Dragons take care of business against Indy
Mark Wright had 354 total yards and threw for four touchdowns as the No. 5-ranked Hutchinson Community College football team won its ninth-consecutive home opener on Saturday.
The Blue Dragons survived a rough third quarter to hold off Independence, 31-21, at Gowans Stadium.
The Blue Dragons improve to 2-0 and are 1-0 in the Jayhawk Conference. Independence falls to 1-1 (1-1 KJCCC).
Wright became the first Blue Dragon quarterback in 11 seasons to rush for 100 yards in a game; going for a game-high 160 yards on 27 carries. The last Blue Dragon quarterback to rush for 100 yards was Bryant Johnson (123 yards) on Oct. 11, 2008 against Coffeyville at Gowans Stadium.
Wright completed 16 of 27 passes for 194 yards with four touchdown passes against the Pirates. Wright is the first Dragon quarterback to throw at least four touchdown passes in a game since last season when Mason Schucker threw four against the Greyhounds.
Wright hit three different receivers for touchdowns. Karim Brown caught scoring passes 10 and 27 yards. Mitch Tinsley caught a touchdown pass for a second-straight game with a 25-yarder from Wright. Craig Burt started the day off with a spectacular 29-yard touchdown catch in the right corner of the end zone.
Tinlsey caught a career-high seven passes for 72 yards. Brown had five catches for 74 yards.
Trey Coleman rushed for 82yards on 16 carries. Kendall Cross had 10 carries for 28 yards.
Defensively, the Blue Dragons had four takeaways against Independence, including three interceptions off Indy quarterback Stephon Brown, the reigning KJCCC Offensive Player of the Week.
Ronald Brown had two interceptions and Jakorian Bennett had the other. Dionte Gipson had a fumble recovery on a bad snap.
Lavar Gardner had 12 total tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
Offensively, the Blue Dragons racked up 33 first downs and 484 total yards. The Dragons rushed for 290 yards and passes for 194. The Pirates had 341 total yards (189 rushing, 152 passing). The Dragons possessed the ball for 38 minutes, 14 seconds.
Hutchinson survived two first-quarter turnovers to take a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes. A partial punt by Art Green step up Hutch’s first scoring drive. Wright connected with Burt for a sensational catch in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 11:11 to play in the opening quarter.
The Blue Dragons tacked on 10 points in the second quarter. Brown caught a 10-yard pass from Wright with 8:39 to play in the quarter for a 14-0 lead. Sebastian Garcia kicked a 19-yard field goal with 5:27 to go for a 17-0 Blue Dragon lead, which was the halftime score.
Independence was held to 120 total yards in the opening half. That changed in the third quarter as Brown led three Pirate scoring drives and pulled within three points twice in the third frame.
Wright connected with Raekwon Heath for a 39-yard touchdown pass to cut the Dragon lead to 17-7 with 12:35 to go in the third. That duo connected again 3 minutes later, again from 39 yards to cut the Hutchinson lead to 17-14 with 9:06 to play.
The Dragons responded with a 13-play scoring drive that covered 74 yards. The final 27 came on a touchdown grab by Brown. Independence responded with a 92-yard kickoff return to set up 2-yard touchdown run and the Dragon lead was 24-14. A 92-yard kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff set up Brown’s 2-yard plunge to cut the Dragon lead to 24-21 with 2:27 remaining in the quarter.
Again, Hutchinson responded with a six-play, 75-yard scoring march that was capped by a Tinsley 25-yard scoring grab from Wright with 37 seconds to play in the third. Hutch led 31-21 after three quarters.
Independence had 149 total yards in the third quarter.
With the Pirates driving, Brown intercepted his second pass of the game in the middle stages of the fourth quarter, which silenced Indy’s comeback bid.
GAME NOTES – Blue Dragon head coach Rion Rhoades is now alone in fourth on the Jayhawk Conference coaching wins list with his 98th, his 91st as the Blue Dragon head coach. … The Dragons are now 55-23-5 all-time against Independence, the most wins against any opponent in team history. Hutch is 33-9-2 at home against the Pirates. … The Dragons are now 52-24-2 in home openers.