Setting records with an 83-yard kick-off return for a touchdown and the highest score in the event's three-year history, the 15th-ranked College of DuPage Chaparrals bested the ninth-ranked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen 42-29 in the Citizens Bank Bowl on Dec. 2.
The bowl game, stared in 2009, is sanctioned by the National Junior College Athletic Association and served as the NJCAA championship game for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons.
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The Chaparrals' win included MVP nods to Running back Tyreis Thomas and defensive lineman Jeff Brown, who were named offensive and defensive MVP, respectively. Thomas had 106 yards rushing and 30 receiving, while Brown had one interception, two sacks and five tackles.
Following a scoreless first quarter in which the Chaparrals kicker Matt Cotiguala missed his first field goal of the season, NEO drew first blood, steadily advancing across the field before running the ball for a 22-yard touchdown. COD answered quickly, however, as wide receiver Johnny Holton ran 83 yards on the kick-off return to score.
In response to yet another NEO touchdown, the Chaparrals scored again, tying the game 14-14 going into halftime.
A reenergized COD team emerged for the third quarter, with defensive back Jaylan Bailey stripping the ball away, setting the Chaparrals up for another scoring drive with 3:31 remaining. Bailey then intercepted the ball from NEO, running 45 yards for another COD touchdown.
After holding the NEO offense, the Chaparrals scored again early in the fourth on a 16-yard pass from quarterback Byron Dawkins to wide receiver Andre Taylor. The Norsemen managed to break through the COD defense in the last four minutes to score, but the Chaparrals again quickly answered, bringing the score to 42-21 with 1:48 remaining. The Norsemen's final drive resulted in another touchdown and a two-point conversion, but those efforts fell short as COD took possession of the ball in the final few seconds.
The Chaparrals enjoyed an 8-2 regular season, averaging 200 passing and 195 rushing yards per game and earning invitations to three bowl games, said Head Coach Gary Thomas.
At the Citizens Bank Bowl, the team had 325 yards offensively, with 134 passing and 191 rushing.
For more information on Chaparral Football, call (630) 942-2364 or visit: www.cod.edu/dept/athletic/teams/football.htm.