... The top-rated Reivers (11-0) have averaged a nation-leading 615.9 yards and 66 points per game. They are ranked second in the country in both rushing (278.1) and passing (337.8) yards per game as well.
IWCC scores quickly, and it scores often. None of its 11 opponents have been able to keep up. That may change Sunday at about 3:30 p.m. when the Reivers meet No. 2 Butler (11-0) for the NJCAA championship in the Graphic Edge Bowl at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
Led by former Kansas State redshirt and James Madison transfer Billy Cosh at quarterback, the unbeaten Grizzlies are also ranked among the national leaders in total offense.
He claimed that slowing the Grizzlies, who average 510.5 yards and 48.6 points per game, will provide the biggest challenge his defense has faced this season and that he’s planned against in his career.
“We’ve got to be able to win on our side,” Blackbourn said. “If it comes down to the fourth quarter, we’ve got to be able to rise up and make a stand. We’ve got to come up with some big stops.
“It’s going to be a good old-fashioned heavyweight bout. We’ve got to be able to give our guys confidence by showing our defense is here, too.”
The Iowa Western defense, while being overshadowed by its prolific offense, has been solid all season. The Reivers are allowing only 13.3 points per game and have forced 35 turnovers.
Coming up with takeaways Sunday could be crucial, Blackbourn said. But the Grizzlies haven’t turned the ball over much this season. And, like Iowa Western, they have lots of weapons.
Cosh has thrown for 2,825 yards and 25 touchdowns. Javess Blue has more than 1,000 receiving yards and 12 scores. And West Virginia recruit Dreamius Smith and Derrick Thomas have combined for more than 1,700 rushing yards and 26 TDs at running back, although Smith has been hampered by injuries and reportedly may not play in Sunday’s title game.
Getting pressure on Cosh and keeping track of Blue, Blackbourn said, will be priorities for IWCC. The Reiver coordinator said he’s had plenty of time to plan, but won’t change much.
“We’re really stressing being fundamentally sound in what we do,” he said. “I don’t want to get away from what we do well. We’ve still got to stick to our guns.”
Iowa Western head coach Scott Strohmeier said it will be important for his team to stay composed in situations it hasn’t faced this fall. The Reivers haven’t trailed in a game all season. .....