HUTCHINSON -- Despite a better-than-anticipated performance through three quarters, Fort Scott Community College's football team finds itself in seventh place in the Jayhawk Conference as No. 3 Hutchinson scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to take a 35-10 victory Saturday night.
The Greyhounds (1-4 Jayhawk, 1-5 overall) trailed just 14-10 four seconds into the fourth after Drew Russell booted a 25-yard field goal.
But backup tailback Jamal Womble, who got the bulk of the carries after the first quarter, scored on a pair of short touchdown runs in less than 5 minutes and a defensive score sealed the victory for the Blue Dragons (3-0, 5-0). Hutch moved into a tie for second place with Coffeyville, both of whom are a half-game behind Butler (4-0, 6-0), which hasn't yet had its bye.
No. 2-ranked Butler won at Garden City, 35-12, while No. 4 Coffeyville led Air Force Prep just 6-3 at the half then had to survive a second-half shootout to prevail, 32-23.
It's very likely that the Jayhawk Conference will be home to the nation's top three teams as of Wednesday morning as No. 1 Mississippi Gulf Coast lost to unranked Pearl River in overtime, 30-27, Thursday night.
Fort Scott starting quarterback Blaine Dalton did not make the trip to Hutchinson but the reason for the decision was not stated. Spenser Bennett, who drew his first collegiate start the week before as he and Dalton rotated series, got the nod again. Jonathan Walker was also given the start at tailback over Nick Woods.
Hutchinson scored first on a 2-yard run by starting tailback Angelo Pease with 4:33 to go in the first quarter. The run capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Although Pease got the score, Womble appeared in the middle of that drive and was responsible for 35 yards on 4 carries.
The Greyhounds got their first score when they got a second chance as Cas Spangler muffed a punt and Matt Bollig recovered it at the Hutchinson 41-yard line. Walker carried on all five plays of the ensuing drive, rolling in from 28 yards out with 4:16 to go.
Davon Coleman blocked a Hutch punt late in the half to give the 'Hounds another chance with 2:38 to go in the half. But a personal foul after the recovery moved the ball from the Dragon's 28, where it had been recovered, back to the 42. Fort Scott was only able to gain 2 yards and Bennett threw an incomplete pass on fourth-an-8.
At halftime, although Hutchinson had a better-balanced attack, the numbers were nearly even. Hutchinson had 100 yards
of total offense while Fort Scott had 93.
The Dragons claimed the lead when quarterback Elliott Alford found receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in stride for a 79-yard touchdown pass with 9:34 to go in the third.
Russell's field goal was set up when FSCC defensive end Melvin Payne recovered a Womble fumble at the Hutchinson 34 late in the third period. The 'Hounds moved on Walker's rushing to the 3-yard line where they had a fourth-and-1. They were set to go for the first down and maybe a tying TD but got called for delay of game and had to settle for the field goal.
Patterson fielded the kickoff and returned it 58 yards to put Hutch at the Fort Scott 36. Womble gained 25 yards on the first play, 3 on the second and the remaining 8 to find the end zone and increase Hutch's lead to 21-10 with 13:36 left in the contest.
Darren Miles intercepted a Bennett pass later in the period and returned it 41 yards to the Fort Scott 32. Alford found Patterson for 29 yards on the first play and Womble found the end zone again from 2 yards out two plays later to make it 28-10 with 8:30 to go.
On the first play after the kickoff, Dragon defensive end Meshak Williams, one of the conference's best defensive players, intercepted a pitch on an option play and returned it for a touchdown from 26 yards out with 8:18 remaining.
Williams played the game with a cast on his right hand and it actually gave him a little trouble bringing in the football.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after that score allowed Fort Scott to take the ball at the Hutch 45 after the Blue Dragons kicked the ball out of bounds. But the 'Hounds could only advance 5 yards before Bennett threw incomplete on fourth-and-5.
Womble finished with 107 yards on 20 carries for Hutch. Alford completed 10 of 16 passes for 220 yards. Seven of those passes went to Patterson for 189 yards.
Walker finished with 97 yards on 27 carries for Fort Scott. Bennett completed only 5 of 19 passes for 31 yards after a 2-of-3, 20-yard start.
Fort Scott is not yet out of the Region VI Playoffs as the teams in fourth through seventh places are within 1 1/2 games of each other. Independence currently holds fourth at 2-2 in the KJCCC while Highland is fifth at 2-3 and Garden City is sixth at 1-3.
The Greyhounds host Air Force Prep in a non-conference game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Frary Field.
NOTES -- Punter Chase Tenpenny had his best night of the season, averaging 50.3 yards on 8 punts. He had two punts of 60 yards, one of 58 and one of 68....
Pease, who entered the contest second in the KJCCC in rushing at 113 yards per game, carried the ball 9 times for just 4 yards. He never touched the ball again after the 11-minute mark of the second quarter. Womble was third in the conference coming into the game and finished 4 yards over his average....
Hutch outgained Fort Scott 227 yards to 50 in the second half and 113-20 in the fourth quarter.....
Fort Scott was called for 6 penalties for 80 yards. But 4 of those penalties were personal fouls. Meanwhile Hutch was called for 9 penalties for 100 yards with 7 of those committed by the offense....