Hutchinson Escapes With Win over Air Force Prep

With sophomore quarterback Robert Coates on the sidelines after being injured last weekend, HCC running backs Leonard Brice and Brian Roulhac, along with the entire defense, carried the load in a ground attack reminiscent to the glory days of football. Brice rushed for a season-high 153 yards and Roulhac had a career-high 114 yards to lead No. 19 Hutchinson to a 21-7 victory over Air Force Prep at Gowans Stadium.

"I liked it a lot," said Brice, who moved onto all-time HCC rushing list on Saturday night. "Coach put the ball in the running backs' hands and the offensive line's hands and told us to make it happen.

"It was our turn to step up in this game like the quarterbacks, the receivers and the defense has all season."

It's the second-straight season Hutchinson has started 4-1. The rest of the regular-season has road games at No. 2 Butler and Dodge City and homecoming against Garden City in three weeks.

In a stark contrast of offensive styles from the Dragons' normal wide-open, multiple-receiver offense of the past two seasons, HCC had a season-high 230 yards rushing on 62 carries and threw the ball only twice, completing one.

Freshman quarterback Jared Doke made his first career start on Saturday and the Blue Dragon coaches kept the offense simple. Pound the ball with Brice and Roulhac, who combined to touch the ball on 57 of Hutch's 64 offensive plays.

"I can't say enough about how our offensive line played and how Jared Doke stepped in for Robert," HCC head coach Craig Jersild said. "The way Roulhac and Leonard ran the ball tonight, it was outstanding offensively."

It was the first time that two HCC running backs both rushed for 100 yards in a game since Renard Douglass and Brian Thomas did it against Fort Scott in 1999.

Brice jumped three spots on the HCC all-time rushing list, moving past Chico Harris (1993), Thomas (1999-2000) and Dave Wassenburg (1969) into ninth place with 1,317 yards.

"We hope to show teams that we are two-dimensional," said Roulhac, who rushed for a pair of touchdowns. "If they are going to key on the pass, we are going to run it down their throat and if they key on the run, we are going to throw it all over the place. It's good that we have two dimensions."

The Dragons cashed in early on the Huskies' misfortunes after a blocked punt set HCC up at the Prep 18. Three plays later, Brice scored from 1 yard out to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead with 11:33 left in the quarter.

Hutch then turned a Prep turnover into a Roulhac 2-yard plunge that capped off a nine-play, 42-yard drive for a 14-0 lead with 4:29 left in the first quarter. Another Roulhac touchdown, this one from 5 yards out with 12:16 remaining in the second quarter, upped the HCC margin to 21-0.

"The offensive line did a great job tonight," Roulhac said. "We wouldn't have gotten any points on the board tonight if it weren't for those guys."

Added Brice: "The line threw some great blocks to give me and Roulhac a chance to make it happen out there. The offensive line was the reason we won the game."

The Dragons were looking to tack on a fourth touchdown, but instead of trying a field goal on fourth-and-short from the Prep 3, they went for it and didn't convert. That play and a change at quarterback to elusive Charles Roberson gave the Huskies a spark.

An 85-yard completion from Roberson to Spencer Armstrong got the Huskies out of a deep hole and two plays later Roberson quarterback sneaked it in for a touchdown with 6:13 left in the first half.

That was the only score the Dragon defense gave up, but there were some tense moments.

Two blocked punts and a fumble recovery helped HCC build its 21-point lead. Then the Dragon defense made it stand with two second-half goal-line stands to keep the Huskies two scores away.

"We really played well early defensively, then we fell into a little lull," Jersild said. "We gave up a couple of long passes that hurt us, but those goal-line stands were huge. It was great to see us bow our necks and stop them down there like that."

Air Force Prep's triple-option offense gave the Dragons some tough times on Saturday. The Huskies ran for 160 yards, but the play-action passes stung Hutch even worse. Armstrong completed just 4 of 10 passes, but for 158 yards.

Still the Dragons made the stops when they had to.

"A lot of us were banged up after the Coffeyville game and we weren't really mentally prepared for this game," HCC linebacker David Dixon said. "After we settled down and realized we had to do our thing, we were just our regular defense.

"When we got our backs against the wall like we did, it just brought us closer together."

The Dragons now get their chance to play No. 2 Butler Community College. The Dragons haven't defeated the Grizzlies since 1997, a streak of eight-straight losses. Butler defeated Coffeyville at Coffeyville 31-29 on Saturday night.


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