GODDARD — The one constant this season for the Salina Central Mustangs keeps dragging them down.
"Again, consistency," Central coach Mark Sandbo said after watching an early two-touchdown lead evaporate in the second quarter Friday night as the Mustangs fell, 36-18, to Goddard at Goddard District Stadium. "We did some really good things, but we didn't make anything of a couple of opportunities before halftime, and that hurt us.
"We talk about consistency and playing clean, and that just hasn't happened for us in 2020."
With the loss, Central fell to 1-6 overall and 1-5 in Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II, while Goddard improved to 6-1 and 4-1.
The Mustangs took a 12-0 lead on touchdown runs of 18 yards by Kenyon McMillan in the first quarter and 1 yard by Micah Moore three plays into the second. But those came after they squandered a golden opportunity to start the game.
On Goddard's first play from scrimmage after receiving the opening kickoff, Central recovered a fumble at the Lions' 17-yard line and got to the 15 before losing 3 yards on a running play and 12 more on a sack. An incomplete pass on fourth down left the Mustangs with nothing to show for it.
After Goddard grabbed a 15-12 lead on touchdown passes of 15 and 32 yards from Kyler Semrad to Jake Shope, the Mustangs threatened to go back in front with a first down on the Lion 11, only to throw four straight incomplete passes.
To make matters worse, Goddard took over with 1:04 on the clock and drove 89 yards in six plays, capped by a third Semrad-to-Shope scoring play, this one covering 18 yards. The Lions led 22-12 at the half.
"He's terrific," Sandbo said of Shope, who finished with 11 catches for 199 yards, including the three second-quarter touchdowns. "They do a good job of moving him around and do a lot of good things to get him the ball.
"And the Semrad kid is really good, too. He threw some terrific balls and also continued plays with his legs."
Semrad completed 16 of 24 passes for 253 yards and four scores — the final one was a 4-yarder to Soren Carr on the first possession of the second half — and tacked on a 19-yard rushing touchdown with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
Central answered the touchdown pass to Carr with a quick scoring drive of its own, capped by a 61-yard pass play from Parker Kavanagh to Dakota. Hogan broke a tackle at the Goddard 45 and ran untouched the rest of the way.
The Mustangs then blew another opportunity when they recovered an onside kick at the Goddard 47, only to shoot themselves in the foot with a 15-yard personal foul penalty and a 14-yard sack. Following a short punt into the wind, the Lions took over and went 41 yards in six plays for what proved to be the game's final score.
Another Mustang scoring chance went by the boards with 5:56 left in the game, when they lost a fumble on first and goal at the Goddard 3-yard line.
"That was a big one," Sandbo said. "It feels like the turnover bug gets us every time.
"Even when we don't (throw an interception), we put it on the deck. We've just got to continue to coach them up."
While Goddard amassed 416 yards total offense, Central finished with 325 — 178 passing and 147 on the ground. Kavanagh completed 13 of 27 passes and the one touchdown, while Hogan had three catches for 72 yards.
Moore had 74 rushing yards and McMillan 72.
The Mustangs return to Salina Stadium next Friday to face rival Salina South.