Iowa Central finishes comeback season with bowl win

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Cedar Falls, IA – Appearing in their first bowl game in five years, Iowa Central kept a one-loss Monroe Mustang team at arm's length the entire day, capitalizing off the only Mustang turnover early in the game en route to winning the Tritons' 15th NJCAA bowl game in program history.

Defensive back Jackson Martens opened the scoring early for the Tritons when he intercepted a pass from Monroe quarterback Jalen Brown and returned it 28 yards for the early 7-0 Iowa Central lead just two minutes into the contest.

Six minutes later, Iowa Central running back Draven Peeples finished off a 12-play, 60-yard play to double the Tritons' lead with a short two-yard run up the middle.

Monroe countered with their own 60-plus yard drive on the next series to get the Mustangs on the board. On a fourth-and-one situation deep into the red zone, running back Jarious Jones capped off the possession in which he accounted for over half the yards on with a three-yard run. The extra point snap was mishandled leading to a 14-6 scoreline after one period of play.

Iowa Central added one score in the second quarter when the game's MVP, quarterback Justin Blake, found JM Young open in the back of the end zone to create a two-score lead heading into halftime.

Neither team would score in the third but on the first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, Triton quarterback Blake Dever found Carlton Todd open for a 65-yard touchdown to add to its cushion.

Monroe answered quickly via a 43-yard strike from Brown to Tyler Hodge to cut into the deficit at 28-13. On the next possession for Iowa Central, the Tritons put the game out of reach with Justin Blake scored on a keeper. 

The Mustangs added a late score when Jalen Brown connected on an 83-yard pass to Tyler Bailey, but the onside kick was unsuccessful as the Tritons ran the clock out for their first eight-win season since 2008.

  • The Tritons completed a huge turnaround season in 2018 after winning their eighth game of the year Sunday; after combining for a total of three wins in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
  • Iowa Central won the program's 15th NJCAA bowl game, with 13th coming in The Graphic Edge Bowl (or its predecessors). 
  • With their win Sunday, the Tritons are now 15-11-1 all-time in NJCAA bowl games. The most recent win came in 2014 over Rochester, 41-27.
  • A historically run-heavy team, Iowa Central switched to a balanced attack. That held true Sunday as the Tritons gained 292 yards through the air and 188 on the ground.
  • Dynamic quarterback Justin Blake was named the game's Offensive MVP after passing for 114 yards and rushing for a game-high 87.
  • Recording eight tackles, including 3.5 for-loss, Torre Boland earned Defensive MVP honors Sunday.
  • In only its seventh season as a football program, Monroe played in its first NJCAA bowl game in program history.
  • Eight different Mustang receivers made a reception in Sunday's game.

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