By Sam Ojeda
Sports Editor

The Hutchinson Community College football team used the ground attack and a stellar defense to dominate the unranked Ellsworth Panthers 72-7 on Saturday at Gowans Stadium.

The Blue Dragons came out firing on all cylinders. 

The week one starting quarterback for Hutch, Samari Collier, was out this week due to an injury he received in practice. That meant it was time for redshirt freshman James Parker to take his first collegiate snaps. Parker sat behind current Missouri quarterback and former Blue Dragon Dylan Liable last season. He said he used the knowledge he gained to have an efficient day passing. The Cartersville, Georgia product was 11 for 18 through the air with 84 yards passing. Parker had two touchdowns, one in the air and one on the ground. 

Parker was ready to play because of the offseason battle.

“I have been fighting for a spot so I have always been ready just in case,” Parker said.

Parker did well in his first collegiate action but he knows there is room for improvement.

Blue Dragons coach Drew Dallas was impressed with his on-the-spot starter.

“He operated it well, for the most part, I thought he did a good job of operating our offense,” Dallas said.

It is important early in the season to get all of the guys reps and Parker was able to do that today.

Having a new quarterback start is less nervy when you get the running game going. The offense pounded the ball on the ground. The Blue Dragons racked up 441 rushing yards. That number impressed Dallas and knew it was key in taking the pressure off Parker.

“Obviously it helps when you get the running game going,” Dallas said.

Tyrell Reed Jr. was the leading rusher with 171 yards on nine carries. Amaris Shaw added 141 yards on 16 carries. 

Another highlight from Saturday’s game was the Blue Dragon defense. Until the fourth quarter, the Panthers were limited to negative-33 total yards and zero points. By the time the clock hit 0:00, the Panthers had negative 53 rushing yards and 52 total offensive yards.

Ian Matthews led the way for Hutch’s defense with eight tackles and two tackles for loss. The defense combined for 15 TFLs and seven sacks. 

Dallas said he knew it was important to get into the backfield because of what it can do to an opposing team’s offense.

“When your offense is constantly playing behind the chains and getting put into tough situations of third down it makes it hard,” Dallas said.

The speed and energy from the defense tonight were consistent throughout.

“The defense came flying around. They played extremely hard and their pursuit of the football was second to none,” Dallas said.

The only issue for the Blue Dragons was the penalties. They had 10 penalties for 122 yards. Although it did not hurt them much today, against a tougher competition it could prove to be costly.

“I think it is a lack of ultimate focus,” Dallas said. “It is not between the eyes, it is between the ears.”

This Saturday, the Blue Dragons travel to Fort Dodge, Iowa to take on ninth-ranked Iowa Central at Dodger Stadium. Iowa Central will likely move up in the rankings after beating No. 5 Garden City.

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