BLUE DRAGON FOOTBALL
No. 1 Hutchinson (2-0) at No. 7 Iowa Western (1-1)
When: Saturday, September 7, 2019
Hutchinson CC Sports Information
For the first time in the 88-year history of Hutchinson Community College football, the Blue Dragons go into a game ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA Rankings.
The only team of the NJCAA Preseason Top 6 to not suffer a loss, the 2-0 Blue Dragons begin a three-game September gauntlet of ranked teams on Saturday with No. 7 Iowa Western.
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Lewis Central High School's Titan Stadium in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The Blue Dragons enter this key non-conference matchup coming off a 31-21 victory over Independence last Saturday at Gowans Stadium. The Dragons raced out to a 17-0 halftime lead, but withstood two major Pirate third-quarter advances to win their Jayhawk Conference opener.
Sophomore quarterback Mark Wright, who was named the KJCCC Offensive Player of the Week, accounted for 354 total yards against the Pirates. He threw four touchdown passes and rushed for 160 yards on 27 carries to become the first Blue Dragon quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game since Bryant Johnson in 2008.
Defensively, the Blue Dragons forced four Independence turnovers.
Iowa Western, the preseason No. 2 team in the NJCAA Rankings, suffered a 28-26 loss to Iowa Central last Saturday in Fort Dodge. The Reivers trailed 28-20 midway through the fourth quarter, but completed an 11-play, 80 scoring drive with 2:54 to play. The Reivers' two-point conversion attempt missed. IWCC never got the ball back.
Before this week's first-ever No. 1 national ranking, the highest Blue Dragon football has ever reached in the NJCAA rankings was No. 2 in 2010. That ranking lasted four weeks.
Saturday's meeting with Iowa Western marks the fourth time in the seven-game series that both teams are ranked in the NJCAA Top 20. Last season, the Reivers were No. 2 and Hutch was No. 11. In 2014, IWCC was No. 2 and the Blue Dragons were No. 4.
The Blue Dragons look for their first-ever win in Council Bluffs. Two years ago, the Dragons thought it has taken the lead in the final seconds. B.J. Emmons scored a touchdown, but it was wiped out by a penalty and with the 10-second runoff, the Dragons never got another chance to score in a 27-21 loss. Last season at Gowans Stadium, the Blue Dragons fell to Iowa Western 33-24.
Blue Dragon head coach Rion Rhoades continues to inch closer to 100 career wins as a KJCCC head coach. Now 98-53, last week's win over Independence moved Rhoades - who is in his 13th season with the Blue Dragons after a one-year stint at Fort Scott - into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time KJCCC Coaching Wins list, breaking a tie with former Blue Dragon head coach John Matous. Next on the KJCCC list is another former Hutchinson coach, Charles Sesher is third with 115 victories.