INDEPENDENCE, Kan. — Iowa Western defeated No. 17 Independence on Saturday but lost plenty on the way to victory.
The unranked Reivers (4-3) recorded their third straight win with a 20-3 triumph over the Pirates (3-3), but by game’s end, the IWCC roster was decimated by injuries. Running backs ZaQuandre White (knee) and Sheldon Cage (ankle) were unable to finish the game. Wide receiver Deshon Stoudemire suffered a concussion and was unable to return. Offensive lineman Mekhi Butler left with cramps, and tight end Richie Griglione left with a dislocated finger.
But the biggest and most serious injury came early in the first quarter on a kickoff. Defensive back L.J. Wallace took a knee to the back of the head while attempting to make a tackle and was transported to a hospital. The game was delayed roughly 20 minutes as he was helped off the field.
Despite the injuries and concern for teammates, the Reivers were able to regroup with one of their best defensive efforts of the season.
“You lose a teammate, and you don’t know how he’s doing,” Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “Then you’re dealing with a head injury. Our kids didn’t lose a beat. They were saying they wanted to do this thing for L.J., and they left it all out there.”
The Reivers held Independence to 201 total yards. IWCC’s rushing defense was especially stingy. The Pirates totaled 84 yards on the ground on 46 attempts, 1.8 yards per attempt.
The Reivers sacked Independence quarterbacks Stephon Brown and Craig Wells six times. Kenny Wilkins had an interception and Keenan Stewart recovered a fumble. Stewart, Devin Drew, Almosse Titi and Dominic Quewon each tallied a solo sack, and Noah Treimer, Josh Brink, Ben Sorensen and Jayleen Fitzpatrick had parts in the other two quarterback takedowns.
“They played phenomenal,” Strohmeier said. “I thought we had to own the line of scrimmage, and we did. We had to tackle well, and we did. They played lights out. They were physical. They were disciplined, and they made tackles in open space. When you do that, you’ve got a chance.”
Quarterback Cam Thomas got the Reivers on the board with 8:33 left in the first quarter with a 9-yard touchdown run. A 39-yard field goal from Chase Contreraz five minutes later pushed the Reiver lead to 10-0.
Thomas finished 14 of 36 passing for 111 yards with a touchdown and interception. He added 46 rushing yards and a score on 10 attempts. White added 54 yards on 12 carries, and Cage contributed 67 yards on 15 attempts.
“My whole motto was that we were going to have to empty the tank today, and we did,” Strohmeier said. “We were under the ‘E’ mark. I don’t know if we could’ve played much longer.”
Iowa Western (4-3)..............10 0 10 0—20
At Independence (3-3).............0 3 0 0— 3
IW: Cam Thomas 9 run (Chase Contreraz kick)
IW: FG Contreraz 39
IN: FG Jalin Troutman 30
IW: FG Contreraz 36
IW: Tyler Blaha 22 pass from Cam Thomas
The Nebraska 100: Our greatest athletes
The Nebraska 100, originally selected in 2005 and then updated and re-ranked in 2015, came from a pool of nearly 500 names from the ranks of high school, college, amateur and professional sports from the past 140 years. Assistance came from a panel of veteran sports observers from across the state, with the newspaper's sports staff determining the final rankings.