HIGHLAND, Kan. – Aided by a huge day from ZaQuandre White that included three fourth-quarter touchdown runs, fifth-ranked Iowa Western was able to notch its seventh straight victory Saturday with a 27-22 win at Highland.
The Reivers (8-3) faced a 15-7 deficit heading into the final quarter, but White came through with touchdown runs of 4, 4 and 2 yards in the frame. He was the go-to option all day, finishing with 36 carries for 145 yards while adding three catches for 31 yards.
The Reivers’ fourth-quarter performance was needed. Their offense struggled prior to that. Marcell Barbee’s 16-yard touchdown in the second quarter served as the team’s only points up to that point.
IWCC also didn’t help its cause, getting flagged 13 times for 165 yards. And the defense, which was the most consistent piece of the team’s winning streak entering Saturday, allowed 400 yards of total offense and 356 passing yards to Highland quarterback Joseph Cambridge.
But the only statistic that mattered in the end was the Iowa Western win.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “Not the way we maybe wanted it to go, but we came out on top. It’s tough. They had a lot going for them for why they were playing hard. I don’t think we helped them by any stretch. We didn’t play clean at all through the first three quarters offensively. But we came away with the victory.”
Another bright spot for the Reivers was at quarterback. Making his first collegiate start on the Reivers’ varsity roster, sophomore Braydon Aker performed well, completing 17 of 32 passes for 244 yards with the touchdown to Barbee and an interception.
“I can’t stress enough how proud I am of Braydon,” Strohmeier said. “That’s what we’re asking of all of our guys. He never complained one time. He never missed anything. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. As a coach, what else can you ask for? And he went out and performed with his opportunity. He might’ve earned himself an opportunity to play more.”
The Reivers surely have. They had a slim hope of sneaking into the national championship game conversation, but top-ranked Mississippu Gulf Coast won Saturday, which likely clinches one of the spots in the title game. Third-ranked Garden City faced No. 11 Butler Saturday night, but those results were unavailable at press time, and second-ranked Lackawanna and ninth-ranked Georgia Military play today.
The bottom line is that IWCC will play in a bowl game in December, a concept that didn’t seem likely after the team’s 1-3 start.
“As much adversity as we came through, we did all we could do,” Strohmeier said. “Now where the chips may fall, they fall. We’re going to try to get the next-best opponent that we can get and go and play another game. You’re only guaranteed 11, and we’ve got a 12th one now. We’ve earned it; we’ve got some time off to prepare for whoever we play.”
Iowa Western (8-3) 0 7 0 20 — 27
Highland (6-4) 3 6 6 7 — 22
H: FG Jeri Velasquez 36
IW: Marcell Barbee 16 pass from Braydon Aker (Chase Contreraz kick)
H: Jayden Thomas 10 pass from Joseph Cambridge (kick failed)
H: Kajuan Jackson 14 pass from Cambridge (kick failed)
IW: ZaQuandre White 4 run (pass failed)
H: Jackson 76 pass from Cambridge (Velasquez kick)
IW: White 2 run (Contreraz kick)
IW: White 4 run (Contreraz kick)