Courtesy of the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil
Reiver Football won over No. 17 Independence Saturday, but lost plenty on the way to victory.
The Reivers (4-3), just outside the NJCAA Top 20, recorded their third straight win with a 20-3 triumph over the No. 17 Pirates (3-3), but by game's end, the IWCC roster was decimated by injuries. Running backs ZaQuandre White (knee) and Sheldon Cage (ankle) were unable to finish the game. Wide receiver Deshon Stoudemire suffered a concussion and was unable to return. Offensive lineman Mekhi Butler left with cramps, and tight end Richie Griglione III left with a dislocated finger.
But the biggest and most serious injury came on the game's opening kickoff. Linebacker L.J. Wallace took a knee to the back of the head while making a tackle and was transported to the hospital. The game was delayed roughly 20 minutes as he was helped off the field.
Despite the injuries and concern for teammates, the Reivers somehow were able to regroup with one of their best defensive efforts of the season.
"You lose a teammate, and you don't know how he's doing," Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. "Then you're dealing with a head injury. Our kids didn't lose a beat. They were saying they wanted to do this thing for L.J., and they left it all out there."
The Reivers yielded only 201 yards of total offense on the day. IWCC's rushing defense was especially stingy. The Pirates totaled 84 yards on the ground on 46 attempts, which resulted in only 1.8 yards per attempt.
The Reivers sacked Independence quarterbacks Stephon Brown and Craig Wells six times. Kenny Wilkins, Jr. had an interception and Keenan Stewart recovered a fumble. Stewart, Devin Drew, Almosse Titi and Dominic Quewon each tallied a solo sack, and Ben Sorenson and Jayleen Fitzpatrick each had a part of the other two quarterback takedowns.
"They played phenomenal," Strohmeier said. "I thought we had to own the line of scrimmage, and we did. We had to tackle well, and we did. They played lights out. They were physical. They were disciplined, and they made tackles in open space. When you do that, you've got a chance."
The Reivers drew only four penalties on the day for 25 yards. By contrast, Independence was flagged 10 times for 81 yards, with two giving IWCC a first down.
Quarterback Cam Thomas got the Reivers on the board with 8:33 left in the first quarter with his first touchdown run of the season from nine-yards out. A 39-yard field goal from Chase Contreraz five minutes later pushed the Reiver lead to 10-0.
Jalin Troutman gave Independence its only points of the game with 3:12 left in the first half when he connected on a 30-yard field goal to bring the Pirates within 10-3.
They would come no closer. Contreraz made it 13-3 at the 12:39 mark in the third quarter with a 36-yard field goal, and St. Albert alum Tyler Blaha made it 20-3 Reivers when he hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Thomas with 9:49 left in the third quarter.
Thomas finished 14-of-36 passing for 111 yards with a touchdown and interception. He also added 46 rushing yards and a score on 10 attempts. White added 54 yards on 12 carries and Cage contributed 67 yards on 15 attempts.
"My whole motto was that we were going to have to empty the tank today, and we did," Strohmeier said. "We were under the 'E' mark. I don't know if we could've played much longer."
Iowa Western (4-3) 10 0 10 0 — 20
Independence (3-3) 0 3 0 0 — 3
IW: FG Contreraz 39
IN: FG Jalin Troutman 30
IW: FG Contreraz 36