Chaparral Football Wins NJCAA Division III Championship

The Chaparral football team wins first national championship; final score 29-34

Devin Oommen, Staff Writer

The Chaparral football team won the NJCAA Division III championship Saturday in a game that was decided in the final seconds. 

The team, down by one point with less than 40 seconds left in the game, scored on a touchdown pass from quarterback Brooks Blount to receiver Matthew Brown to win the game.

Nassau Community College lines up for their final field goal (Devin Oommen)

Until the very last play the game remained competitive, with every lead change a national championship became just out of reach for each team. Nassau Community College, down 28-7 in the third quarter, scored three touchdowns, successfully completed two PAT attempts, and scored on their final field goal attempt to put them ahead 29-28 with 40 seconds left on the clock.

“I was just telling my teammates, “We got time. We gotta stay composed. Don’t get ahead of ourselves. Just do what we do,” Brown said. That confidence materialized with Brown catching a 33-yard pass from Blount and running for a touchdown with 21 seconds left in the game, earning him the game’s MVP award.

“I caught it, I turned around, first thing I did was check for flags, made sure there was no flags,” Brown said after the game. “It felt great. It felt surreal. I never thought I’d be in that position.”

The Chaparrals react after Matthew Brown scores the final touchdown. (Devin Oommen)

The inaugural NJCAA Division III championship game featured a matchup between the College of DuPage Chaparrals and the Nassau Community College Lions. The game was hosted at COD’s Bjarne Ullsvik Stadium on Dec. 4.

Defensive lineman Tom Trieb said the team came into the game with something to prove. The Chaparrals played the Lions on Oct. 16 in New York, losing that game with a final score of 15-17. The game was one of only two losses for the Chaparrals this season.

“Them coming here, we wanted to show them that we should have won that game, we should have never lost,” Trieb said. “We proved today we’re the best team in the nation.” 

Near the end of the first quarter, Trieb lined up on offense to bring the ball one yard into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game.

Trieb has been leading the defense this season with a total of 14 sacks. He is 2nd  in the nation for total sacks in NJCAA DIII football.

“Honestly, it was closer than we would have hoped for, but our offense pulled through when we needed them. The defense got the stops when we needed it. Great game, and I wouldn’t do it with any other team than the one we have,” said Trieb.

After a 76-yard touchdown run in the second quarter by running back Darrell Smith the Chaparrals were ahead 14-0 at halftime. They went up by 21 points after halftime with a touchdown pass from Blount to Jack Dorsey. But after being held scoreless in the first half Nassau scored their first touchdown in the third quarter. Immediately following Nassau’s first touchdown, Chaparral receiver Lazerick Eatman returned Nassau’s kickoff for a 94-yard touchdown run.

Nassau went on to eventually take a 29-28 lead until the final Chaparral touchdown gave the Chaparrals the win with a final score of 29-34.

In the first official NJCAA Division III national championship game the Chaparral football team ends the season with a 9-2 record and the team’s first national championship. 

Watch highlights from the game here.

Read more about the game and see game stats here.