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No. 1 Dragons Rally to Top No. 2 Reivers


By Hutchinson CC Sports Information


HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Hosting the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup since 2010, the top-ranked Hutchinson Community College football team rallied from a 14-point second-quarter deficit to topple No. 2 Iowa Western 42-28 on Saturday at Gowans Stadium.

The Blue Dragons complete the regular season undefeated at 10-0 for the second-straight season. The announcement for the NJCAA National Semifinals will be on Monday, November 20. Iowa Western is 10-1. No. 3 Kilgore defeated New Mexico Military in overtime on Saturday. No. 4 Copiah-Lincoln defeated Northwest Mississippi 48-14 on Saturday.

Hutchinson faced first-half deficits of 13-0 and 21-7. The Blue Dragons got a huge momentum-changing play with 1:02 left in the first half when Daniel Brown‘s sack/fumble was recovered by Walter Bob Jr. at the Iowa Western 23-yard line. Two plays later, Samari Collier found Oran Singleton with a 31-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds to play in the period. Hutchinson trailed 21-14 at halftime.

That touchdown sparked a run of 28-unanswered points by the Blue Dragons, which was capped by Waymond Jordan Jr.‘s 16-yard touchdown run with 9:46 to play in the fourth quarter which gave Hutchinson a 35-21 lead.

The rally from a 14-point deficit tied for the largest comeback in Blue Dragon history under head coach Drew Dallas. The Blue Dragons also rallied from 14 points down to Snow College in the 2020/21 national championship game and from 14-points down last season against Iowa Central.

The Blue Dragons outgained Iowa Western 419-314 and controlled the ball for 36 minutes, 56 seconds. Iowa Western had a 135-36 advantage after one quarter with 119 rushing yards in the first 15 minutes. Hutchinson turned those numbers around, outgaining the Reivers 353-139 over the final three quarters. Iowa Western had just 16 rushing yards in the final three quarters while the Dragons had 293 yards on the ground, including 189 yards in the fourth quarter alone.

Brandon Epton Jr. led the Blue Dragons with a career-high 122 rushing yards on 13 carries. He had a 55-yard touchdown run that gave the Blue Dragons a 28-21 lead with 14:05 to play in the fourth quarter.

Jordan had only four carries, but ran for career highs of 99 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan had touchdowns of 16 and 47 yards. The 47-yarder gave Hutchinson a 42-28 lead with 5:47 to play in the game.

Tyrell Reed Jr. had his NJCAA-leading 12th rushing touchdown, a 3-yard run in the second quarter which were Hutchinson’s first points of the game. Reed had 80 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Collier completed 8 of 17 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown.

Singleton had a season-high five receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Brown raised his nation-leading quarterback sack total to 17.5 with two sacks. Brown is now alone in second place on Hutchinson’s season quarterback sacks list, trailing only Troy West’s 19 sacks in 1996. K’Von Sherman was the first Blue Dragon defender this season to reach double figures in tackles with a career-high 10. Sherman had three tackles for loss, including 2.5 quarterback sacks.

Iowa Western scored on its second-drive of the game when Jonathan Humpal capped a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown with 7:16 left in the opening quarter for a 7-0 lead. The Reivers scored on their next drive when quarterback Hunter Watson stung the Dragons for a 68-yard touchdown run. Bob Jr. blocked the extra point and Iowa Western led 13-0 with 4:15 to play in the first quarter.

The Blue Dragons got on the board after a 12-play, 69-yard drive where the Dragons converted twice on third down and once on fourth down. Reed’s 3-yard touchdown run with 13:20 to play in the second quarter cut the Reiver lead to 13-7. Iowa Western stopped a Hutchinson march to the IWCC 31, but an interception halted that advance. Two possessions later, the Reivers took a 21-7 lead on a Humpal 3-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion with 5:05 to play in the second quarter.

Another Dragon possession stalled and IWCC took over at the 20 after a touchback on Stefaan Forbes‘ 42-yard punt. Four plays into the drive was Brown’s sack/fumble that was recovered by Bob Jr. at the IWCC 23. After Collier was sacked for an 8-yard loss on first down, Collier found Singleton in the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown reception with 46 seconds to play, cutting the Reiver lead to 21-14 at halftime.

The Blue Dragons tied the game with the only points of the third quarter. Collier had an 8-yard touchdown run that completed an eight-play, 50-yard drive with 45 seconds to play in the third quarter, knotting the score at 21-21.

After forcing an Iowa Western punt on the next possession, Epton stung the Reivers with a dazzling 55-yard touchdown run on the second play of the possession to give the Dragons their first lead at 28-21 with 14:49 to play in the fourth quarter. Iowa Western punted on its next possession to the Hutchinson 48. The Blue Dragons navigated the 52 yards on five plays and Hutchinson built a 14-point lead (35-21) after Jordan’s 16-yard touchdown run with 9:46 to go in the final quarter.

Iowa Western immediately made it a one-possession game on a 70-yard Watson touchdown pass to Nate Sullivan, cutting the Dragon lead to 35-28 with 9:03 to play. The Dragons struck right back with Jordan’s season-long 47-yard run for a touchdown gave Hutchinson a 42-28 lead with 5:47 remaining.

GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are now 17-2 under Drew Dallas against NJCAA-ranked opponents and 13-2 against Top 10 opponents. … Now with 17.5 career sacks, Daniel Brown moved past Tim Waddleston into seventh place on the career sacks list. … This was Hutchinson’s five 10-0 start to a season, joining the 1947, 1948, 1969 and 2022 teams. … This was Hutchinson’s fourth comeback win in the Drew Dallas era after trailing by 10 or more points. … The Dragons tied a season high with seven third-down conversions, tying the Navarro and Iowa Central games.