C.H.A.M.P.S. HOT Bowl college football doubleheader tomorrow at Bulldawg Stadium

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

For fans of college football that are craving some live action, you can get your fix tomorrow at Bulldawg Stadium for the 17th Annual C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl college football doubleheader.
The early game will feature the NJCAA No. 8 ranked Trinity Valley Cardinals (8-3) and the No. 12 ranked Garden City Broncbusters (8-3).
The Trinity Valley Cardinals look to repeat as champions of the HOT bowl in their second-consecutive trip and fourth journey to Central Texas in the last five years.
“We are looking forward to playing in the Heart of Texas Bowl again,” said TVCC athletic director/head football coach Brad Smiley.  “We have had great experiences in Copperas Cove and we are excited to play a team that year in and year out is one of the best in Kansas.”
Sophomore quarterbacks Shelton Eppler and Jaylon Henderson lead the Cardinals’ offensive attack.
The duo combined for 232 completions on 415 attempts for 2,822 yards for 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Eppler leads the passing attack with 132 of 228 for 1,714 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions. Henderson also adds 342 yards and three scores as a rusher.
The Cardinals spread it out with nine different players having at least 10 catches, led by sophomores Tony Mullins (46 catches for 474 yards and one touchdown) and Torin Justics (41 catches for 528 yards and three TDs). When the Cardinals need a score through the air, however, they look for red-shirt freshman Tristen Wallace (25 catches for 417 yards and seven TDs) and sophomore Cam Wallace (26 catches for 356 yards and four TDs).
Sophomore Khalil Banks leads the rushing attack with 74 carries for 525 yards and 10 scores in just seven games. Red-shirt freshman Aphonzo Thomas adds 302 yards and three scores on 71 carries.
Sophomores Trey Baldwin and Blake Stephenson lead the Cardinals’ defense with 68 and 63 tackles, respectively, while sophomores Prince Robinson and Cassius Grady lead the team in interceptions with three each.
The Cardinals of the NJCAA Region XIV have local players freshman Tyri’k Barnes of Killeen Shoemaker, freshman Khalil Corbett-Canada of Harker Heights, sophomore Darrius Mosley of Killeen, red-shirt freshman Ryan Johnson of Belton and freshman Jermaine Townsend of Temple.
Head coach Brad Smiley will coach his final bowl game as he tendered his resignation after 11 years and the best record in school history at 68-39.
The Broncbusters’ offense is led by red-shirt freshman Terry Wilson (164 for 260 passing for 1,776 yards and 22 touchdowns to just nine interceptions.
His favorite targets are red-shirt sophomores Daniel Davis (58 catches for 578 yards and four TDs) and Nigel Kilby (38 catches for 430 yards and eight TDs).
The Bronbucters’ rushing attack is led by red-shirt freshmen Charles West (164 carries for 964 yards and eight TDs) and Terry Wilson (109 carries for 454 yards and five scores).
Defensively, sophomores Matt Terrell and Auston Robertson led the way for the Broncbusters with 83 and 71 tackles, respectively. Red-shirt freshman Warren Saba has five picks while freshman Andreus Price and red-shirt sophomore Meiko Dotson add three interceptions each.
The Broncbusters hail from the NJCAA Region VI (Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference) and enter the HOT Bowl on a four-game win-streak.
“We had four different invitations,” athletic director John Green said. “But the coaching staff assessed the competition level, and they felt like this was the best opportunity.”
Garden City Head Coach Jeff Sims wanted a test for his team and thinks he found it in one of the top scoring teams in the nation. The Cardinals finished fourth in total points scored, and seventh in total offense.
“Our guys wanted a good test,” said Sims. “And we are going into this game like it’s the Super Bowl.”
The NCAA Division II Angelo State Rams (6-4) of the Lone Star Conference will face the Washburn Ichabods (6-5) of the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association in the late game with a 6 p.m. kickoff. This is the first NCAA Div. II bowl game in program history despite this being their 15th postseason appearance.
“It is an honor to be selected to play in the Heart of Texas Bowl and to face a quality opponent in Washburn,” ASU head coach Will Wagner said. “It is a great opportunity to extend our season, and the extra game will be a benefit to our program with extra practices. It will be another chance for our players to showcase Ram football.”
Senior quarterback Jake Faber and sophomore QB Charlie Rotherham split time under center. Faber leads the way with 134 of 220 passing for 1,703 yards and 16 scores with four interceptions. Rotherham adds 134 completions on 232 attempts for 1,553 yards and six scores with five picks.
Senior Donovan Thompson leads the team in receptions with 50 for 716 yards and a score but sophomore Lawson Ayo leads the team in touchdown catches with seven on 45 catches for 643 yards.
Senior Josh Stevens leads the rushing attack for the Rams with 171 carries for 857 yards and 11 scores. Faber and Rotherham combined for eight more rushing touchdowns on 109 carries for 318 yards.
Junior Justin Jackson leads the defense with 105 total tackles and a second-best two interceptions. Senior Fred Lawrence leads the team with three picks. Junior Markus Jones has four forced fumbles.
Sophomore quarterback Blake Peterson leads the Ichabods’ offense with 171 completions on 311 attempts for 2,054 yards and 15 TDs to just five interceptions.
Junior James Brania-Hopp (37 catches for 591 yards and five TDs) and senior Carey Woods (36 catches for 403 yards and five TDs) lead the Washburn receivers while senior Mickeel Stewart (144 carries for 624 yards and seven scores), sophomore Zach Willis (89 attempts for 578 yards and four TDs) and Peterson (113 carries for 609 yards and five scores) leads the rushing attack.
Junior Derrick McGreevy leads the defense with 122 tackles and two forced fumbles. Senior D.J. Olmstead has six interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns, to lead the back end of the defense.
“We are honored the Heart of Texas Bowl selected us for the game,” said Washburn head coach Craig Schurig. “This is an awesome opportunity for our seniors who will get an extra game after putting in all the work in our program as they have now have helped lead our program to back to back bowl games. Additionally, it is a great opportunity to play a tough Lone Star Conference opponent facing Angelo State for the first time in program history.”
For more information on all four teams competing in the 17th Annual C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl, check out the 32-page game day magazine included in today’s edition of the Copperas Cove Leader-Press.
The 17th Annual C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl is sponsored by the City of Copperas Cove, Hoffpauir’s Auto Group, SprintTurf and Carter Construction Company. Reserved seating tickets are on sale for $20 and can be purchased on the campus of each university. General admission seats are available at the gate on game day for $10.

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