YUMA, Ariz. – Defense wins championships. The old mantra has held true this football season for both Arizona Western College and Garden City Community College. Now, the top two teams in the NJCAA will meet in the title game at the El Toro Bowl in Yuma on Saturday December 3. Kick-off is set for 1:00 pm at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Garden City (10-0 overall) has held the first spot in the NJCAA polls since October 17. The Broncbusters have held opponents to a mere 7.8 points per game (best in the nation). Plus, the defense has forced 30 turnovers and holds opponents to 200 yards per game. Sophomore linebacker Delshawn Phillips leads the team with 84 tackles, and redshirt sophomore Jamie Tago has a team-high 9.5 sacks.
A stifling defense powered Arizona Western (11-0 overall) all season long. AWC held the top spot in the poll for the last two weeks of September, but they dropped after the computer rankings were introduced. The Matadors only allow 8.0 points per game (second best in the nation), and they have forced 43 turnovers. The defense has also scored six touchdowns this season. Sophomore linebacker Patrick Macon leads the team with 117 tackles and 27.5 tackles for loss, and defensive end Chris Favoroso has 10.5 sacks.
Both teams use a punishing ground game. The Matadors are fifth in the nation with 250 rushing yards per game, with freshman Greg Bell III leading the way with 1145 rushing yards. Sophomore Trey Rodriguez has added 809 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Garden City averages 201 rushing yards per game, with redshirt freshman Tra Minter leading the team with 1231 yards and 10 touchdowns.
For the Matadors, this is the first time they have played in the national championship since 2011. The school last won the championship back in 1972. Garden City last played in the national championship in 1997, but the Busters have never won the national title.
Tickets are on sale now for the El Toro Bowl, and they are a great value! Reserved tickets are $10, and general admissions tickets only cost $8. Youth tickets are $5. Tickets are available at the Caballeros de Yuma office at the Old City Hall building in downtown Yuma Monday-Friday from 9:00 am-5:00 pm or at the AWC Athletic office on the Yuma Campus from 9:00 am-11:00 am and 1:00 pm-3:00 pm.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,400 certificates and degrees in 2015-16.