Butler Community College lost Sunday in the NJCAA championship game against Iowa Western, 27-7, as the Reivers won their first national title and the Grizzlies lost for the second straight time in the title game.
Here’s a look back at how it went down:
1. No Dreamius
West Virginia-bound running back Dreamius Smith was arguably Butler’s best player and a way to keep teams honest with the Grizzlies’ passing game. He was out against Iowa Western with a broken collarbone and he could’ve made the difference in keeping the game close, at least, and negated some of the Reivers’ team speed.
2. Butler’s defense played great
The Grizzlies sacked Iowa Western quarterback Jake Waters six times – he’d been sacked five times the entire season leading up to the game. The Reivers turned three of Butler’s four turnovers – all off of interceptions – into points, including that 88-yard interception return by James Garlock for a TD as the first half expired.
3. Butler had their shots
Billy Cosh’s interception to Garlock – Garlock’s second pick – came with the Grizzlies trailing just 7-0 at halftime and trying to get into at least field-goal range. Both of backup QB Tyler Harrison’s picks came in Reiver territory, including one disastrous throw that was intercepted at the 1-yard line with Butler trailing 21-0 and four minutes left in the third quarter.
A few that were good:
The sophomore defensive tackle had 2 1/2 sacks, 12 tackles and dominated the line of scrimmage. He was named the game’s defensive MVP.
The sophomore running back finished with 21 carries for 108 yards and was the only source of offense for Butler much of the day.
The sophomore tight end/wide receiver seemed like the only one of Butler’s receivers who consistently was able to get open against Iowa Western and he was open on Harrison’s pick at the goal line, and Cosh missed him on a big play early in the game where he was streaking down the middle of the field.
A few that were bad:
Even before he was hurt trying to make the tackle on Garlock’s interception return, he struggled. Finished 7 of 20 for 31 yards and two interceptions.
Cosh’s backup came in and threw two interceptions on his first two pass attempts.
Anyone that tried to cover Deon Long
Iowa Western’s stud receiver ended up with 14 catches for 136 yards, and Butler was forced to play off of him the entire game because of his speed. He and IW quarterback Jake Waters had a field day with underneath routes, eating up small chunks of the field.
Butler probably needed to take some more chances offensively in the first half when they still had Cosh, instead settling for fly sweeps and quick, hitch-type routes that the Iowa Western corners smothered in a heartbeat. Also, trailing 24-0 in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies made the odd decision to kick an extra point after their first touchdown and about nine minutes on the clock. Needed three TDs and to go for two on each one at that point.
“I have a lot of respect for Butler’s program, they’re the ones that seem like they’re always playing (for the NJCAA title). What they’ve built there is amazing.” – Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier