CEDAR FALLS | Slow starts have been part of the Ellsworth Community College football team's makeup all season.
So, it was no surprise Sunday when the Panthers shook off some early struggles and blew past Globe Institute, 32-19 in the first game of the annual Graphic Edge Bowl doubleheader in the UNI-Dome.
After losing five of its first six games to begin the year, Ellsworth won its final five to get into the bowl. Sunday, the Panthers were nicked for a handful of big plays early, then settled in and turned things around.
"We have been off since Nov. 7, and that is a long time not getting to play," Ellsworth coach Jesse Montalto said. "We had a good game plan coming into the game, but we had to change it up a little on both sides of the ball due to the way the game started.
"Our guys adjusted well and we began to wear them down."
The Knights took the opening kick off and drove to the Panther 30-yard line where they faced a fourth-and-16 situation. Ellsworth forced Globe quarterback Anthony Cruz out of the pocket, but left Trevor Ben all alone down the right sideline, and Cruz found him for a touchdown.
The Panthers answered on their next series as JuJuan Young-Battle flipped a pass to Jaleel Scott to cut the deficit to 7-6. The extra point failed, leaving Ellsworth down by one.
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The deficit grew to 13-6 when Globe recovered a Panther fumble in the end zone, and Ellsworth took another hit when Young-Battle had to leave the game with an injury in the second quarter.
Iowa City High graduate Mitch Wieland took over and guided the Panthers to a late score with a toss to Jerry Jones to make it 13-12 at the half.
"We had not had any live action for a while and that might be the reason for the slow start," Montalto said. "But our guys stayed with it, and Mitch has always prepared himself like a professional and he was ready to go. We just started to wear them down and our guys found a way to win."
With sophomore running back Xavier Washpun pounding away at the Globe defense and the Ellsworth defense smothering the Knights' attack, it was a different game in the second half.
"We knew that we just had to keep fighting and make the adjustments needed as we went," said Washpun. "We won this game at the line on both sides of the ball. It was there all game and when it started to click, the adrenaline just took over."
Globe Institute;13;0;0;6 -- 19
Ellsworth;6;6;14;6 -- 32
Globe - Trevor Ben 30 pass from Anthony Cruz (Fritz Paul kick)
Ells - Jaleel Scott 20 pass from JuJuan Young-Battle (run failed)
Globe - Davonta Maura recovered fumble in end zone (kick failed)
Ells - Jerry Jones 7 pass from Mitch Wieland (run failed)
Ells - Xavier Washpun 3 run (Marcel Williams pass from Wieland)
Ells - Johnathan Boone 23 pass from Wieland (pass failed)
Ells - Brandon McCracken recovered fumble in end zone (kick failed)
Globe - Cruz 18 run (run failed)
Iowa West. 20,
Ga. Military 6
CEDAR FALLS -- Iowa Western's defense dominated Georgia Military as the Reviers won Sunday's second game.
Georgia Military finished with minus-1 yard in total offense, and its lone score came on a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown.
"This has got to be the most dominating defensive effort I have ever seen," said Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier, whose team improved to 10-2. "They dominated from the start and they never let up.
"I don't know where this will put us in the rankings, but I would like to see a top two or three spot. We proved today that we can play with the tough teams."
The Bulldogs (8-3) entered the UNI-Dome rated 19th and averaged over 35 points per game.
Iowa Western freshman quarterback Brock Larson managed the game well, completing 26 passes for 185 yards and two scores, both to Taj Williams.
"Some questioned our quarterback situation, but we put Brock in a position to be successful and today he was," Strohmeier said. "We started out the season at 0-2, and we could have went the other way with the year.
"We had our ups and downs and tonight was definitely an up. We pride ourselves in our defense and give credit to them and the whole staff for putting this game plan together."
Georgia Military;0;0;0;6 -- 6
Iowa Western;10;3;7;0 -- 20
IW - Taj Williams15 pass from Brock Larsen (Bobby Patterson kick)
IW - FG Patterson 24
IW - FG Patterson 25
IW - Williams 12 pass from Larsen (Patterson kick)
GM - Marquise Motley 41 yard blocked punt return (kick failed)