Yuma, Arizona - Two top-20 teams are set to collide once again in the El Toro Bowl. Since its return in 2011, the game has featured teams from all around the country, and 2018 will be no different. This year’s version will pit the sixth-ranked Lackawanna Falcons (10-0) against the 19th ranked Arizona Western College Matadors (6-4) on Saturday, December 1, at 1 p.m.
Lackawanna has never played in the El Toro Bowl, and the Falcons are on a roll after closing the regular season with a 30-15 win over Georgia Military. Lackawanna has been in the NJCAA Top 10 for nine straight weeks. During eight of those 10 weeks, LC has been sixth, its highest ranking this year.
Lackawanna quarterback Shane McLaughlin leads the way with 1,741 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. McLaughlin’s main targets have been Harrison Dreher (35 receptions, 427 yards, two touchdowns) and Javon Turner (22 receptions, 463 yards, nine TD’s). Meanwhile, Darius Brown (616 rushing yards), Nasir Hooker (403 rushing yards) and Rashard Jackson (350 rushing yards) have split the load on the ground. On defense, JaQuan Brisker leads the team in tackles (57), sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (16).
AWC is coming off of a season-ending win, 24-20, over Pima where Logan Byrd ran it into the end zone from one yard out with less than one minute to play. AWC has bounced around the top 20 all year and has only been out of the top 20 once (last week). The Mats were as high as number three in the preseason polls and have spent most of the year between 10 and 20.
The Mats have used a powerful ground game to power the offense during the year with Jadon Hayes (634 rushing yards, five touchdowns) leading the way. John Oliver (553 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and Kendon Walker (407 rushing yards, five touchdowns) also share the load with Hayes. Quarterback Jacquez Carter adds a rushing element with his feet and leads the team with six rushing touchdowns to go with 190 rushing yards. Byrd also has three rushing scores and has led the way passing the football with 1,449 yards and four touchdowns. Five receivers have caught at least 20 passes: Troy’Von Johnson (33 receptions, 309 yards); Dallas Daniels (30 receptions, 279 yards); DeAndre Wallace (24 receptions, 399 yards, two touchdowns); Bryce Parker (21 receptions, 244 yards, two touchdowns); and Johnny King (20 receptions, 230 yards).
The El Toro Bowl has a long history of bringing top junior college football talent to Yuma. The game has been the NJCAA Football Championship twice (2011 and 2016), and teams from 10 different states across the country have played in the game.
The game is family friendly, and tickets are only $10 for reserved seats and $5 for general admission. The AWC Foundation and Yuma 50 are hosting a tailgate at 11:00 a.m.
All profit from the bowl game goes to scholarships through the Matador Athletic Association and the AWC Foundation.