COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Blue Dragons escape Reivers

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Blue Dragons escape Reivers

Austin Heinen

No. 4 Iowa Western saw an 11-point lead disappear in the final eight minutes of the game as No. 1 Hutchinson rallied back to hand the Reivers their second straight defeat 29-28.

All looked well after the Reivers took a 28-17 lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Blue Dragons fired back as a 70-yard touchdown run and blocked punt helped the Dragons stun the Reivers at Titan Stadium in Council Bluffs.

“Those are two really good teams,” Strohmeier said. “Both sides made some really big plays and they made the last big play. Still proud of the way these kids played, we fought and this was just a classic battle of two really good football teams going at it.”

The Reivers marched their opening drive to the end zone as quarterback Aiden Niedens ran in the first score of the game from 14 yards out. But the Blue Dragons answered with a 67-yard pass play on third down to knot the game up at 7-7.

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Hutchinson then held the Reiver offense on their second drive and marched to tack on three more points to take a 10-7 lead with just under six minutes to play in the first quarter. That lead didn’t last long as Jaden Koger ran the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to put the Reivers back in front 14-10.

The scoring slowed down in the second quarter as the only points came off a 76-yard pass which came right after a missed 42-yard field goal try from the Reivers, giving the Dragons a 17-14 lead at the break.

The third quarter was a defensive slugfest again, but the Reivers broke through early in the third quarter as James Graham connected to LJ Fitzpatrick on a 61-yard pass to put Iowa Western back in front 21-17.

The Reiver extended their lead to 28-17 after a long drive was capped off with a four-yard run by Koger with 8:34 left to play.

Koger led the Reiver with 122 yards rushing on 21 carries and had two total touchdowns on the day.

But the Dragons would not go away. Dylan Kedzior broke loose for a 70-yard touchdown run to bring Hutch back within a score. Finally, with 2:42 left to play, the Blue Dragons, special teams blocked a punt and returned it to the end zone to steal the season finale.

“This is what it comes down to when it’s a battle of two really good teams,” Strohmeier said. “It sometimes comes down to who makes the last big play, we were hoping to get the last punch when we got the ball with four minutes to go, but we didn’t, we gave them life and they blocked the punt. Hats off to them, they kept making plays.”

After ending the season with back-to-back losses, the Reivers now wait and see if they can still squeak into the playoffs. But now all the Reivers can do is wait.

“We just have to wait and see,” Strohmeier said. “There’s a lot of things that can happen. I hope they see our body of work, not just these last two games, but we’ll see.”

The loss snaps a 12-game win streak at home for the Reivers. Iowa Western ends the regular season with a record of 8-2.

Hutchinson (10-0) 10 7 0 12 – 29

Iowa Western (8-2) 14 0 7 7 – 28


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