The Goodland Cowboys football team did something Friday night that hadn’t be done in five years, win a season opener.
Behind a career night on the ground from senior quarterback Leyton Cure the Cowboys took down 5A Liberal in a reschedule COVID-19 game, 43-32.
Goodland, who originally had Wray, Colorado on their schedule to begin the 2020 season, also had a fill in coaching staff as the entire high school staff was not able to coach due to having to quarantine after an assistant contracted the coronavirus last week. So behind the junior high football staff and two administrators the Cowboys pulled out the victory.
It was certainly a game of runs. Goodland would get our to a quick 15-0 lead thanks to a recover squib kick to start the game followed by two touchdown passes from Cure to sophomore wideout Devontay Hardy. But Liberal would regroup and get right back in the game with 18 unanswered points of their own thank to two Shay Kerr rushing scores and an Eastin Zapien touchdown run.
The Goodland defense would regroup, get a interception and force a punt in the second quarter while the Cowboy offense would take the lead back with just over two minutes left before half on a Leyton Cure 15-yard touchdown scamper making it 22-18 at the midway point.
The second half would see Goodland find the endzone two more times early in the third quarter to expand their lead to 38-18. But once again Liberal would find a way to work itself back into the contest with long nine play drive capped by the second Zapien touchdown run. And then after a GHS three-and-out Jaylin Staten would take a punt return to the house from 55 yards out to make it 36-32, Goodland, going into the fourth quarter.
But in the fourth quarter the Goodland defense came to life again forcing its second takeaway on a fumble recovery and that would lead to game game clinching drive which saw the Cowboys march 52 yards to the end zone capped by a Mason Murray 26 yard touchdown run making it an 11 point lead after the extra point.
The Cowboy D would stand tall and force a turnover on downs on the final Liberal possession to seal the win.
Goodland would total 360 yards of offense in a balanced attack with 181 on the ground and 179 through the air. Leyton Cure himself had 315 total yards. He went 9 of 14 with 179 passing to six different receivers and two touchdowns with a pick. He also had a career high 135 rushing yards on 24 carries with three scores. Mason Murray had 40 yards on the ground with a score. DJ Know was the leading wideout with 48 yards on two receptions. Devontay Hardy had 45 yards receiving on two catches both resulting in touchdowns.
Liberal totaled 258 yards on offense with 208 of it coming on the ground. Eastin Zapien had 131 yards rushing on 23 carries with two scores. Quarterback Shay Kerr had 13 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns. He also was just 3-14 for 50 yards and an interception. Malcolm Wiltshire was the leading receiver for LHS with two catches for 36 yards.
For Goodland it was their first season opening win since beating Wray, Colorado in 2015. It was also the first win for GHS over Liberal who had won the previous two meetings back in 1985 and 1953.
Goodland (1-0) will be back at home at Cowboy Stadium for their next game on Friday the 11th hosting Bridgeport, Nebraska in another rescheduled COVID game slated to start at 5 MT. Liberal (0-1) will have their home opener this Friday hosting Dodge City.
Goodland Interim Coach Marty Lehman:
PHOTO CREDIT: Leon Volk