GLEN ELLYN, Ill. - For the second straight season, the Iowa Central football team saw a potential victory against College of DuPage snatched away late.
In their Midwest Football Conference opener, the 15th-ranked (NJCAA) Tritons (1-1 overall, 0-1 MFC) suffered a crushing 35-28 setback to the No. 20 Chaparrals (3-0, 1-0) on Saturday.
Leading by seven points with around five minutes left in the game, Iowa Central was unable to hold off a furious last-ditch comeback attempt by the home squad.
"We desperately needed to make a first down and just couldn't get it," said ICCC head coach Kevin Twait. "The bottom line is we didn't run the ball well enough. Our pass defense really struggled, too, especially at a critical juncture of the game."
Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Jontel Clayton and Ronald Thompson each delivered rushing touchdowns for the Tritons. Clayton found paydirt from three yards out midway through the third quarter, while Thompson pushed Iowa Central in front early with a 10-yard jaunt.
Chris Bell also hooked up with Brandynn Clark on a 50-yard endzone strike for the Tritons in the final frame. Iowa Central's other score followed a forced fumble by Tom McClimon in the second period.
DuPage's game-winner came on a 45-yard touchdown pass in the final minute.
"We got caught in man coverage there," Twait said. "This was a bitter loss for us, but at the same time (the season) is a long journey with a lot of peaks and valleys. We have to go back to work now and make some more corrections heading into next week."
Iowa Central will try to rebound Saturday at Dakota College. Kickoff is set for noon in Bottineau, N.D.