Graphic Edge Bowl Preview: No. 12 Monroe Football Set to Challenge No. 16 Iowa Central in Mustangs’


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa, November 29, 2018 – For the first time in the program's seven-year history, the Monroe College football team will be playing in an NJCAA bowl game. This Sunday, Dec. 2, the No. 12-ranked Monroe Mustangs will take on No. 16 Iowa Central Community College in the opening game of the Graphic Edge Bowl, which is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. CST (12 p.m. EST). The Graphic Edge Bowl matchup between the Mustangs and Tritons will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The Mustangs earned their way into the Graphic Edge Bowl by having a historical season. Their No. 12 ranking at the end of the regular season is tied for the highest in the program's history (ranked No. 12 earlier this season). Monroe is 7-1 at the end of the regular season, registering the fewest losses in the regular season in seven years as a program. The Mustangs are led on offense by 2018 Northeast Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Jalen Brown. The mobile signal-caller has completed 80 passes for 890 yards and seven touchdowns this season. As a rusher, Brown has accumulated 446 yards with eight scores. His 1,336 total yards in 2018 are the most in program history, while his eight rushing touchdowns are one shy of the program record of nine. Brown's 890 passing yards are also the second most in a single season for the Mustangs. Brown now owns the career rushing touchdown record with 12 in two seasons, and has more points scored (72) than anyone else in the football team's seven year history. Zaire and Jarious Jones lead backfield for the Mustangs. Zaire Jones is averaging 87.5 rushing yards per game, totaling 525 yards in six games. He is averaging 7.8 yards per carry, and has scored four touchdowns on the ground this season. Jarious Jones has been an explosive runner for the Mustangs this year, averaging 14.5 yards per carry and totaling 451 yards on just 31 carries. All five of his touchdown runs have come on rushes of 45 yards or longer, including a 95-yard touchdown against rival ASA College. Despite being a run-first offense, the Mustangs still tout some impressive pass catchers on the roster. Tyler Hodge leads the Mustangs in all receiving categories, including receptions (26), yards (310) and touchdowns (4). Nyjaliek Williams has 14 catches for 141 yards, including a pair of scores this season. Tight ends Shawn McFarland and Victor Mintz combined for 17 receptions, 190 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, Grant Melton leads the team with 57 total tackles on the season, adding two interceptions, three pass breakups and four tackles for loss in an impressive season. Joshua Boyd has been dominant in the defensive backfield, breaking up a team-high 10 passes this year, while also blocking a kick. Emmanuel Appiah-Tahkyi leads the Mustangs with three interceptions while also breaking up four passes. Niadre Zouzoua leads the Mustangs with five sacks in 2018, as well as six tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Jordan Valerius-Twyman has excelled on the defensive line with 4.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and a blocked kick. Rashon McNeil has 50 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup, while Jason Simon totaled 48 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss of yards, six breakups and a forced fumble. On special teams, kicker/punter Diogo Alves has made a pair of field goals, including a game-winning 42-yarder at Nassau Community College early in the season. He has punted the ball 35 times, averaging 37.1 yards per punt. He has made four punts of 50-or-more yards, including a long of 60 yards, and has landed 10 of them inside the 20-yard line. He is averaging 56.4 yards per kickoff with three touchbacks, while Alex Maier is averaging 54.4 yards per kickoff, including one touchback. The return game has been a strong suit for the Mustangs in 2018. As a team, Monroe averages an NJCAA best 32.1 yards per kickoff return, as well as 10.7 yards per punt return. The Mustangs have registered three kickoff return touchdowns and a punt return touchdown this season. Iowa Central enters Sunday's contest with a 7-4 overall record, riding a five-game winning streak to end the regular season. This year's Graphic Edge Bowl will be the first bowl game for the Tritons since 2014 and the 25th in program history. The Tritons have a 13-9 overall record at The Graphic Edge Bowl. Iowa Central turned things around this season under first-year head coach Jesse Montalto after winning just one game in 2017. Part of the reason for this is a strong passing attack, led by Blake Dever. Dever has thrown for 1,715 yards this season, completing 61.5 percent of his passes while throwing for 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Using a two-quarterback offense, Justin Blake has thrown for eight touchdowns and six interceptions, as well as 830 passing yards. Emmanuel Logan-Green has made 64 receptions for 761 yards and five touchdowns to lead the receiver corps for the Tritons. Rashad Witty has 608 yards on 51 catches with a team-high six receiving touchdowns. Draven Peeples is the team's leading rusher with 621 yards on the year. Blake, the dual-threat quarterback for the Tritons, has 489 rushing yards with seven touchdowns on the ground. Jatoviay Hill has rushed for four touchdowns with 315 yards. The Tritons are led defensively by Spencer Cuvelier, who has recorded a team-high 90 tackles on the season, including 19.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Daquan Cross has 72 tackles on the season, has forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles, picked off two passes and is tied for the team lead of 6.5 sacks with Michael Slater. Slater, Lamont Bishop and Justin Nutof all match Cross's two interceptions. Bishop also has three forced fumbles on the year with one recovery. Ty'Reim Stephens has a team-high 10 pass breakups while also registering an interception. Kicker Luke Noonan has made 4-of-7 field goals this season with a long of 47 yards. He has also made 35-of-41 extra points. Tyreke Williams is averaging 35.8 yards on 52 punts. He has made a long punt of 61 yards, landing nine punts inside the 20-yard line. The Tritons averaged 23.1 yards per kickoff return as a team, while Witty is averaging 28.4 yards on 19 kick returns. They are also averaging 7.3 yards per punt return on 15 attempts. With the Mustangs making The Graphic Edge Bowl, and NEFC counterpart Lackawanna College playing in the El Toro Bowl, 2018 is the first time since 2012 that more than one NEFC team will play in a bowl game. No. 6 Lackawanna takes on No. 19 Arizona Western Community College in the El Toro Bowl on Dec. 1 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Yuma, Ariz. The history of the Graphic Edge Bowl dates back to 1978, when Coffeyville Community College defeated Iowa Central, 35-13. Monroe will be the sixth New York-based team to play in the Graphic Edge Bowl, the first since Globe Tech in 2015. Nassau Community College has played in the bowl game twice (1996, 2004), while Hudson Valley Community College competed in the Graphic Edge Bowl in 1980 and 2003. Last year's Graphic Edge Bowl saw No. 3 Iowa Western Community College defeat Northwest Mississippi Community College, 36-19, in the featured game. Ellsworth Community College took down No. 20 Northland Community and Technical College, 55-14, in the opening game. Iowa Central last played in the Graphic Edge Bowl in 2014, when the Tritons beat No. 13 Rochester Community and Technical College, 41-27. ABOUT T

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