10/12/2014 Reivers Roll Past Independence
10/4/2014 Bender's big plays help Reivers roll
9/22/2014 Reivers roll Dodge City
9/7/2014 Reivers Battle Past Butler
8/27/2014 JV Schedule Released
5/9/2014 Reivers Moving On - Video
5/5/2014 Reivers "Blue vs White" Spring Game
2/24/2014 Reiver Football Spring Practice Schedule
1/30/2014 51 Reivers Named Academic All-Region
12/19/2013 Reiver Football - Campus Visit Dates
12/19/2013 Six Reivers Named NJCAA All-Americans
11/26/2013 20 Reivers Named MFC All-Conference
11/3/2013 Reivers Capture Another MFC Title
Reivers Win National Championship
Tony Boone, firstname.lastname@example.org
CEDAR FALLS - Iowa Western is no longer a fledgling football program.
Now, it's the nation's best at the junior college level.
The top-ranked Reivers capped their fourth season of football by claiming the NJCAA championship Sunday with a 27-7 victory over No. 2 Butler, Kan., in the Graphic Edge Bowl at the UNI-Dome.
Iowa Western (12-0) weathered a defensive struggle in the first half, then scored 24 consecutive points to finish its unbeaten campaign with its 12th convincing victory.
"I'm just so proud of our kids," IWCC coach Scott Strohmeier said. "They fought and fought. It didn't come easy, by no means. That's the way they've been all year. They're a determined group."
The defenses dominated early in a matchup that featured offenses that combined to average more than 1,100 yards and 114 points per game during the regular season.
The six-time NJCAA champion Grizzlies (11-1) sacked Reiver quarterback Jake Waters five times in the first half, but they were limited to 85 total yards before the break by an equally-stubborn IWCC defense.
Iowa Western finally broke through with a 53-yard drive late in the second quarter for the game's first points. Waters raced in a 6-yard keeper to snap the scoreless tie with 4:24 left in the half.
The Reivers led 7-0 in the closing seconds of the second quarter when Waters fumbled the ball away on a sack at his own 37. Iowa Western safety James Garlock intercepted Butler quarterback Billy Cosh, however, on the final play of the half and returned the pick 85 yards to extend the lead to 14 points.
"I just went up the middle and got it," Garlock said. "Then I saw all of my blockers right in front me. I saw about five black shirts and two white shirts, and I knew I might be able to go."
The final play of the half was costly for the Grizzlies. Not only did they trail 14-0 after the pick-6 by Garlock, but they also lost Cosh to a knee injury for the remainder of the game.
The former Kansas State recruit completed only 7 of his 20 attempts and was intercepted twice. His backup, Tyler Harrison, then threw picks on his first two passes after the half.
Meanwhile, Iowa Western began to roll on offense. Waters completed his final six passes of the first half, then he went 17 for 17 after the break to finish 32 of 40 for 307 yards.
Although he didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time all year, Waters bumped his 2012 completion percentage to an NJCAA single-season record 73.3 percent.
Deon Long caught 14 passes for 137 yards to become the first player with 100 receptions in a season in NJCAA history. He already held the national mark for touchdowns catches in a year with 25.
A 1-yard scoring run by Don Jackson on IWCC's first drive of the third quarter bumped the lead to 21-0. Kicker Lance Irvin added two field goals as the Reivers tacked on points on all three of their second-half possessions prior to kneeling in the game's final minute.
Iowa Western's first seven series in the game resulted in six punts and a blocked field goal.
"They're a really good team, and we figured that out right away," Waters said. "We just had to get quick completions, get rolling and wear them down a little bit. And I think we did that. That's when we really started to click on offense."
The Reivers finished with 406 total yards to Butler's 237. The Grizzlies managed only 84 passing yards, but got their lone score on a 1-yard sneak by Harrison with 8:27 remaining.
Derrick Thomas led the Butler offense with 105 rushing yards. But the Grizzlies were held to less than half of their season average (510.5) in total yards and well below their average points per game (48.6).
"They came out and gave us everything we thought they would give us," IWCC linebacker Terrell Porter said. "We just came out, played a good game and we got the win."
Porter, who had a team-high 10 tackles, finished his junior college career with Grand Rapids and Iowa Western without a loss in 22 games. Garlock had seven tackles and two first-half interceptions.
Butler (11-1) 0 0 0 7 - 7
Iowa Western (12-0) 0 14 7 6 - 27
IW: Jake Waters 6 run (Lance Irvin kick)
IW: James Garlock 85 interception return (Irvin kick)
IW: Don Jackson 1 run (Irvin kick)
IW: FG Irvin 18
B: Tyler Harrison 1 run (Robert Rawlings kick)
IW: FG Irvin 23
IWCC, Waters 19-8, Wimberly 12-58, Roberts 3-11, Jackson 3-9, Team 2-0, Bravard 1-3.
BUTLER, D. Thomas 20-105, Allen 14-39, Harrison 2-14, M. Thomas 2-5, Blue 1-(-5), Hurla 1-(-5).
IWCC, Waters 20-37-0 307, Bravard 2-2-0 10.
BUTLER, Cosh 7-20-2 31, Harrison 3-6-2 53.
IWCC, Long 14-137, Stone 7-28, Barr 6-72, Wimberly 3-42, Allison 2-20, Jackson 1-13, Gilland 1-5.
BUTLER, Hurla 3-57, D. Thomas 3-(-2), Clarke 1-43, Fields 1-(-2), M. Thomas 1-(-5), Allen 1-(-7).