COUNCIL BLUFFS — Facing a team that seemingly had nine lives, Iowa Western had one final chance to drive the stake home. The Reivers took full advantage of it.
On third-and-2 from the 5 in overtime, freshman Tyus Mason scored untouched up the middle, giving No. 2 Iowa Western a 36-30 victory over No. 5 Butler in a meeting of national junior college powers Saturday at Titan Stadium.
“We had times where I thought maybe we were pulling away, and they just keep fighting and fighting,” Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “For our guys to persevere through it and to come out with a victory, I’m just so happy.”
Iowa Western improved to 3-0 against a program that has appeared in seven of the last 14 national championship games and won 14 of the last 16 Jayhawk Conference titles.
“It’s something you’ll never forget,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “Two great teams with a lot of really good athletes that people are going to see play on Saturdays at the D-I level, and maybe in the NFL someday. Back and forth game. I don’t think there’s a fan that can leave here that can say they didn’t see a great one.”
Iowa Western led 30-22 before quarterback DaMarcus Smith’s heroics helped the Grizzlies draw even. Smith nearly touched his knee to the ground well behind the line, but regained his balance and made multiple defenders miss to score on a 15-yard run.
On the two-point try, a scrambling Smith found Derek Lee, who maintained control after getting belted in the end zone to tie the game with 6:32 left in regulation.
In the extra session, Butler took the ball first. Smith scrambled for 12 yards to the 13 for a first down. But then the Reiver defense came up big. On third-and-2 at the 5, Chris Carson was stopped for no gain.
Butler’s primary kicker was injured, and the Grizzlies were 0 for 2 on field goals plus a missed extra point. Butler lined up for a 22-yard field-goal attempt and tried a fake, but holder Bakari Triggs was tackled by Marchez Coates for a loss of 12.
That meant the Reivers needed any score to win. Bender scrambled for 9 yards on a third-and-7 play to the Butler 13. Mason, a 5-foot-9, 173-pounder out of West Des Moines Valley, carried for 6 and 2 yards, before finding plenty of daylight on his third-and-2 attempt from the 5, touching off a wild celebration on the Reiver side.
“He’s so elusive,” Strohmeier said. “They were bringing so much darn pressure from the outside all day. We thought, ‘Well, let’s see if we can’t crease one.’ Fortunately we did.”
Danny Hamilton’s 30-yard field goal put the Reivers up 30-22 with 9:10 remaining. Alex Reed had third-down catches of 10 and 15 yards to keep the drive alive.
On fourth-and-3 at the Reiver 4, Smith hit Lee for a touchdown. Triggs fumbled the snap on the hold, got up and ran it in for two points to pull the Grizzlies within 27-22 with 13:06 left in the game.
Iowa Western overcame 12 penalties for 135 yards.
Iowa Western moved the ball well in the first half, rolling up 264 total yards. Bender was 20 for 27 for 205 yards and two scores before the intermission. However, the Reivers hindered themselves with penalties. They were flagged eight times for 85 yards in the first half.
Iowa Western took an early 10-0 lead when Bender hit Taj Williams for a 4-yard touchdown on its fourth possession. Bender had completions of 36 yards to Reed and 37 to Williams on the drive.
Bender passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns, completing 29 of 45. Iowa Western finished with a 387-348 edge in total yardage.
Butler (1-1) ................................... 0 14 0 16 0—30
At Iowa Western (2-0) .................... 10 7 10 3 6—36
IW: FG Dan Hamilton 23
IW: Taj Williams 4 pass from Tay Bender (Hamilton kick)
B: Michael Gallup 13 run (kick failed)
IW: Andrew Davis 5 pass from Bender (Hamilton kick)
B: Chris Carson 2 run (DaMarcus Smith run)
IW: FG Hamilton 34
IW: Anthony Anderson 1 run (Hamilton kick)
B: Derek Lee 4 pass from Smith (Triggs run)
IW: FG Hamilton 30
B: Smith 15 run (Lee pass from Smith)
IW: Tyus Mason 5 run
RUSHING: B, Chris Carson 18-72, DaMarcus Smith 13-26, Michael Gallup 2-21, Kickobe McCrary 4-11. IW, Lor’renzo Pratt 8-53, Tyus Mason 10-29, Tay Bender 20-20, Devon Paye 8-19.
PASSING: B, DaMarcus Smith 18-36-2 200; Chris Carson 1-2-0 12. IW, Tay Bender 29-45-1 265.
RECEIVING: B, Julian Burris 3-57, Michael Gallup 3-31, Chris Carson 3-6, McKinley Johnson 2-28. IW, Taj Williams 10-104, Ronald Nash 8-59, Alex Reed 6-69, Tyler Lloyd 2-15.
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