*** NJCAA CHAMPIONSHIP ***
DREAM REIVERS – Just four years after the start of their institution’s football program the IOWA WESTERN REIVERS became the national champions of the NJCAA! The top- ranked Reivers defeated perennial gridiron powers the number 2 BUTLER (KS) GRIZZLIES in an epic clash between a feisty newcomer and an established powerhouse. Most surprising of all was the way Iowa Western College dominated the game from start to finish, pounding Butler by a score of 27-7. Congratulations to the Reivers!
*** NAIA PLAYOFFS ***
DEFENDING CHAMPS DETHRONED – Just a week after Balladeer’s Blog pronounced them this year’s Team of Destiny in the NAIA the MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE MUSTANGS unseated the incumbent champions, the SAINT XAVIER UNIVERSITY COUGARS. The homestanding Mustangs were all business and dominated on both sides of the ball, advancing to the December 13th national championship game with an intimidating 47-19 win.
ONE STEP FURTHER – Last year the MARIAN UNIVERSITY KNIGHTS made it to the NAIA semi-finals but lost to St Xavier University. This year the Knights proved that the additional year of experience under their belts made all the difference. Marian U took it on the road this time around and won a grueling, hard-fought Instant Classic against the MISSOURI VALLEY COLLEGE VIKINGS 20-17. It will be Knights vs Mustangs for the NAIA title on December 13th in Rome, GA.
*** NCAA D2 PLAYOFFS ***
NUMBER ONE TAKES A FALL – The overall one seeds in NCAA Division 2, the CSU-PUEBLO THUNDER WOLVES, were upset in the quarter-finals by the WEST TEXAS A&M BUFFALOES. The Buffaloes have been this season’s answer to last year’s Wayne State, having to play on the road every round but coming away with win after win. West Texas proved they weren’t fooling around today and put the Thunder Wolves away in convincing fashion by a final score of 34-13.
HBCU PRIDE – The WINSTON- SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY RAMS are having another terrific year. Once again they advance to the Division 2 Final Four. The Rams had their hands full in a smash- mouth epic but held on to emerge with a 21-17 victory over the INDIANA UNIVERSITY- PENNSYLVANIA CRIMSON HAWKS. Once again we see that dropping down to D2 from D1 a few years ago was the soundest gridiron strategy that WSSU ever conceived.
THE MAVERICKS DIDN’T COME HERE TO LOSE – The MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY MAVERICKS hosted the red-hot MISSOURI WESTERN GRIFFONS for the right to advance to the semi-finals. This was a bruising clash and the Griffons found themselves in the unfortunate position of playing catch-up in a tight game. The Mavericks maintained their lead and won by a final score of 17-10.
THREE OUT OF FOUR AIN’T BAD – The VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY BLAZERS trailed at one point today against the visiting CARSON- NEWMAN EAGLES, but wound up winning by a VERY comfortable 48-26 result. The Blazers became the third of this year’s One Seeds to advance to next week’s semi-finals, with the Cinderella Buffaloes the only exception.
*** NCAA D3 PLAYOFFS ***
TAKE THAT, CHALK! – The OSHKOSH TITANS treated D3 fans to the game of the day in their playoffs! They were on the road against the heavily- favored LINFIELD COLLEGE WILDCATS and though the Wildcats racked up a double-digit lead early on and were still clinging to it in the 3rd quarter the Titans refused to give up. Regulation ended with the score knotted up at 24 apiece, and after roaring back to force Overtime, Oshkosh went on to win the game 31-24.
DON’T SCREW WITH THE CRU – The only other truly competitive game in the D3 quarter-finals was the match between the UNIVERSITY OF MARY HARDIN BAYLOR CRUSADERS and the visiting WESLEY WOLVERINES. This was an exciting back and forth affair for a time before the Crusaders aka “The Cru” wound up pulling away from Wesley for a 32-20 victory.
WIN IT BY FORTY OR FIGHT – The UNIVERSITY OF SAINT THOMAS TOMMIES hosted the HOBART STATESMEN for the right to advance to next week’s semi-finals in Division 3. The Tommies came in with a no-nonsense attitude and pushed the Statesmen all around the field like Talleyrand out-negotiating the Statesmen of his day. The final score in this laugher was Saint Thomas 47, Hobart 7.
YOU PLAY FOOTBALL, WE’LL PLAY BASKETBALL – The MOUNT UNION PURPLE RAIDERS seem to be steam-rollering their way to yet ANOTHER date in the D3 championship game. Fortunately Whitewater didn’t make the playoffs at all this year so at least we won’t be in for another Purple Bowl. In a game that will leave the WIDENER PRIDE staff and players re-thinking their lives Mount Union bent them over and won a 72-17 annihilation. Yes, SEVENTY-TWO to seventeen.
*** D2 BOWLS ***
PIONEER BOWL – The fourteenth annual Pioneer Bowl was played between the ELIZABETH CITY VIKINGS (helmet at left) and the TUSKEGEE GOLDEN TIGERS. The Vikings spotted the Golden Tigers a 13-7 lead but then got serious. When the smoke cleared ECSU had scored 21 unanswered points and shut down the Tuskegee offense, walking away with an impressive 28-13 victory.
HEART OF TEXAS BOWL – In an unprecedented action the 2012 Heart of Texas Bowl was a dual event featuring an early game between two NJCAA teams and then this night game between two teams from NCAA Division 2. For the NJCAA result see below. The MCMURRY UNIVERSITY WARHAWKS, led by quarterback “Joltin'” Jake Mullin, put together a dramatic come-from- behind victory over the SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY MULERIDERS in a 36-35 gridiron epic.
MINERAL WATER BOWL – The 2012 Mineral Water Bowl pitted the WINONA STATE WARRIORS from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference against the LINDENWOOD UNIVERSITY LIONS out of the MidAmerica Intercollegiate Athletics Association. The MIAA is usually very lethal in Bowl season but this time around the NSIC dominated, with the Warriors thrashing the Lions by a score of 41-21.
*** NJCAA BOWLS ***
CARRIER DOME BOWL – This inaugural Bowl matched up a traditional gridiron power against an up-and- coming team with just a few years of existence as a football program. The (4) SNOW COLLEGE BADGERS were the traditional power and their post- season experience told the tale of the day as they schooled the up-and- coming (3) ASA COLLEGE AVENGERS. The Avengers no doubt have plenty more Bowl appearances before them but sadly they were never really in this game and lost by a score of 47-21.
SALT CITY BOWL – The HUTCHINSON BLUE DRAGONS were going for their FOURTH STRAIGHT Salt City Bowl victory in this game, with their opponents being the IOWA CENTRAL TRITONS. Hutch’s starting quarterback “Lethal” Luke Barnes suffered a broken bone in his hand early in the game, seriously affecting his performance. The Blue Dragons trailed 7-0 with halftime approaching when Kody “The Kansas Hammer” Cook was moved over to QB from wide receiver. In a storybook ending Cook led Hutchinson to a 41-21 triumph.
VALLEY OF THE SUN BOWL – This clash between the GLENDALE (AZ) GAUCHOS and the MESA COLLEGE THUNDERBIRDS was a back and forth gridiron masterpiece. The Gauchos led at halftime by a score of 24-21. Both teams maintained their intensity throughout the second half and when all was said and done Glendale College won by a final score of 41-35.
EL TORO BOWL – The ARIZONA WESTERN COLLEGE MATADORS got some solace yesterday after a season that saw them fail to live up to the number 1 ranking they held at the start. The Matadors faced the NASSAU COLLEGE LIONS and spotted them a 7-0 lead before hitting their “on” switch. Arizona Western had a 28-17 lead at halftime which was cut to 28-24 on the first Lions possession of the 2nd half. The galvanized Matadors then surged to a 42-24 lead, but then had to hold on tight against Nassau College’s valiant comeback attempt that came up just a bit short, giving AWC a 42-37 win.
CITIZENS BANK BOWL – The COLLEGE OF DUPAGE CHAPARRALS put the “D” in DuPage in their upset victory over the stunned NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA A&M GOLDEN NORSEMEN in the 2012 Citizens Bank Bowl. The Chaparrals defense was dynamic, sacking NEO’s quarterback Clayton Mitchem five times and forcing two fumbles plus three interceptions, including two pick-sixes. The Golden Norsemen had a 7-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter but lost by a final score of 42-29 to bring the Dale Patterson coaching era to a close. Patterson now moves to AD at NEO.
BRAZOS VALLEY BOWL – In a case of Ranger on Ranger violence the NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI RANGERS took on the KILGORE COLLEGE RANGERS in the 2012 Brazos Valley Bowl. In spite of the Bowl’s location the Texas team came out on the losing side. Northwest Mississippi College asserted themselves and took out their pent-up frustrations on the valiant Kilgore team to the tune of 47-36.
MISSISSIPPI BOWL – The GARDEN CITY BRONCBUSTERS and the COPIAH- LINCOLN WOLFPACK played a game that redefined drama and even managed to up the ante in the final 42 seconds with two more lead changes. The Wolfpack scored a touchdown at the :41 mark, taking a 29-28 lead. Quarterback Nick Marshall then moved the Broncbusters back down the field in a drive highlighted by a 62 yard completion to Rodriguez Coleman which set up the winning field goal by Tyler Peterson. The 32 yard field goal gave Garden City a 32-29 victory.
HEART OF TEXAS BOWL – As mentioned above this year the Heart of Texas Bowl was an unprecedented dual event, pitting two NJCAA teams against each other in one game and two NCAA Division 2 teams against each other in the other game. On the NJCAA side of things two teams called Bulldogs squared off against each other. The storied NAVARRO COLLEGE BULLDOGS managed a 30-23 victory over the GEORGIA MILITARY COLLEGE BULLDOGS in an undeniable game for the ages. A late Navarro touchdown broke the 23-23 tie, foreshadowing the drama to come in the night game.
GRAPHIC EDGE BOWL – In the “undercard” game of this NJCAA Bowl double- header the backstory was coach John Sala, formerly of the ELLSWORTH PANTHERS, returning to face them with his new team, the LOUISBURG COLLEGE HURRICANES. In one of the most exciting games of Bowl season the Panthers won a nailbiting 30-27 affair, giving Ellsworth a 1-0 edge in “Sala Bowl One”.
Helmets courtesy of the Helmet Project.