CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - A dominating Iowa Western Community College (9-3) defense continued their dominance in the 2019 The Graphic Edge Bowl, taking down Hinds Community College (7-3) 34-19 in the 2019 Opening Game on Sunday.
It was the first time in Iowa Western's eight appearance history at The Graphic Ede Bowl in which they played in the Opening Game. It didn't seem to matter, as Iowa Western shut out the Eagles in the first quarter and netted two field goals of their own to gather a 6-0 lead after the first quarter.
Following an Iowa Western interception early in the second quarter, Hinds countered on the very next play as DeMario Nichols intercepted a buble pass attempt and returned it 14-yards for an Eagle touchdown. The PAT failed and the game was tied at 6, all. The game remainded a offensive struggle for the rest of the half, and the teams were tied at the break.
Top open the second half, Iowa Western marched down the field, 55 yards in one minute, and ended the drive with a 31-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Braydon Aker to Marcel Barbee.
Later on in the quarter, Reiver running back ZaQuandre White plunged in for a one-yard touchdown and expanded the Iowa Western lead to 20-6. Hinds would not go away, and in 2:38, scored on a 13-yard jaunt from Joe'Vonte Shorter to close the gap back to eight, 20-12.
The fourth quarter belonged to Iowa Western's backup tailback Sheldon Cage. The redshirt freshman scored on a 15-yard run with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter to bump Iowa Western's advantage back up to 15. Then following another pick six from Hinds' Artavious Washington, Cage scored his second touchdown of the quarter with 1:36 to go, putting the game out of reach, 34-19.
Cage's 174 all-purpose yards, 153 coming on the ground, and two touchdowns earned him the 2019 Offensive MVP honors.
Nichols, along with his interception return, made five tackles and forced a fumble, and was awarded 2019 Defensive MVP honors for Hinds.
The win for Iowa Western capped off an eight-game winning streak to end the 2019 season. In that span, they gave up less than 11 points per game. Iowa Western tallied 13 tackles for loss in the game and three sacks to continually put Hinds in long down and distance.