By Taylor Eldridge
Hutch looks to have locked this game up now up 35-14. Hutch took advantage of a short field and scored on a Deveon Dinwiddie 12-yard run. He has 10 runs for 175 yards, but that last run might have been his most impressive. He was wrapped up by three defenders it looked like for a short gain, but he somehow wiggled himself out of the tackle and ran in for the score. That has to be devastating for Gardner.
Gardner’s next drive was doomed from the start. Hutch squibbed it and GE took it, but ran backward and was tackled by Ben Heeney on its own 9. Three runs resulted in nothing and the punt was shanked. Now its Hutch ball on the GE 15 looking to put this game away.
Gardner’s first drive ends on a deep pass that was intercepted by Hutch’s James Jones. The Salt Hawks take advantage a few plays later when Deveon Dinwiddie takes a toss out left for a 59-yard touchdown run. It’s Hutch 28-14.
I was definitely impressed by Gardner-Edgerton. Its defense has stopped Josh Smith (48 yards on 5.3 average) from reaching his second gear, but its struggled finding a way to slow down Deveon Dinwiddie (106 yards on 15.1 average) on sweeps and end-arounds. The defense is stuffing the run up the middle and the 206 rushing yards for Hutch is a little deceptive to how well Gardner is playing right now.
Offensively, they can move the ball on Hutch no doubt. They had an interesting formation where Starling is 7-yards deep with three backs virtually leading the way blocking for him. He can also pass out of that formation and burned Hutch over the top to Justice Berry (3 catches for 106 yards) a few times. What we saw right before half though was Hutchinson’s ability to sniff out the play-action pass and getting to Starling.
Hutch right now still has control of the game. They have a 7-point lead and the offense has responded well to Gardner striking early for the 14-7 lead. This first drive of the second half might be critical. If Gardner scores, it’s a game. If Hutch gets the stop and turns around and scores, it could be over.
With about 30 seconds left in the half, Hutch called another play-action fake, which was guarded closely in man coverage. Bell took advantage by scrambling out to the left and beat most of the second wave of defenders down the sideline for a 44-yard run down to the GE 31. Then he was hit a little bit late, so that put the ball on the 16 with 22 seconds left. Hutch called the same play the next time, and Bell tried to force it into triple coverage to Geneo Grissom in the end zone and was picked off. So a flurry of action the last minute of the half, but no points.
Gardner gets a nice return out to the 42. First play Starling goes over the top to Berry again. James Jones had nice coverage, but made a poor adjustment and lost the ball and Berry caught it for a 44-yard gain down to the Hutch 14. Three runs were stuffed though and posed with a 4th-and-4 at the HHS 8 with 39 seconds left, GE went for it. Keep in mind, they get the ball back the second half. Anyways, Starling fakes a handoff, but Geneo Grissom sniffed it out and sacked him for a 17-yard loss to the HHS 25.
Hutch starts to get back with its running game tempo. 7 runs for 30 yards and then on 3rd and 8, Hutch fakes to Smith and Bell goes over the top to Deveon Dinwiddie, who was wide open behind the defense, for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Bell fakes the run on the 2-point conversion, and dives in for a 21-14 lead.
Gardner gets one first down, then stalls. Punts, but Dinwiddie muffed the punt at midfield. GE got the big play the next play with a 33-yard pass from Starling to Berry. But three plays later, Starling makes a poor decision on a pass and its picked off by Hutch’s James Jones.
Hutchinson, or Deveon Dinwiddie, responds quickly. On 3rd play of the drive, Dinwiddie took an inside counter and made one defender miss at midfield and outraced all the defenders to the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown. Hutch misses the extra point, so its 14-13.
First play of the quarter, Hutch brings the blitz but Starling avoids the pressure and buys time running to the outside. Hutch secondary was in a bad position and Starling made them pay by finding Jensen wide open in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown. 6 play drive for a 14-7 Gardner lead.
Gardner’s drive starts with a fourth down conversion from Starling. Instead of taking the snap under center for a sneak on 4th and inches, Starling lined up 7 yards deep and got a head of steam. He picked up 3 on the play and got it, still. Gardner is driving right now at the HHS 32. GE definitely has the momentum right now.
Hutch’s next drive give GE a huge momentum push. 3 runs, 0 yards. GE ball back at midfield.
Gardner responds with a 11-play drive with three key 3rd down conversions to tie the score at 7 in the first. Great drive by Gardner, which converted on 3rd downs on 17 and 16. Starling finds Justice Berry on a corner route in the end zone for the touchdown for a 29-yard touchdown on 3rd and 17. Starling has 32 yards rushing and 49 passing on first drive.
Hutchinson takes its first drive and moves right down the field. 7 runs for 65 yards and was capped by a 12-yard Josh Smith touchdown run up the middle. Hutch establishes its run game early. Now Gardner gets to respond.
Hutch wins and elects to receive. Now that’s a confident team. Dreiling wanting to make a statement early that Hutch can score on the GE defense.
Checking in here with 44 minutes to go before kick off at the Class 5A championship here at Emporia State University. The field here is really cool, sort of set beneath the ground with some nice hills surrounding the stadium. Good setting on a great day for football.
If you want play-by-play updates for this game, feel free to follow me on Twitter here or at @teldridge24. Or I will try to update on here as much as possible.
Let the fun begin.