FORT SCOTT – The No. 12 Hutchinson Community College football team gave Fort Scott a steady dose of defense, special teams and running back Terrell Lane to earn a 37-14 Jayhawk Conference victory on Saturday afternoon at Frary Field.
Hutchinson (7-1, 6-0 Jayhawk Conference) won its sixth-straight game this season. Now the Blue Dragons have a much-anticipated showdown with No. 2 Butler next Saturday at Gowans Stadium for the Jayhawk Conference championship.
With the offense sputtering at times against the Greyhounds on Saturday, the Blue Dragon defense played a huge role in the victory.
The Blue Dragon defense tied a season high with four interceptions and had six total takeaways. The defense directly accounted for eight points when sophomore linebacker Kenny Flowers tackled Fort Scott running back Stanley Hagen in the end zone for a safety and freshman linebacker De’Vondre Campbell intercepted a pass and returned in 34 yards for a touchdown.
The defense also had the biggest stop of the game in the second quarter with Fort Scott having all the momentum and the game tied at 7-all. After the Greyhounds blocked a punt and took over at the Hutch 25, the Blue Dragons kept them out of the end zone and forced a field goal from 32 yards that was blocked by Brandon Oakes.
The Blue Dragons clamped down on Hagen, the nation’s third-leading rusher coming into Saturday. Hagen had just 41 yards rushing on 20 carries. For the game, Fort Scott (3-5, 3-4) had 259 total yards with 109 yards coming in the first quarter and only 59 yards in the middle two quarters.
Hutchinson’s special teams had two blocked kicks. In addition to Oakes’ blocked field goal, Kody Cook blocked a punt that LaQua Mayes returned 25 yards for HCC’s first score of the game.
And then there was Lane, who accounted for two offensive touchdowns and kept pinning Fort Scott deep in its own territory as a punter. Lane averaged 37 yards per punt on eight punts, placing three punts inside the 20-yard line, including one at the Greyhound 1 that led to the Flowers’ safety.
Offensively, Lane had his third career 200-yard game of the season, going for 220 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown. Lane also threw for a score, connecting with Cook, who made a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone, for a 22-yard score on a halfback pass in the second quarter.
The NJCAA’s leading rusher with his eighth-consecutive 100-yard, Lane now ranks third on HCC’s single-season rushing list with 1,374 yards and ranked fifth on the career list with 1,835 yards.
For the first time this season, the Blue Dragon offense didn’t fire on all cylinders. Hutchinson had a season-low 310 yards of total offense, netting just 18 yards after the first quarter.
HCC quarterback Luke Barnes was sacked a season-high seven times. He completed 14 of 25 passes for a season-low 98 yards. He was intercepted once, but did throw his nation-leading 31st touchdown pass of the season.
The Blue Dragons took a 7-0 lead on Cook’s blocked punt that was returned by Mayes from 25 yards out with 10:45 to play in the opening quarter. Two Fort Scott possessions later, the Greyhounds marched 79 yards in 10 plays and tied the game on an 11-yard Owen Jordan-to-Courtney Ward touchdown pass with 2:45 to play in the quarter.
Fort Scott continued to build momentum and had HCC on the ropes when a Lane punt was blocked, giving the Greyhounds the ball at the HCC 25. A bizarre series ensued as Fort Scott kept the drive with two first downs via Hutchinson penalties and got to the 5-yard line. With the help of a Fort Scott holding penalty, the Dragons pushed the Greyhounds back to the 14 and forced a 32-yard field goal and Oakes blocked it.
Two Fort Scott possessions later, Christian Goodlett intercepted his third pass of the season at the HCC 40. The Dragons finally got the offense going and capped off the scoring drive with Lane’s 22-yard halfback pass to Cook. HCC led 13-7 after Michael Mesh’s PAT was blocked.
On HCC’s next possession, the Dragons were forced to punt and Lane pinned Fort Scott at its own 1-yard one. On the first play of the Greyhound possession, Flowers hit Hagen in the end zone for a safety and a 15-7 lead with 4:35 to go in the second quarter.
HCC had just one first down on its first three possessions of the third quarter, but on its fourth possession the Dragons had short field, starting at the Greyhound 42. After that, three Lane runs of 28, 12 and a 2-yard burst into the end zone gave HCC a 22-7 lead with 3:20 to play in the third.
Two plays later, Campbell picked off Owen Jordan and traveled 34 yards for a touchdown and a 29-7 lead with 2:06 to play in the third quarter.
Fort Scott used a halfback pass from Hagen to Terrence Hoskin from 36 yards out for a touchdown to pull within 29-14 with 13:08 to go in the fourth quarter.
Fort Scott’s sixth turnovers of the game, a fumble recovered by Najahaun Tipton-Wylie at the Fort Scott 18, set up HCC’s final score. The Dragons needed five plays to cover the distance and Barnes capped off the scoring drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Miguel Johns with 7:01 to play. The extra-point try was blocked, but the ball bounced right to Mesh, who ran it in for a two-point conversion.
The Blue Dragons will meet Butler at 7 p.m. next Saturday at Gowans Stadium.
GAME NOTES – Luke Barnes is now tied for second place on HCC’s single-season passing list with 2,473 and is third in single-season total offense with 2,466 yards. … Miguel Johns is tied with Kyle Roberts for fourth on the career receptions list with 76. Johns and Antonio Johnson are tied for 10th with 657 yards. … Johnson is tied for fourth on the single-season list with 52. … HCC’s defense also had season highs of 13 passes broken up and 10 quarterback hurries. … Christian Goodlett and Shattle Fenteng both had their third interceptions, while De’Vonte Campbell and Dominique Terrell both had their first interceptions. … HCC won its third-straight over Fort Scott and is 36-32-1 vs. the Greyhounds.
(HCC Sports Information)