CEDAR FALLS - Ellsworth Community College provided a graphic demonstration of junior college football dominance.
Coming into Sunday's Graphic Edge Bowl at the UNI-Dome ranked No. 13 in the NJCAA polls, the Panthers dismantled No. 9 Central Lakes College 64-7, dominating in every aspect of the game.
Behind 171 yards passing and 122 yards rushing from sophomore quarterback Tirrell Rennie, Ellsworth rolled up more than 600 total yards while holding the Raiders to 146 yards and nine first downs.
"We're capable of beating anybody in the nation, flat-out, but going into a game you just don't know," said Ellsworth coach Mike Virden. "But our kids did a great job preparing for this game and they did exactly what we talked about doing, which was to come out from the very beginning and make plays."
After a sack and fumble recovery by defensive tackle Aaron Strumski on Central Lakes' first possession, it took Ellsworth just two plays to score, on an 8-yard run by Tyrell Austin. With relentless efficiency, the Panthers went on to extend the lead to 22-0 after one quarter, 50-0 by halftime, and 57-0 after one drive in the third period.
"For a lot of us, this was going to be our last game together, so we had a dream to just leave everything on the field today," said Rennie, who provided the day's marquee play with a spinning, juking 73-yard TD run in the second quarter. "This was the first game that I can honestly say everybody went full-speed, 100 percent - nobody took a play off, no matter what."
The Panthers scored on an interception return (by Des Moines East graduate Neal Issa), a fumble recovery (by Johnnie Lloyd) and a halfback option pass (from Jonathon Aiken to Quintin Robinson). Rennie's big day, meanwhile, boosted his season numbers to more than 3,000 passing yards, more than 1,000 rushing yards and a combined 37 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Panther defense stonewalled Raider workhorse Dennis Taute, limiting him to negative-2 yards on 18 carries.
"We probably played our best defensive game today," said linebacker Gus Mormann, an Edgewood-Colesburg graduate.
The Raiders (10-2), who play in the non-scholarship Minnesota College Athletic Conference, were simply overmatched against Ellsworth, who went 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the tough Midwest Football Conference.
"We had a nice, successful season, and for us it was an opportunity to see how we really do stack up against everybody else in the country," said coach Greg Medeck, who led CLC to its first bowl appearance since 1988. "We weren't going to turn down an opportunity to come down here and experience this."
The Raiders finally lit the scoreboard late in the third period on quarterback Andrew Maskell's eighth TD pass of the season, a 29-yarder to Tyler Erickson.
For many Ellsworth players, finishing the season with a big win in the UNI-Dome provided a lasting memory.
"I'm from Iowa Falls, so I kind of grew up knowing about Ellsworth football," said tight end John Rabe. "In high school I never got the chance to play here, so to do it as an Ellsworth Panther in a bowl game is pretty awesome."
Ellsworth 22 28 7 7 - 64
Central Lakes 0 0 7 0 - 7
Ell-Austin 8 run (Rabe pass from Smith) 12:47
Ell-Wallace 5 run (Disalvo kick) 1:30
Ell-Issa 15 interception return (Disalvo kick), :31
Ell-Robinson 26 pass from Aiken (Disalvo kick) 12:38
Ell-Lloyd fumble recovery in endzone (Disalvo kick) 10:41
Ell-Rennie 73 run (Disalvo kick) 5:28
Ell-Austin 2 run (Disalvo kick) 1:01
Ell-Rennie 2 run (Disalvo kick) 7:37
CL-Erickson 29 pass from Maskell (Castro kick) :15
Ell-Wallace 37 pass from Rowe (Disalvo kick) 11:50
First downs Ell 24, CLC 9
Rushing yards Ell 324, CLC 33
Passing yards Ell 230, CLC 101
Comp-Att-Int Ell 18-29-0, CLC 8-26-1
Return yards Ell 64, CLC 12
Punts-avg. Ell 3-41.6, CLC 10-36.1
Fumbles-lost Ell 2-1, CLC 3-2
Penalties-yards Ell 9-80, CLC 3-20
Rushing: ELLSWORTH-Rennie 6-122, Wallace 8-52, Austin 8-52, Rowe 7-40, Walsh 3-18, Thomas 2-23, Coleman 2-9, Bengston 2-6, Brown 1-2; CENTRAL LAKES-Taute 18-(minus-2), Robbins 9-32, Iverson 2-14, Leach 2-1, Maskell 2-(minus-3), Gatzemeyer 1-(minus-9).
Passing: ELLSWORTH-Rennie 15-22-0, 171 yards; Rowe 2-2-0, 3 yards; Aiken 1-1-0, 26 yards; Bengston 0-4-0; CENTRAL LAKES - Maskell 6-22-1, 96 yards; Gatzemeyer 2-4-0, 5 yards.
Receiving: ELLSWORTH - Aiken 4-52, Thomas 4-47, Robinson 3-48, Wallace 3-33, Werkman 1-16, St. Fort 1-15, Austin 1-10, Rabe 1-9, CENTRAL LAKES-Erickson 3-42, Kramer 2-34, Leach 2-15, Beehler 1-10.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.