HUTCHINSON, Kan. — In cloudy, rainy conditions Saturday afternoon at Gowans Stadium, Sebastian Garcia kicked the first game-winner of his career — at any level.
With just 15 seconds left, Garcia connected on a 37-yard field goal to give the No. 5 Blue Dragons (6-1, 4-0) a 16-13 victory over the No. 13 Highland Scotties (4-2, 2-2).
“I just took it back to basics,” Garcia said of the pressure kick:
It was the first game-winner of his career, not only as a Blue Dragon, but since he’s been playing the game of football. Garcia said the next-closest thing in his career was a kick he made just before the half of one game.
Garcia misfired from 49 yards out earlier in the game. “I just pushed it right,” he said. Garcia placed sole blame on himself.
An extra-point attempt midway through the third quarter also went awry for the Blue Dragons. The snap from Dylan Chesterman slipped through the grasp of Marquis Whitmire. Those two missed opportunities in the game were not on Garcia’s mind when lining up the game-winner:
To say the events leading up to Garcia’s game-winner were bizarre would be an understatement.
Ahead 13-6 with 3:22 left in the contest, Hutchinson’s defense forced Highland into a 4th-and-long. While the Scotties sent their punt team onto the field to give the ball back to the Blue Dragons, a flag flew from the sideline.
It was the second unsportsmanlike penalty of the game on Dragon head coach Rion Rhoades. Not only did the 15-yard penalty give Highland new life with a first down, but Rhoades was ejected from the contest. He had to leave the facility and his team with just over three minutes to play.
Highland made the most of its new opportunity. Kevin Brown broke off a 64-yard run to put the Scotties 2 yards away from pay dirt. After a timeout, quarterback Avery McCall punched the ball into the end zone. With 1:55 left, the game was tied at 13.
After the game, Rhoades was very apologetic for what happened:
When players in the Jayhawk Conference receive two unsportsmanlike penalties in a game, they miss playing time. Players are usually suspended one full game.
What does that mean for coach Rion Rhoades when the Blue Dragons travel to Coffeyville next week?
“I don’t know,” Rhoades said. “I’ve never been in this situation so I really don’t have any idea how it works.”
Rhoades apologized to his team after the game.
He had high praise for the way his team responded:
For the second game in a row, and the third time this season, Dezmon Jackson carried the ball for over 100 yards. He finished the day with 167 yards on 26 touches. Jackson scored once.
Jonathan White also carried for a TD and 59 yards. On the game-winning drive, White left the game with an ankle injury. Coach Rhoades said White had been battling a sprained ankle. On the play, he sprained his good ankle.
Jackson and White have been carrying the load for a Blue Dragon rushing attack that is missing sophomore transfer Erin Collins. Collins rushed for over 100 yards in each of his first two games as a Dragon, then sustained an injury in pregame before Hutchinson faced then-No. 2 Iowa Western.
Rhoades says the outlook is good for Collins to return at some point this season:
FINAL: Hutchinson 16 Highland 13
Hutchinson finished with 341 total yards of offense to Highland’s 190. The Dragon defense held the Scotties to 94 yards on the ground and 96 yards through the air.
The Dragons stopped the Scotties on a key goal-line play late in the game.
Mason Schucker finished 11 of 25 passing for 128 yards. He was pressured constantly in the pocket and fumbled three times. He lost two of those fumbles.
Highland’s Kevin Brown finished with 92 yards on the ground. Sixty-four of those yards came on the game-tying drive when Brown galloped to the Blue Dragon 2.
Hutchinson is on the road next week to face Coffeyville (2-4, 1-3). The Red Ravens dropped a one-point decision to Dodge City Saturday.
FULL POSTGAME WITH RION RHOADES: