Iowa Western wins NJCAA National Title

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – In only the fourth season of Iowa Western football, the Reivers raised the NJCAA national championship trophy Sunday night. The top-ranked Reivers defeated No. 2 Butler 27-7 in the NJCAA National Championship Game at the UNI Dome.

An 88-yard interception return by Iowa Western freshman defensive back James Garlock on the final play of the first half proved to be a vital turning point on multiple levels. The touchdown put the Reivers up 14-0 going into the half and Butler sophomore quarterback Billy Cosh suffered a game-ending injury on the return.

Despite the video-game like numbers Iowa Western produced on offense this season, it was the defense that anchored the Reivers' win Saturday. The Butler Grizzlies were held to just 236 yards of total offense and a season-low 84 yards passing. Sophomore linebacker Terrell Porter led the Reivers in tackles with eight including two for a loss. Garlock recorded two of Iowa Western's four interceptions on the evening.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Waters had another phenomenal performance, completing 32-of-40 passes for 306 yards. Despite not throwing a touchdown pass for the first time all season, Waters put the Reivers up 7-0 late in the second quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run. Waters closed out 2012 with a 73.3 completion percentage for the season, making him the most efficient quarterback in the history of NJCAA football.

Waters once again found sophomore wide receiver Deon Long to be his top target. Long totaled 136 yards on 14 catches, pushing his single-season total to a NJCAA-record 100. Coming into the championship, Long already held the single-season receiving touchdown record. Long fell just 14 yards shy of the single-season record for receiving yards.

Missing prized sophomore running back Dreamius Smith, the Grizzlies turned to sophomore running back Derrick Thomas. The lone bright spot in Butler's offense Saturday, Thomas ran the ball 21 times for 108 yards.

Before suffering his injury, Cosh struggled running the Butler offense. Cosh was 7-for-20 passing for 31 yards and was picked off twice. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Harrison tried to fill in for the Grizzlies but threw two more interceptions and was just 3-for-6 passing for 53 yards.

Capitalizing on their momentum from the first half, Iowa Western quickly improved their lead to 21-0 in the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown carry by freshman running back Don Jackson. After falling behind 24-0, Butler scored their first points of the game on Harrison's one-yard touchdown run. Iowa Western sophomore kicker Lance Irvin connected on his second field goal with 2:46 remaining to give the Reivers the 27-7 final advantage.

Iowa Western caps off their national championship season with a perfect 12-0 record. Butler's final record for 2012 drops to 11-1 following the defeat.

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