’d get a stop on the ensuing possession by Goddard, and capitalize again, extending the lead to 14-6 on a 21-yard Elijah Wilson run.
Goddard wouldn’t lay down; however, as they’d score on the next possession on a 70-yard run by Micah Johnson, who fans would get very familiar with over the rest of the game. Central would be unable to answer and Johnson would get in the end zone again for the Lions, this time from 27-yards out. And he’d score one more time for good measure before halftime, from 50-yards away, extending Goddard’s lead to 26-14 at the break.
Goddard would then get the ball to start the third quarter and take complete control, unraveling a 13-play, 7 and a half minute touchdown drive to extend the lead to 34-14 on a, you guessed it, Micah Johnson 6-yard run.
But just when all hope seemed lost, Salina Central would finally stop the 28-0 Lion run on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Jack Gordon to Hunter Mowery to jolt just an ounce of life into the Cardiac Kids.
Salina Central had won each of it’s last four games, three of them by three points or less, and tonight, they’d test people’s heart health again.
Neither team would score from the 1:50 mark of the third quarter until the 2:49 mark in the fourth quarter, when a handful of Goddard penalties and some negative rushing plays forced GHS to punt from inside their own end zone, their first punt of the game. On the punt, a low snap caused problems for the Lions, and Central would swarm, blocking the punt and recovering it in the end zone for a touchdown. The deficit was cut to 34-27 on the play and the extra point.
Central would then try an onside kick, recovering it right inside the midfield line, sending the stands into a frenzy.
Just two plays later, Jack Gordon would connect with Ryker Grossner on a 49-yard touchdown pass, bringing the Mustangs within a point with just 1:32 to go. Mustang Head Coach Mark Sandbo would roll the dice, running a fake field goal and setting up Central with an easy pass to complete the 2-point try and put Central ahead 35-34.
Catch your breath – it gets crazier.
On the ensuing kickoff, the villain of the night (or hero, depending where your allegiances lie), Micah Johnson would field the kick at about the Goddard 15 yard line, angling to the left sideline he’s speed around the edge and win the foot race to the end zone, an 85-yard kick return touchdown and Goddard would regain the lead 42-35 thanks to a successful 2-point try.
Central would have one final try, with just over a minute to play. a few completions, and another Goddard penalty would get the Mustangs on the cusp of another miraculous comeback, but a long Gordon throw, deep to the end zone, targeting Payne would somehow be pulled away by Goddard DB Landon Kohlhorst in the end zone, sealing the night’s fate.
Goddard, with the win, improved to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in AVCTL-II play, setting up a de facto League Championship Game vs. crosstown rival Eisenhower (7-0, 5-0 AVCTL-II) next week. Central falls to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in League, and will host Arkansas City on Senior Night next Friday.
Unofficially, Goddard’s Micah Johnson finished with 22 rushes, totalling 243 yards and four rushing touchdowns, scoring a bonus fifth time on the game-winning kick return. As a team, Goddard totalled 373 yards, unofficially, and every single one of them came on the ground. The Lions were just 0-2 passing on the game.
Salina Central was lead by QB Jack Gordon, who completed 13-27 passes for 266 yards, 3 TDs and one unlucky interception. Ryker Grossner earned the Nex-Tech Wireless Player of the Game nod, pulling in 5 catches for 86 yards and a score. RB Elijah Wilson finished with 88 rushing yards, a season-low, as he ends the night with 1,100 rushing yards total on the year so far. He also reached the end zone once. Ty Young gets credited with the H&R Block of the Game, leading the charge on the Mustang special teams unit that blocked the Goddard punt for a touchdown.
Goddard (5-2 / 4-1) – 14 – 12 – 8 – 8 / 42
Central (5-2 / 3-2) – 14 – 0 – 6 – 15 / 35
Jack Gordon – 13/27 – 266 yards – 3 TD – 1 INT
Elijah Wilson – 21 rushes – 88 yards – 1 TD
Jack Gordon – 5 rushes – 27 yards
Ryker Grossner – 5 catches – 86 yards – 1 TD
Hunter Mowery – 3 catches – 49 yards – 1 TD
Tate Gary – 2 catches – 38 yards
Ty Young – 1 catch – 40 yards
Elijah Wilson – 1 catch – 31 yards
Sam Payne – 1 catch – 22 yards – 1 TD
Ashton Sell – 0/2 – 0 yards
Micah Johnson – 22 rushes – 243 yards – 4 TDs – 1 Fumble
Tyson Wallace – 16 rushes – 73 yards
Ashton Sell – 8 rushes – 32 yards – 1 Fumble
Mason Healy – 8 rushes – 35 yards