Quarterback Luke Barnes’ Blue Dragon debut was a memorable one. Head coach Rion Rhoades move up another rung on the coaching ladder. And the Hutchinson Community College football team rolled up more impressive offensive numbers in front of a big season-opening crowd and a statewide television audience on Saturday night at Gowans Stadium.
No. 10 Hutchinson trailed twice in the first quarter, but caught fire with 41 points in the middle two periods to defeat No. 17 Coffeyville 58-26 in the Cox Kickoff Classic. Hutchinson (1-0, 1-0 Jayhawk Conference) won its fifth-straight season opener and sixth-straight home opener. HCC has defeated Coffeyville four-straight times and in 5 of the last 6 meetings.
Rhoades won his 36th game as the Blue Dragons’ head coach, tying Bill Goldsmith for third place on the Hutchinson coaching wins list.
Barnes threw for a Blue Dragon single-game passing record 459 yards, completing 28 of 38 passes with five touchdowns. The passing record had belonged to Greg Meinzer, who threw for 443 yards in the 2005 season opener at Dodge City. Barnes, who transferred to HCC after redshirting at Troy University, hasn’t played in a game in 22 months.
Barnes accounted for six total touchdowns, rushing for one score on a first-quarter bootleg.
Two of the biggest beneficiaries of Barnes’ big night were receivers Miguel Johns and Jatavius Stewart.
Johns established new career marks with nine receptions for 174 yards, two touchdowns and a long reception of 67 yards. Stewart, who moved into the Blue Dragon career Top 10s in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, had eight catches for a career-high 149 yards. He had two touchdown catches in a game for the third time in his career. He also established a new career high with 230 all-purpose yards (149 receiving, 75 return yards, 6 rushing yards.)
Despite having four big negative plays in the game, the Blue Dragons still amassed 616 total yards, gaining 470 yards in the air and 470 yards on the ground. Hutchinson’s 58 points against Coffeyville were the most against the Ravens in series history. HCC held the ball for 15 minutes longer than did Coffeyville.
Sophomore running back Terrell Lane ran for a career-high 134 yards on 22 carries.
Sophomore kicker Michael Mesh had a career-best 16 points on Saturday night with and broke the 100-point scoring mark for his career with 101 points. He is just six points shy of reaching the career top 10. Mesh kicked three field goals of 36, a career-long 39 and 23 yards. It’s the first time he kicked three field goals in one game and he’s the first HCC kicker to boot at least three field goals since Kevin Coleman kicked five in the 2004 Heart of Texas Bowl.
Defensively, the Blue Dragons were stung early by Coffeyville quarterback A.J. Derby, who completed 13 of 43 passes for 248 yards. Derby completed 4 of his first 6 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown as Coffeyville had first-quarter leads of 3-0 and 10-7. Even though the Blue Dragons didn’t sack him, they got pressure on Derby, who completed 9 of his final 37 passes for a touchdown and one interception.
Coffeyville had 285 total yards, only 37 coming via the rushing attack on 21 carries. The Red Ravens (0-1, 0-1) were held to 2 of 17 on third-down conversions and 1 of 4 on fourth down.
The lead changed hands three different times in the first 19 minutes of the game. HCC led 7-3 after Barnes’ 1-yard bootleg in the first quarter. The Ravens stung the HCC secondary when Dominique Reed caught a 72-yard touchdown strike for a 10-7 lead with 6:34 to play. Mesh kicked a 36-yard field goal to tie the game and then knocked a field goal home from a career-best 39 yards with 11:21 to play in the second to give HCC a 13-10 lead.
The Dragons caught a break when Brandon Oakes recovered a loose ball in the end zone on an errant Coffeyville punt snap for a 20-10 lead. The Red Ravens strong right back as Reed took the ensuing kickoff, scrambled around before finding some open space and then galloped 98 yards for a touchdown, the longest kickoff return ever allowed by the Blue Dragons. HCC led 20-17with 10:06 left in the half.
The teams then traded second-quarter field goals before Stewart hauled in a 50-yard TD strike from Barnes to five Hutchinson a 30-20 lead with 1:06 to play in the half.
Hutchinson outscored Coffeyville 28-7 in the second half to break the game open. Barnes threw four TD passes in the second half – a screen pass to LaQua Mayes, who weaved his way through traffic for a score, an 11-yard fade to Stewart and scoring strikes of 67 and 24 yards to Johns.
The Blue Dragons hit the road next Saturday when they travel to Corsicana, Texas to take on No. 12-ranked Navarro College.
GAME NOTES: HCC improves to 22-54-4 all time vs. Coffeyville. … The Blue Dragons are now 4-3 in televised games. … HCC is now 56-23-2 in home openers, 12-2 in games since 2000. …HCC is now 45-34-2 in season openers. … The Blue Dragons are now 10-13 against ranked opponents in the Rion Rhoades era. … Jatavius Stewart is now tied with Jack Morris (1968-69) with eighth place on the career receptions list with 55. He is up to eighth in career receiving yards with 898 yards; He tied Angelo Pease for 10th on the career touchdowns list.
(By Steve Carpenter, HCC Sports Information Director)