Salt City Bowl Offensive MVP Khalil McClain rushed for two long touchdowns and a game-high 185 yards in a 35-6 Hutchinson victory over Navarro on Saturday at Gowans Stadium. (Casey Bailey/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
Salt City Bowl Offensive MVP Khalil McClain rushed for two long touchdowns and a game-high 185 yards in a 35-6 Hutchinson victory over Navarro on Saturday at Gowans Stadium. (Casey Bailey/Blue Dragon Sports Information)

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

Freshman Khalil McClain made his first start as a quarterback on Saturday and turned in an MVP performance in the 2018 Salt City Bowl on Saturday.

McClain had two huge touchdown runs to lead the No. 13 Blue Dragons to a 35-6 victory over Navarro College in the 10th Annual Salt City Bowl, snapping a two-game losing streak,

The Blue Dragons finish 9-3, closing a season with at least nine victories for the 12th time in program history. It's the first nine-win season since 2014's 11-win campaign. Navarro closes with a 6-5 record.

McClain, who was named the Salt City Bowl's Offensive Most Valuable Player, hurt Navarro with his legs rushing for 185 yards on 17 carries, including touchdown runs of 72 and 65 yards. The 72-yard run, which gave Hutchinson a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, was a Salt City Bowl record for the longest run from scrimmage. Both of McClain's touchdown runs were one-play scoring drives.

McClain's performance, along with 136 yards from sophomore running back Dezmon Jackson, helped Hutchinson to a season-high 331 rushing yards on 50 attempts.

Freshman cornerback Art Green was named the Defensive MVP by becoming the fourth player in Salt City Bowl history with two interceptions in a single game.

Offensively, the Blue Dragons had 399 total yards, going only a combined 1 of 10 passing with an interception. But the one catch was huge as Rico Nix caught a short pass and ran for a Salt City Bowl record 68-yard touchdown pass from Mason Schucker in the second quarter.

Defensively, the Blue Dragons held Navarro, the NJCAA's No. 3 offense and No. 1 passing offense, to 161 passing yards and 198 total yards. Hutch's defense also forced four takeaways with Green's interceptions and fumble recoveries by Jalen Pinkney and Jahmard Morgan.

Hutchinson's first three touchdowns all came on big plays.

After missing a field goal on the first possession of the game, the Blue Dragons held Navarro on downs at the Hutch 28. On the first play of Hutch's second series, McClain worked his way into the open and ran for a 72-yard touchdown to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead with 3:40 to play in the opening period.

The Blue Dragons dodged a bullet after failing to convert a fake punt near midfield. But Green got the first of his two interceptions at the Dragon 18. Three plays later, Nix took a pass in the left flat and worked his way down the sideline, never going out of bounds, and sprinted his way to a 68-yard touchdown catch and run for a 14-0 lead with 13:05 to play in the second quarter.

Independence took advantage of the first of three Hutch turnovers, recovering a fumble at the Dragon 40. The Bulldogs finished off the three-play drive with a Jared Wyatt 28-yard touchdown pass from Parker McNeil. The point-after try was missed after the attempt was pushed back 15 yards because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Dragons led 14-6 with 1:40 to go in the half.

On Hutch's next offensive play, McClain broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run to take a 21-6 lead into halftime.

Both defenses dominated in the third quarter, scored two fourth quarter touchdowns – a 2-yard Jackson plunge into the end zone and a 1-yard Schucker quarterback sneak.

Hutchinson earned its first-ever victory over Navarro in three tries. The Bulldogs defeated the Blue Dragons in 2012 and 2013.

GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are now 12-7-1 all-time in bowl games, including 7-1 in the Salt City Bowl. … Navarro is now 13-6-1 all-time in bowl games. … Jackson finished his sophomore season with 1,192 yards, the 11th-best season in Hutchinson single-season history. … Green had his second two-interception game and finished with a team-high six interceptions for the season. … Head coach Rion Rhoades coached his fifth nine-win team in 12 seasons with the Blue Dragons. … The Blue Dragons close their 87th season of football with an all-time record of 484-343-28.