bowl watch nzombos late td pushes reivers past no 6 dupage

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BOWL WATCH: Nzombo’s late TD pushes Reivers past No. 6 Dupage

Kevin White, kevin.white@nonpareilonline.com

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. – Jon Nzombo needed some time to regain his bearings after a vicious fourth-quarter hit resulted in a College of DuPage player being ejected.

Nzombo got off the deck and delivered, and the same could be said for his Iowa Western team.

After seeing its 13-0, fourth-quarter lead erased, the 16th-rated Reivers responded with what proved to be the winning 71-yard touchdown drive, as Nzombo’s 2-yard TD run with 6:52 left gave Iowa Western a 20-13 junior college football win over No. 6 DuPage on Saturday at Bjarne Ullsvik Stadium.

After starting 0-2, the Reivers won their sixth straight game and can expect another sizable rise when the latest national rankings are released.

“I’m so happy for our guys, because so many people counted us out after week two,’’ Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “They’re like, ‘OK, Iowa Western’s having a down year and the wheels are falling off.’ I told our kids after that week, ‘We’ve got to stick to the course.’’’

The Reivers rarely have earned style points, and Saturday was another example. Iowa Western relied on a stout defense that made the Chaparrals one-dimensional. The hosts finished with 20 rushes for 19 yards and 197 total yards.

With DuPage struggling to move the chains, Iowa Western took a seemingly safe 13-0 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when Nzombo scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to cap a patient 21-play, 95-yard touchdown drive.

Aided by 25 yards in Reiver penalties, the Chaparrals drew within 13-7 with 11:37 remaining when Devin O’Hara found Crissean Caver-Williams for a 21-yard touchdown on fourth-and-17.

Marquez Washington then intercepted Zach Martin, and Manny Grant tied it on a 17-yard touchdown catch with 9:38 left. However, the PAT kick was wide, leaving it tied. It was the fourth time this year that Iowa Western had a double-digit fourth-quarter lead shrink to single digits.

“I don’t know what it is late, if we’re getting tired or if we’re losing some things mentally,’’ Strohmeier said.

The Reivers regained their poise on their next possession. Malcom Moore turned in a spectacular 29-yard reception, breaking several tackles along the way, down to the 10. On second-and-goal at the 8, Nzombo dropped a swing pass and then was viciously leveled well after the drop. Martine Perez was ejected.

“When I dropped the ball I expected to get hit, but I didn’t expect to get hit that hard,’’ said Nzombo, a 5-foot-8, 188-poumder who played at Clear Creek-Amana in southeast Iowa.

Nzombo stayed down for a time, then was helped to the sideline. He underwent a concussion test with the Reiver trainers and passed. Three plays later, on third-and-goal at the 2, he was back in the game.

“I walked up to Coach and I said, ‘Put me in, Coach. I want to score,’’’ Nzombo said.  “And I did, and it feels pretty great.’’ Nzombo gave the Reivers’ struggling running game a boost with 19 carries for 87 yards and two scores.

The Iowa Western defense took it from there. On third-and-3 from the Iowa Western 46, Dominic Wilson hurried O’Hara into an incompletion. Then Shaq Jones broke up a pass to give the visitors possession with 4:32 left.

On fourth-and-inches, Martin hustled under center and sneaked for the first down. The Reivers then ran out the clock to improve to 8-0 alltime against the Chaparrals.

“I’m happy for our guys just fighting back,’’ Strohmeier said. “We played extremely well up front again. You win the line of scrimmage, you’re going to win a lot of ballgames.’’

Martin connected primarily on short passes, going 31-of-50 for 234 yards and a score with one interception. Slot receiver Tyus Mason caught 11 passes for 74 yards, as the Reivers finished with 361 total yards.

Defensive end Abe Freeman had a sack and a half for the winners. John Swisher and Detric Bing-Dukes added one sack apiece, and Mark Hall joined with Freeman for a sack.

“We just told the offense, ‘We’ve got it. Go out there and play to the best of your ability. If it’s there, it’s there. If it’s not, the defense has got you,’’’ Freeman said.

Iowa Western (6-2)     7 0 0 13 – 20

College of DuPage (5-1)         0 0 0 13 – 13

IW: Malcom Moore 4 pass from Zach Martin (Bobby Patterson kick)

IW: Jon Nzombo 1 run (kick failed)

D: Crissean Caver-Williams 21 pass from Devin O’Hara (Casey Bednarski kick)

D: Manny Grant 17 pass from O’Hara (kick blocked)

IW: Nzombo 2 run (Patterson kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: IW, Jon Nzombo 19-87, Ray Gray 18-37, Zach Martin 4-5, Tyus Mason 2-4, team 3-(-1), Brock Larsen 1-(-5). D, Linell Gaston 4-14, Evan Scales 3-12, Christian Ellison 5-5, team 1-0, Devin O’Hara 7-(-12).

PASSING: IW, Zach Martin 31-50-1, 234 yards, 1 TD. D, Devin O’Hara 16-30-0 166 yards, 2 TDs; Evan Scales 3-7-0, 12 yards.

RECEIVING: IW, Tyus Mason 11-74, Malcom Moore 5-52, Marshall Clark 4-37, Ray Gray 3-25, Taj Williams 3-17, Chris Jones 2-12, Sam Harms 1-7, Jon Nzombo 1-6, Turner Gaines 1-4. D, Crissean Caver-Williams 5-57, Logan Wharff 5-44, Darian Pollian 1-20, Manny Grant 1-17, Christian Ellison 1-12, Joey Fontano 2-10, Mitch Boals 1-8, Deonte Moses 2-5, Quinetin Jackson 1-5.

TACKLE LEADERS (solos-assists): IW, Shaq Jones 5-2, Rico Gafford 4-1, Keith Schwickerath 3-1, Stone Kane 3-0, Detric Bing-Dukes 1-5, John Swisher 1-4, Mark Hall 0-5. D, Martine Perez 8-0, Tyjuan Swain 7-1, Bryan Robinson 5-1.

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