The Rain Runs Red On The Red Grange Bowl; Lions Maul The Pioneers

Miguel Contreras III, Sports Editor

Reading Time: 2 minutes

    A steady tempo of freezing rain settled over the College of Dupage, brittle cold gnawed at the bones of players and spectators alike, and snow on the ground dissipated to a dangerous slippery slush; this was the calm before the storm.

    The COD’s third annual Red Grange Bowl, which honors the legacy of Red “The Galloping Ghost” Grange, set the stage between the two non-scholarship national contenders, Nassau Community College Lions against Northland Community and Technical College Pioneers.

    The crowd came for a spectacle. What they got was a massacre.

    From the moment the football rested on the kicking tee for kick off, it was clear that this contest would be more than just between the Lions and the Pioneers, they had to battle the elements too. Players bounced in thermal bundles on the sidelines in an effort to stay warm, struggling to stay loose as offense transitioned to special teams, to defence, and back again.

    The conditions for the war of attrition was set, and the Lions struck first. The Pioneers looked frustrated and uncoordinated as they scrambled to play together on both sides of the football. The Lions took advantage of this dysfunction and opened the game with a series of rushes and short passing routes to crack the pioneers defence in three of their first four possessions, scoring a 17-0 lead in the first quarter.

    With the game threatening to escape them already, the Pioneers brawled with the Lions.

    They pummeled their way down the field, capping the drive with a one yard run from quarterback Craig Wells. As the game wound down towards the halftime, it seemed that the Pioneers may have wrestled back some control of the game. But the Lions had other ideas, with 1:23 left in the second quarter, Nassau quarterback Steven Genoa complete a 30 yard strike to Jaelin Hood down field to nullify Northland’s counter.

    As the teams escaped the torturous conditions outside and warmed during half time, the weather only grew worse. In most situations a 24-6 lead is imposing, but here, only the tenacious would emerge victorious.

    The game became sloppy. Pockets broke down, forcing quarterbacks on both teams to have to be creative as their line searched for solid footing. Passes hit receivers in the hands, but completed with the ball hitting the ground rather than a reception. Turnovers ran rampant in a clumsy series of fumbles and interceptions on behalf of both teams.

    But where the Pioneers faltered, the Lions thrived, amounting to a 22-0 second half hammering. Second half scoring contributions included touchdowns from Joshua Okechukwu, a 55-yard TD pass from Rashad Tucker, a 29-yard tally from Nelson and a one-yard run from Jude Innocent.As sheets of rain plummet onto the field, the Pioneers were all defeated. Even as some fans made their way to the exits before the game close, and the Lions put the finishing touches on their 46-6 victory, the onslaught of unrelenting and bloodthirsty cries of the Nassau faithful could be heard from all around.