The Hutchinson Community College football team finally comes home after three weeks away from Gowans Stadium as the No. 12-ranked Blue Dragons play host to Air Force Prep in a non-conference battle at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The Blue Dragons have won three in a row since losing at Navarro College on Sept. 1. After a frenetic victory at Garden City on Sept. 8, the Blue Dragons have posted a pair of decisive victories over Dodge City and Highland with a bye week sandwiched in between those victories.
The Blue Dragons have not been home since that 45-10 victory over Dodge City on September 15. This will be only the third home game of the season for Hutchinson, which will play three times at Gowans Stadium in the month of October, playing host to Independence next Saturday and Butler on October 27.
Hutchinson earned a 49-12 victory last week at Highland, getting a fifth-straight 100-yard rushing game by Terrell Lane, Antonio Johnson caught 10 passes and scored a pair of touchdowns and Miguel Johns ran a punt back 54 yards for a touchdown to help the Blue Dragons pull into a tie for first place in the Jayhawk Conference with Butler.
Air Force Prep comes into Saturday’s game smarting a bit after a 49-6 loss at No. 3 Butler last Saturday night. The Huskies are 0-5 after losing to New Mexico Military, the Air Force junior varsity, Coffeyville, Garden City and Butler.
Regardless of Air Force Prep’s current record, the Blue Dragon sophomores remember what happened on a Friday afternoon last year at the Air Force Academy. The Huskies took advantage of three Blue Dragon fumbles and routed Hutchinson 40-7 in a game where the Dragons just seems out of sync from the opening kickoff.
The Blue Dragons trailed 7-0, but tied the game, only to see the Huskies score two more touchdowns before halftime and reel off 33 unanswered points.
While HCC’s offense continues to rank among the nation’s best, the Blue Dragon defense has made steady improvement over the last two games.
For the season, HCC is allowing 30.2 points and 373.2 yards per game. Over the last two games, the Blue Dragons have surrendered an average of 11.0 points and 207.5 yards per game. Against Highland, HCC allowed a season-low 111 passing yards and held an opponent to less than 60 rushing yards for the third time this season.
Hutchinson: Rion Rhoades is in his sixth season with the Blue Dragons. His HCC record is 39-21 in his sixth season at Hutchinson and is 46-26 in seven overall seasons. On Sept. 8 against Garden City, Rhoades surpassed Bill Goldsmith for third place on the HCC coaching wins list.
Air Force Prep: Captain Justin Handley is in his first season as head coach of the Huskies.
About the Blue Dragons
Offense: The numbers continue to pile up for the Blue Dragon offense in 2012. HCC has the individual passing and rushing leader and the No. 3 total offense and No. 4 scoring offense in the NJCAA.
Freshman Luke Barnes is completing 63.7 percent of his passes (135 of 212) for 1,676 yards. He has throws 19 touchdown passes to two interceptions. Barnes has completed at least 15 passes to five different receivers this season.
Sophomore Antonio Johnson, coming off a career-high 10-reception, 118-yard game last week against Highland, has team highs with 38 catches, 441 yards and seven touchdowns. Sophomore Jatavius Stewart, who didn’t play last week against Highland because of injury, has 29 receptions for 423 yards and five scores. Sophomore Miguel Johns has 24 catches for 424 yards and three TDs.
Lane has posted five-straight 100-yard games this season, coming off a 123-yard, three-touchdown game last week against Highland. Lane now has 792 yards on 128 carries. He is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has eight rushing touchdowns.
Freshman Orange Mooney has been solid over the last two games. He is now averaging 38 yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry.
The Blue Dragons are averaging 49.8 points per game, 28.4 first downs, 200.4 rushing yards, 349.8 passing yards and 550.2 total yards per game.
Four different Blue Dragons are averaging 104 or more all-purpose yards this season. Lane averages 176.6 yards per game, Stewart averages 152.0, Johns averages 111.6 and Johnson averages 104.6 all-purpose yards per game.
Defense: After three rough outings to start the season, the Blue Dragon defense has shown tremendous improvement in victories over Dodge City and Highland.
In HCC’s first three games, the defense was stung for averages of 43.0 points, 212.0 rushing yards and 271.7 passing yards per game. Over the last two games, the Blue Dragons have surrendered averages of 11.0 points, 52.5 rushing yards, 165.0 passing yards and 217.5 total yards per game.
Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell has 48 total tackles to lead Hutchinson. Linebacker Kenny Flowers has 39 and linebacker Aaron Jackson had 33 tackles. HCC will be bolstered defensively this week with the addition of linebacker Antonio Longino to the roster.
Freshman cornerback Terell Hannah has 23 total tackles, seven passes defended or broken up, three interception and two fumble recoveries.
Sophomore Carnell Simon has team highs of 3.5 quarterback sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
Special Teams: Michael Mesh is off to a sizzling start to his sophomore season. In five games, Mesh has totaled 49 points to move into fourth place on the HCC career scoring list. He is 28 of 30 on extra points and is 7 of 8 on field goals, knocking through a career-long 43-yarder against Navarro on Sept. 1.
Mesh has already surpassed his FG total of last season and is 11 of 15 in his career.
Terrell Lane and Luke Barnes are splitting the punting chores. Lane is averaging 44.8 yards per boot and Barnes is averaging 36.8 yards per punt.
Four different Blue Dragons are averaging better than 20 yards per kickoff return. Jatavius Stewart leads at 23.5 yards per return with a long of 62 yards. Kody Cook is averaging 21.8 yards per return and Antonio Johnson is averaging 20.5 yards per return and Johns is averaging 21.7 per return.
Johns has one punt return for a touchdown and leads at 21.7 yards per punt return.
About the Huskies
Air Force Prep is a unique foe for the Blue Dragons and other Jayhawk Conference teams to prepare for each season.
Air Force Prep completely turns its roster over each season. Secondly, the Huskies tend to run the Air Force Academy’s triple-option offense, which requires great discipline for an opposing defense. But there have been years, the Huskies have ran more of a pro-style attack and thrown the ball very efficiently.
The 2012 Air Force Prep football team enters Saturday’s game against Hutchinson at 0-5. The Huskies lost 34-24 at New Mexico Military to open the season on Aug. 25. Since then, the Huskies have lost to the Air Force Junior Varsity (no score available), Coffeyville, 29-23; Garden City, 47-21 and Butler, 49-6.
In the three games against Jayhawk Conference opponents, the Huskies offensively are averaging 106.7 rushing yards and 168.3 passing yards. Defensively, Air Force Prep is allowing 196.3 rushing yards and 236.7 passing yards per game.
This is the 29th meeting all-time between Hutchinson and Air Force Prep in a series that dates back to 1981. The Blue Dragons lead the series 18-10.
Hutchinson leads the series in games played at Gowans Stadium 9-3 and the series is tied at 7-7 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Air Force Prep won last year’s game, 40-7, at the Air Force Academy.
+ HCC FOOTBALL ALL-TIME: The Blue Dragons have an all-time football record of 434-316-28 in their 81st year of football. HCC is 306-234-18 in Jayhawk Conference games.
+ BLUE DRAGONS IN THE NJCAA POLL: The Blue Dragons are ranked 12th in the NJCAA football poll this week. HCC football has been ranked in 34 consecutive and 43 of the last 45 NJCAA football polls.
+ HCC VS. RANKED FOES: Hutchinson is now 11-14 against NJCAA-ranked competition under Rion Rhoades. Previous, HCC dropped 22 of 23 to ranked teams.
+ HIGH-SCORING DRAGONS: In the last 40 games, Hutchinson has broken the 50-point mark 15 times. The Dragons have broken the 60-point mark nine times, the 70-point mark three times and own the modern-day single-game scoring record of 90 points, scored against Highland last season.
+ HCC IN THE RED ZONE: Last week against Highland, the Blue Dragons missed on a Red Zone scoring opportunity for the first time all season. HCC is now 20 of 21 in the Red Zone, scoring 15 touchdowns.
+ JOHNSON DOUBLES UP THRICE: Sophomore receiver Antonio Johnson scored two receiving touchdowns last week against Highland. That was the third-straight game Johnson has had two receiving touchdowns.
+ LANE HITTING CENTURY MARK: Running back Terrell Lane has five-straight 100-yard rushing games this season. Lane had one 100-yard game as a freshman.
+ DRAGONS ENJOY HOME COOKING: Since the start of 2008, the Blue Dragons have a 22-3 record at Gowans Stadium.
(HCC Sports Information)