By Ben Short / Sports Editor
The Hutchinson Community College football team advanced to 10-0 last Saturday and will host a NJCAA playoff semifinal now after the win, but that doesn’t tell the story of how crazy Saturday was.
The top-ranked Blue Dragons pulled off a slim victory at Iowa Western, 29-28, after a blocked punt to go ahead late. JJ Hamilton broke loose and got a hand on the punt and Jaimelle Claytor picked it up and returned it for the game winning score.
“It started with Coach (Andrew) Krause believing in me and getting me on the field. He tells me I have a high motor,” Hamilton said. “He put me on punt force to be able to make plays off the edge to attack the block point … I dialed in and took it seriously.”
Without the blocked punt, there might be a different story to tell. Iowa Western may have won and vaulted to No. 1 in the rankings. Thus, you could imagine the emotions running high in the end zone after the block and score. Hamilton talks about the end zone frenzy.
“It was a good time everyone celebrating,” Hamilton said. “It felt like a long run especially when we got to the sideline everyone there booting us up. I just wanted to catch my breath. I’m really proud of the punt force unit. We’ve just been waiting on our time to make a play .”
Emotions run high on every big play and that makes people wonder, before that play did they know what it meant for their title hopes, season or winning the game?
“In the moment, it was all about making a play, giving it my all,” Hamilton said. “I knew if I blocked or even interrupted the punt our offense would have good field possession to work with and score, but when the ball hit my hand and I had seen Jaimelle with the ball that’s what we needed. The team had enough trust with our defense going back out and securing the game. Winning that game was just one step closer to the title. I’m glad I could contribute. The job is not done.”
The Blue Dragons have punched their ticket to the postseason with a number one seed and will be fighting for their second national title in three seasons.