CORSICANA, Texas – The No. 10 Hutchinson Community College football team faced an uphill battle all night and never could quite get all the way over the top as No. 12 Navarro College defeated the Blue Dragons 54-34 on Saturday night in the seventh edition of the Jayhawk Conference-Southwest Junior College Football Conference challenge at Tiger Stadium.
Navarro (2-0) scored first and never let the Blue Dragons (1-1) tie or take a lead. The Bulldogs led by a two-score margin five different times throughout the game. HCC cut that margin to one possession on four different occasions, the final time at 41-34 with 9:33 to play in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs scored two late touchdowns – one on the final play of the game – to secure the margin of victory.
The Blue Dragons were bedeviled by Navarro big plays all game long. The Bulldogs amassed a whopping 617 yards of total offense, racking up 377 yards in the first half. Navarro struck for 23 plays of 10 or more yards (15 rushing, 8 passing) and were highly successful on third down, converting 11 of 17 opportunities.
The Blue Dragons continually fought back, racking up 367 total yards of offense without a turnover for the second-straight game. Hutchison passed for 275 yards and rushed for 92 yards, but racked up 22 first downs in the game.
Quarterback Luke Barnes completed 23 of 43 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Once again spreading the wealth around, Barnes connected with six different receivers, led by freshman Antonio Johnson, who had season highs of nine catches and 112 yards with one touchdown. Sophomore Kody Cook had a career-high five catches for 45 yards. Running back LaQua Mayes took another screen pass from Barnes and turned it into a touchdown, this time from 38 yards away.
HCC sophomore running back Terrell Lane had a busy night. He rushed for 100 yards for the second time this season, going for 104 yards on 29 carries, including a 19-yard touchdown run. Lane, who was the also the punter, ran a perfect throwback screen out of punt formation, completing a 29-yard gain to Devondre Campbell for a first down. Lane also broke a 42-year-old school record by averaging 48.6 yards per punt, the highest single-game punting average since Jack Morris in 1969.
Sophomore kicker Michael Mesh had another big game, scoring 10 points on four extra points and field goals of 23 and a career-long 43 yards. He jumped into the career scoring Top 10 with 111 points, which is now eighth.
In addition to his 29-yard catch on the fake punt, Campbell played huge for the Blue Dragons defensively. Campbell had 17 total tackles, one of three Blue Dragons with 10 or more tackles, including five solo stops. Linebacker Kenny Flowers had 11 tackles and a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown that got the Blue Dragons back into the second early in the second half. Dominique Terrell had 10 tackles. Shattle Fenteng had his first career interception in the first half.
Navarro had three players rush for better than 100 yards, but none more damaging than quarterback Darian Godfrey, who had 307 total yards (145 rushing yards, 162 passing yards) against the Blue Dragons himself. Running backs Traylon Shead rushed for 131 yards on 23 carries with three touchdowns. Tyler Middleton rushed for 131 yards on eight carries and two scores, one a 70-yard scamper around left end in the second quarter that proved to be a huge momentum swing in the game.
Hutchinson trailed 7-3 after one quarter, the only Blue Dragon points coming on a 19-play, 74-yard drive that culminated in Mesh’s 23-yard field goal to cut the Navarro lead to 7-3 with 3:43 to play in the opening quarter.
The second quarter was damaging to the Dragons’ chances as the Bulldogs outscored Hutchinson 20-10. Godfrey threw a 14-yard touchdown pass for a 14-3 Bulldog lead, but the Blue Dragons quickly answered with a five-play, 60-yard scoring drive that took just 2 minutes, 16 seconds. Mayes’ 38-yard catch and run on a screen pass from Barnes cut the deficit to 14-10.
After the teams traded possessions, Navarro struck quickly when Middleton dashed 70 yards around the left end for a touchdown for a 21-10 lead. Shead’s 22-yard burst for a touchdown with 2:14 to play made it 27-10 after the extra point was missed. Mesh’s career-long 43-yard field goal with 1:04 to play cut the Hutchinson deficit to 27-13, which was the halftime score.
The Dragons didn’t score on their first possession of the second half, but the defense put up a tally when Flowers picked up a Godfrey fumble at midfield and bolted 50-yards for a key momentum=changing touchdown. The Dragons trailed 27-20 with 12:05 to play in the third quarter.
HCC just couldn’t come up with a key defensive stop after that. Shead’s 8-yard scoring run capped an eight-play, 69-yard march to answer the Dragon defensive touchdown and gave Navarro a 34-20 lead with 9:52 to go in the third. HCC pulled back within one possession when the Dragons marched 95 yards in 16 plays to score when Johnson caught a 12-yard TD pass from Barnes to trim the Navarro lead to 34-27 after three quarters.
Navarro converted three big third downs on its next drive and Godfrey threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Jolly for a 41-27 lead with 11:29 to go. HCC answered quickly once again. Lane’s 19-yard blast up the middle for his first touchdown of the season capped a seven-play, 57-yard drive that took just 1:48 off the clock.
The Bulldogs put the game away with a 75-yard drive that took 10 plays on their next possession. Shead scored his third touchdown of the game with a 14-yard romp to put Navarro up 48-34 with 5:43 to go. HCC didn’t have answer for that score, turning the ball over on downs.
The Blue Dragons travel to Garden City for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
GAME NOTES – Hutchinson had its four-game winning streak on the KJCCC-SWJCFC Challenge snapped. … This was the first time Hutchinson and Navarro have played in football. … HCC is now 3-6 against teams from Texas. … Mesh now has 88 point-after touchdowns, four short of the career record held by Phillip Aguilar. … Mesh’s 43-yard field goal is the longest by a Blue Dragon since Jeremy Linn booted a 42-yarder against Butler in 2008. … The 88 combined points scored are 11th most in team history. … This is the first time HCC has allowed 50 or more points in a game since 2005 (66 games). … This is the first time since 2005 that HCC has allowed 400 or more rushing yards in a game. … Antonio Johnson is the third different receiver this season to have at least eight receptions and more than 100 yards in a game, joining Miguel Johns and Jatavius Stewart.
(HCC Sports Information)