The Wichita Force showed no rust from a two-week layoff Saturday night. Rather, the Force released a large amount of pent-up energy in rolling to a 91-51 victory over Dodge City at Intrust Bank Arena.
The Force gained a measure of revenge on the Law (7-2) in evening its record at 4-4, scoring a record total of points for the three years the team has been in existence. It was a nice step forward for the Force, the defending CIF champion.
Afterward, coach Paco Martinez was pleased – or maybe it was relieved – at the decisive victory.
“It was definitely a revenge game,” he said. “They beat us twice, and they’ve never beaten us until this year. They’re a really good team, and they were at the top of our (CIF South) division, and it was good to get the victory and finally play the way that I know that we could be playing all year.
“Hopefully, we’re turning the corner and we continue to play like this.”
Saturday’s game also could be considered a turning point as well for quarterback Jake Medlock, in his first season in Wichita. He completed 28 of 36 passes for 261 yards and a season-high seven touchdowns.
“We kind of changed things up this week, went at a little faster tempo, and the guys really responded well to him,” Martinez said. “He called most of his own plays (Saturday night), based off of what we practiced with, but he did an outstanding job of executing.
“Once he gets that comfort of it, and knows what he likes, the sky’s the limit for what he can do, because he was very comfortable in what he wanted to do.”
When he wasn’t connecting with his receivers, the 6-foot-3 Medlock ran the ball in, scoring on runs of 1, 3 and 9 yards.
“He has wheels,” Martinez said. “People don’t realize that he can take off and run when he needs to. They changed their defense, so he was able to take advantage of it, and he was able to get some yards and be effective.
“He likes to mix it up; he’s scrappy. Whenever he can stick his head in there and lay the wood to somebody, he’s going to do it. He did that a couple of times (Saturday night), and the outcome was really good for us.”
Medlock was excited afterward at being able to show what the team was capable of doing.
“Every game is a big key to a team – especially with new guys,” he said. “We bought in, we’re coming more as a family, and this is huge for us.
“For us to play how we did (Saturday) was very impressive, and I was very happy with how we did. Right now, it’s do or die for us, and we’ve got to win out.”
After such a satisfying performance, Medlock could afford to chuckle afterward about his lone interception – to 290-pound lineman Maquis George.
“I’m only mad at myself because I threw a pick – and to a D-lineman,” he said. “It happens, but I take very hard determination on that; I’m very hard on myself, I don’t like throwing interceptions, because that’s how you lose games. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt us.”
Even Martinez could grudgingly accept that lone blemish.
“For him to have only four interceptions at this point is pretty amazing,” Martinez said.
The Force spotted the Law an early touchdown, then Medlock connected with D.A. Allen and Brett Soft for scores of 12 and 2 yards. The Law would tie it on a 50-yard kickoff return – one of two Dodge City had in the game – but then three straight Wichita touchdowns gave the Force a lead it would not relinquish.
Soft, the former Butler Community College standout, was Medlock’s favorite target on the night, hauling in 10 passes for 91 yards and touchdowns of 2, 5 and 26 yards.
“We just needed to come out here and prove we were still the team that we were last year,” Soft said. “Coming out her and putting up 91 points and putting on a performance for these fans makes for a great team win.”
Each time the Law would try to get back in the game, the Force had an answer.
One answer came when Keenen Gibbs recovered a Law fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and a 34-14 lead.
Another time, it was another former Butler standout, Force veteran Kendrick Harper, who snagged an onside kick try and took it 11 yards for a score that gave Wichita an 85-51 lead.
“I felt like we were in control from the start, which is not something I could say all season,” Martinez said. “We would have it, then we would lose it. But (Saturday), we had it from the start, we kept it through the middle and kept it strong at the end.”
The Force return to action next Friday against Salina at Intrust Bank Arena.
Force 91, Dodge City 51
Dodge City 14 18 6 13 – 51
Wichita 21 37 13 20 – 91
DC – Phillips 6 pass from Johnson (Wood kick)
W – Allen 12 pass from Medlock (Pray kick)
W – Soft 2 pass from Medlock (Pray kick)
DC – Dudley 50 kickoff return (Wood kick)
W – Medlock 1 run (Pray kick)
W – Cl. Anderson 9 pass from Medlock (kick blocked)
W – Gibbs recovered fumble in end zone (Pray kick)
DC – Phillips 3 run (kick blocked)
W – Medlock 3 run (Pray kick)
DC – Venson 37 pass from Johnson (Wood kick)
W – Pray 21 FG
DC – Venson 2 pass from Johnson (pass failed)
W – Soft 5 pass from Medlock (Pray kick)
W – Soft 26 pass from Medlock (Pray kick)
W – Medlock 9 run (kick failed)
DC – Scott 17 pass from Jackson (pass failed)
W – Ch. Anderson 8 pass from Medlock (Pray kick)
W – Ch. Anderson 37 pass from Medlock (Pray kick)
DC – Scott 50 kickoff return (Wood kick)
DC – Johnson 15 pass from Johnson (pass failed)
W – Harper 11 kickoff return (Pray kick)
W – Batts 1 run (kick failed)
RUSHING: Dodge City: Johnson 4-5, McKinney 1-4, A. Jackson 1-0, Phillips 5-(minus 2). Wichita: Medlock 13-20, Allen 1-15, Batts 5-10, Cl. Anderson 1-4, Ch. Anderson 1-0.
PASSING: Dodge City: Johnson 15-24-0-215, A. Jackson 10-18-0-105. Wichita: Medlock 28-36-1-261.
RECEIVING: Dodge City: Deadwiller 8-106, Scott 4-82, Venson 5-56, McKinney 3-36, Philips 4-30, W. Jackson 1-9. Wichita: Soft 10-91, Ch. Anderson 5-72, Allen 4-55, Batts 5-25, Cl. Anderson 3-18, Medlock 1-0.