Snow College comes up just short in NJCAA title game loss to Hutchinson
Snow College lost for the first time this season in a matchup between two undefeated teams as Hutchinson (Kansas) found a second-half surge and won 29-27, capturing its first national championship.
Without star quarterback Garrison Beach for much of the second half, Snow College fell in the NJCAA national championship game on Saturday afternoon in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Badgers lost for the first time this season in a matchup between two undefeated teams as Hutchinson (Kansas) found a second-half surge and won 29-27, capturing its first national championship.
Snow had a 21-10 lead with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Earlier in the quarter, Beach — who had the most touchdown passes in the NJCAA this season — was injured, but backup quarterback Gabe Sweeten completed a 23-yard pass and had a 22-yard run to set up a 11-yard touchdown run from running back Mekhi Kimble to put the Badgers up 11 points.
After that drive, though, the Blue Dragons took control of the game.
Following the Badgers’ touchdown, Hutchinson responded with a 29-yard touchdown run by Anwar Lewis, then the Blue Dragons forced Snow to punt twice and capitalized with two more touchdowns — a 3-yard run by Anwar Lewis and a 1-yard run Tye Edwards, capping off drives of 89 yards and 45 yards, respectively.
At that point, Hutchinson had a 29-21 lead with seven minutes left.
Snow got within two points inside of five minutes to play, however, when Sweeten engineered a six-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard quarterback keeper touchdown.
However, the ensuing two-point conversion with 4:50 left in the contest, which would have tied the game, was no good as Sweeten’s pass wasn’t on target, and it was up to the Badgers’ top-ranked defense to give Snow one more shot.
The defense did just that, as Snow forced a Hutchinson punt, giving the Badgers the ball on the Badgers’ 11-yard-line with about a minute remaining. On the second play of the drive, however, a Sweeten pass was intercepted by Tre Pinkney, dashing any chance at a comeback and sending the Blue Dragons into a celebration.
Beach finished the game 11 of 16 for 185 yards passing and 42 yards rushing, throwing two touchdowns and one interception. Sweeten was 2-for-9 for 54 yards passing and 30 yards rushing. He rushed for one touchdown and threw an interception.
Beside missing the injured Beach, Snow also went 0-for-3 on field goals in the two-point game. Kicker Stockton Lund, who entered the game 8-for-10 on field goal attempts, missed from 49 and 31 yards out in the second quarter and 27 yards out in the third quarter.
Hutchinson quarterback Dylan Laible threw for 150 yards on 10-of-22 passing with an interception. CJ Ogbonna, who played in the second half, was a perfect 5-of-5 passing for 128 yards.
Blue Dragons running back Tye Edwards ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns and Lewis ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Snow dominated the first quarter, leading 14-3 after the opening period.
After forcing a 3-and-out by Hutchinson, Snow marched down the field on its first possession of the game, picking apart the Hutchinson defense to go up 7-0. The Badgers went 52 yards in eight plays, with Beach throwing a perfect 4-for-4 on the drive, which culminated in an 8-yard slant touchdown pass to Deuce Roberson.
Snow’s defense forced another 3-and-out, and this time it only took one play for the Badgers’ offense to hit paydirt as Beach found a wide-open Tejhuan Palmer down the right sideline for a 69-yard touchdown pass. Snow led 14-0 less than halfway through the first quarter.
Hutchinson scored for the first time on a CJ Moya field goal in the first quarter, then closed the gap to four by halftime courtesy of a 68-yard run by Edwards.