Erin Collins runs for a game-high 126 yards in Hutchinson's 37-27 victory over No. 5 Independence on Saturday at Independence (Bre Rogers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
Erin Collins runs for a game-high 126 yards in Hutchinson's 37-27 victory over No. 5 Independence on Saturday at Independence (Bre Rogers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

INDEPENDENCE – The Hutchinson Community College football team defeated a Top 5 nationally ranked opponent for the first time in 23 years on Saturday night.

The Blue Dragons, who received votes into the preseason NJCAA rankings, built a 30-point halftime lead at Independence and held on to upset the No. 5-ranked Pirates 37-27 at Emmot Field.

Hutchinson defeats its highest-ranked opponent in the Rion Rhoades era and topples a Top 5 opponent since defeating No. 4 Garden City in the 1995 Jayhawk Conference Playoff Championship game.

Now 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the Jayhawk Conference, the Blue Dragons play host to No. 2 Iowa Western at Noon on Saturday in Gowans Stadium.

With the score tied at 7-all in the first quarter, the Blue Dragons exploded for 30-unanswered points over a stretch of 18 1/2 minutes in the opening half to build a 37-7 lead after a Monty Montgomery interception and lateral back to Kelvin Clemmons, who ran 40 yards for a touchdown with 2:17 to play in the second quarter.


Independence, the defending Jayhawk Conference champions, outscored Hutchinson 20-0 in the second half. The Dragons dodged one bullet by holding the Pirates to a missed field goal after a Dragon special teams' turnover in the fourth quarter and holding the Pirates on fourth down with 2:04 remaining in the game.

Sophomore running back Erin Collins had his second-straight 100-yard game of the season, going for a game-high 129 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries to lead Hutch to 201 rushing yards. Freshmen quarterback Mason Schucker completed 9 of 20 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Jaylen Erwin and Khalil McClain caught those touchdown passes. Erwin had two catches for 56 yards and a 26-yard touchdown reception, his second of the season. McClain had two receptions for 15 yards and a 12-yard scoring catch.

Hutchinson out-gained Independence 231-152 in the first half, but the Pirates turned the tables in the second half with 184 total yards to Hutch's 106.

The Blue Dragons forced two takeaways with interceptions from Montgomery and Josh Reliford. Hutch had six quarterback sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Indy was led by running back Corinthian Cunningham's 57 rushing yards on 17 carries. Back-up quarterback Antoine Wright was 12 of 21 for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 30 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Mariese King had five catches for 110 yards and a score.

Independence had 275 passing yards and 101 rushing yards.

The Blue Dragons took a 7-0 lead on their second possession of the game when Erwin caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Schucker to cap an eight-play, 49-yard score with 9:01 to play in the first quarter. Indy struck right back, covering 75 yards in three plays and tied the game after King's 38-yard touchdown reception from Chase Hildreth with 8:11 to go in the first quarter.

The Dragons immediately grabbed the lead right back on their next possession after Dezmon Jackson, who rushed for 40 yards on seven carries, broke loose for a 29-yard touchdown run and a 14-7 lead with 5:46 to play in the opening quarter.

Hutch took a 17-7 lead on Sebastian Garcia's 37-yard field goal with 13:37 to play in the second quarter. Two possessions later, the Dragons scored on back-to-back possessions.

Schucker tossed his second touchdown of the game to McClain from 12-yards out to finish off a six-play, 62-yard drive with 7:38 to play to make it 24-7. After holding Indy to a 3-and-out, the Pirates' punt snap went over the punter's head and was kicked out of the end zone. With the ball placed at the one, Collins scored on the next play to make us 30-7 with 6:47 to play in the opening half.

The defense jumped into the first-half scoring parade to close the first half. Montgomery deflected a Hildreth pass and secured it. As he was getting hit, he lateraled to Clemmons, who sprinted the final 40 yards for the final points of a 23-point period and a 37-7 Hutch lead.

The Pirates scored 13 points in the third quarter. After Indy's second TD of the period, Caliph Brice blocked the extra point and Clemmons returned it for an apparent defensive two-point conversion, but the Blue Dragons were called for holding on the return to take the points off the board. Hutch led 37-20 after three quarters.

GAME NOTES – This was Hutch head coach Rion Rhoades' fifth all-time win over a Top 10 team, the first since 2016 when the Dragons defeated Iowa Western. … Hutch is now 20-28 overall in the Rhoades' era against nationally ranked teams. Before Rhoades took over in 2007, the Dragons had one win in 23 games vs. ranked opponents. … The Dragons are 54-23-5 all-time vs. Independence, the most wins against any single opponent.