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Hutchinson CC wins JuCo national title

First-year coach Drew Dallas led Hutch to its first national championship.

The longest season in college football history is now over.

What began back on Aug. 29, 2020 -- 281 days ago -- became complete on Saturday when Hutchinson CC out of Hutchinson, Kan., defeated Snow College of Utah to win the NJCAA national title. 

The meeting of No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams lived up to the billing. Snow jumped out to leads of 14-0 and 21-10 before the Blue Dragons of Hutchinson roared back. 

After starting quarterback Dylan Laible went 10-for-22 for 150 yards and an interception, Hutchinson put sophomore CJ Ogbonna in the game. He hit all five passes for 128 yards, while running back Tye Edwards earned game MVP honors by rushing 20 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns. 

"I already knew I was going to have to just push the team," Ogbonna told the Hutchinson News. "I just gave everybody a chance. I gave the receivers a chance, and we just found a spark."

After Hutchinson pulled within 14-10 at the half, Snow extended its lead to 21-10 when Badger running back Mekhi Kimble raced in from 11 yards out with just under five minutes to play in the third quarter. 

Hutchinson then ran off a game-deciding 19-0 run in less than 10 minutes, getting two Anwar Lewis touchdown runs and then what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown in a 1-yard plunge by Edwards. Snow answered with a 6-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, but Gabe Sweeten's 2-point pass failed. 

Snow College had the ball with a chance to win the game in the final two minutes, but linebacker Tre Pinkney snared an interception to seal the Blue Dragons' first title.

"We've had a lot of adversity, and we've fought back," Dallas said. "We made the most of the opportunity, and there's no doubt in my mind that tonight we earned that for these guys. Extremely proud of every one of one."

Hutchinson's win concludes its season at 8-0. It's the first time since 2016 a school outside Mississippi has won the NJCAA title, and it marks the third straight season in which the FBS, FCS, NAIA and NJCAA -- each of the champions crowned this season -- finished unbeaten.

And with that, the shortest layover between seasons is now underway. The 2021 campaign begins in 83 days.