Blinn rallies to win SWJFC championship
Fort Scott Community College's victory over Butler in the Region VI Championship Game Saturday wasn't a result that shook up the polls very much. Even if some of the upsets that occurred over the weekend had not happened, the Greyhounds were going to be No. 2 at worst when the new NJCAA/jcfootball.com poll was released Monday morning.
The real shake-ups were provided by former No. 3 Blinn in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference Championship Game on Sunday and Arizona Western, which entered the weekend tied at No. 7 with Butler, in the final weekend of Western States Football League play on Saturday.
First, a look at Arizona Western's victory over former No. 4 Snow (Utah). This was actually the Matadors' second victory over the Badgers this season as the teams met in a non-league game back on Sept. 5.
Since the WSFL does not conduct playoffs, Saturday's rematch determined the league champion. As the Matadors had a league loss to New Mexico Military on Oct. 17, both Western and Snow finished 7-1 in WSFL play. It was not clear if the WSFL breaks ties as one report claimed Snow still had a share of the title, although most college conferences usually do have some sort of tie-breaker.
Arizona Western is 9-1 overall while Snow is 9-2. The Matadors can choose to take the automatic berth into the Valley of the Sun Bowl that is usually reserved for Arizona's best team or go to another bowl if it thinks it will have a better match-up. Snow was already set to go to the Top of the Mountains Bowl in Salt Lake City.
Snow had won its last 25 WSFL contests.
Sunday in Texas, former No. 1 Navarro (10-1) experienced a horrendous form of déjà-vu as Blinn (10-1) once again prevailed in the SWJFC Championship Game. Last season, Blinn finished third in the regular season standings but beat Navarro in the championship game.
Two weeks ago, Navarro beat Blinn, 23-20 in the regular-season finale. The victorious Bulldogs moved up from No. 2 to No. 1 while Blinn fell from first to No. 4. The Buccaneers moved up one spot last week after winning a SWJCFC semifinal and No. 3 Mississippi Gulf Coast fell in the Mississippi championship game.
Navarro's sophomore class has lost just two games -- both to Blinn in the SWJFC Championship Game.
A report on the NJCAA Web site, www.njcaa.org, from Blinn College Media Relations Specialist Gena Parsons stated that Blinn overcame a 28-17 halftime deficit.
Blinn opened the second half with sophomore running back Mike Hayes scoring a 3-yard touchdown. A mistake on the ensuing kickoff allowed Navarro to start from the Blinn-36 yard line after the ball traveled just 6 yards with a penalty enforced after the play. But the Bucs' defense held the Bulldogs to a field goal.
Hayes tied the score at 31-31 early in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard touchdown run. Navarro regained the lead on a 25-yard field goal.
Hayes returned the kickoff to the Navarro 49-yard line. On 4th-and-2 from the 41, the Bulldogs stopped Hayes short, but an offsides penalty on Navarro kept the Blinn drive alive.
On the next play, quarterback Cam Newton lobbed the ball to redshirt freshman fullback Marcus Wilkins for a 39-yard gain to set up Newton's third one-yard touchdown and putting the Bucs up 38-34 with 5:29 left.
The high-powered Navarro offense stalled. In trouble on 3rd down, Bulldog quarterback Roddy Green threw into triple coverage. Dextrell Simmons intercepted and ran it back to the Navarro 14 yard line. One play was all the Bucs needed for Hayes to log his third touchdown, giving Blinn an 11-point lead with 3:36 remaining. An interception on the ensuing drive sealed the victory for the Buccaneers.
Newton rushed for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns for Blinn while Newton completed 21 of 29 passes for 237 yards and rushed for 3 scores himself. Newton was back from an ankle injury he suffered in the first meeting against Navarro.
Blinn, if it wishes, has the SWJFC's automatic berth into the CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl but it is likely that it will accept a bid to the Citizens Bank Bowl to play Fort Scott for the national title.
NJCAA bowl bids could not be officially extended until this morning.