It doesn’t matter what an opponent’s record is, any time you can shut out another team it was a good night on defense. And when you can do it in front of your fans on Homecoming, that’s just the cherry on top.

The Tigers routed the Big Lake Hornets for a 31-0 win Friday night, improving to 5-1 overall while the Hornets fell to 0-6 this season. Despite a winless record, Big Lake made things interesting at the start of the game, especially in the first quarter with a blocked punt that gave them good field position. But Hutch’s defense held on strong and the Hornets rarely came close to the end zone.

“We had a rough first half, and then it was all a mental game in the second half,” Hutchinson’s A.J. Ladwig said. “We were coming harder, faster, getting louder and hyping each other up. That’s all it came down to.”

Hutchinson’s offense got off to a fast start thanks to an early interception by Charlie Renner. Renner had to juggle the tipped pass and came up with the catch under his legs before returning it to Big Lake’s 25-yard line.

“Dylan (Wigern) tipped it, so it was low to the ground, bounced off my hands and it was on my leg” Renner recalled. “As soon as I had it I knew I had caught it, but I thought the refs were going to call it off because they thought it hit the ground.”

No such thing happened with the refs, however, and the Tigers quickly took advantage as Levi Teetzel rushed the ball in for a touchdown on Hutch’s first offensive play of the game.

As Hutch’s defense stifled the Hornets, the offense took some time getting rolling. Big Lake was ready to stop the run, and the Tigers’ passing game was ineffective. Quarterback Colin Nagel was 0-4 in the air.

After Big Lake blocked a punt on Hutch’s second offensive drive, the Tigers stuffed them on fourth down to take the ball back on downs. They then proceeded to run the ball with a mix of rushers including Nagel, Teetzel, Ladwig, Mitchell Piehl and others. Hutchinson eventually wore out the Hornets and finished with 336 yards on the ground.

Ladwig and Teetzel each scored in the second quarter, Ladwig added another TD in the third quarter, as did Nagel.

In a change from the past five games, Hutchinson tried to kick field goals after each of its touchdowns rather than attempt two-point conversions. The change comes after Hutchinson was 1-for-6 in two-point conversions against Becker and Rocori the past two weeks. Kicker Andy Prieve was 1-for-5 Friday.

The Tigers have two more games left in the regular season and were rated No. 3 in the state according to the Oct. 6 rankings. They’ll hit the road Friday to take on their old rival Delano at 7 p.m., and then they play Chisago Lakes at home 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, in their final game of the regular season.

Hutchinson 31, Big Lake 0 (Oct. 8)

Big Lake … 0 0 0 0

Hutchinson … 6 13 12 0

First Quarter

H—Levi Teetzel 25 run (kick fail)

Second Quarter

H—A.J. Ladwig 6 run (kick fail)

H—Teetzel 2 run (Andy Prieve kick)

Third Quarter

H—Ladwig 4 run (kick fail)

H—Nagel 1 run (kick fail)

Fourth Quarter

No points

Team stats

Rushing — Hutch: 45-336

Passing yards — Hutch: 0-0

Total offense — Hutch: 336

Individual stats

Passing: Colin Nagel 0/4-0-0-1

Rushing: Alex Elliott 2-20, Mitchell Piehl 3-27, Teetzel 14-136, Nagel 6-21, Ladwig 14-119, Carter Verhasselt 2-6, Manny Pearce 4-7

Receiving: No catches

Tackles: Alex Elliott 9, Grant Ketcher 4, Dylan Wigern 4, Brady Anderson 2, Logan Hoppe 3, Aaron Elliott 3, Piehl 3, Teetzel 1, Kyle Schumann 1, Devon Verhasselt 2, Carter Verhasselt 1, Sam Starke 2, Gavin Hutchins 1, Charlie Renner 1, Riley Gill 1, Caelan Butler 1, Jay Rickertson 1, Prieve 1, Ladwig 1, Andrew Lipke 1, Andrew Soderlund 1, Sam Hanson 1

Fumbles recovered: Ketcher 1, Rickertson 1

Interceptions: Renner 1