By Sam Ojeda
It was a breezy Saturday at Gowens Stadium in the NJCAA game of the year between the top-ranked Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons and the No. 2 Iowa Western Reivers. After a dominant rushing performance and enough stops on defense, the Blue Dragons came out on top, winning 42-28.
The win avenged last year’s NJCAA championship game when Iowa Western shut out Hutchinson in Little Rock, Ark.
Iowa Western came out hot. The Reivers led 13-0 after the first quarter ended. They would hold that lead until the fourth quarter. The Blue Dragons took the lead on a 55-yard touchdown run by Brandon Epton. The finishing blows would come via Waymond Jordan with his two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Dragon rush attack pounded 297 rushing yards, which is the most given up by Iowa Western this season. HutchCC had three running backs with over 80 yards rushing.
Epton, Jordan and Tyrell Reed bring different looks and styles to the running game.
“We know how good we really are,” Jordan said. “None of us have the chance to get worn down.”
It was a slow grind to get that rushing attack going. They were shut down by the Reivers rush attack and speed on the defensive side. The only adjustment the coaches saw for the second half was to play harder.
“We had to go harder, that is all they told us,” Jordan said.
Blue Dragons coach Drew Dallas spoke highly of the offensive rush attack in the victory.
“297 yards rushing against a team that is very hard to run the ball against is impressive.” His guys were able to come out on top because they were not scared of the physical Iowa Western team, “The physicality we played with allowed us to win a lot of battles,” Dallas said. “Our guys did a great job in the second half being consistent and creating those explosive plays.”
The 42 points put up by the Blue Dragons is the most put up against Iowa Western since 2016. Oran Singleton had a good game receiving with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown for the Blue Dragons. On defense, Daniel Brown continued to impress with two quarterback sacks and two tackles for loss.
HutchCC, the only undefeated team left in the NJCAA, will surely be the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA playoffs coming up in three weeks and there is a good chance for a rematch between these two teams in the NJCAA National Championship. There is one more week left in the regular season before the final poll and four playoff teams are announced.