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EPHRAIM, Utah - The Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl announced today that Snow College, ranked first in the National Junior College Athletic Association, will meet second-ranked Butler Community College at 12 p.m. Saturday, December 1 in Rice-Eccles Stadium located on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City. The match-up will most likely decide the NJCAA football championship.
"The Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl was organized with this very game in mind - an NJCAA championship. We have the right teams, the right venue and the right support from sponsors, fans and media to stage this game," said Kevin White, executive director of the Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl Committee."
This is the second time Snow and Butler will meet - the Badgers defeated the Grizzlies 17-14 in the 2005 Top of the Mountains Bowl. Both teams enter the game 11-0 having spent the entire season ranked in the NJCAA top five. Butler has won four NJCAA football championships - most recently in 2003 - and is playing in a title game for the seventh time. Snow won it's only appearance in an NJCAA title game in 1985.
Snow is led by Coach Steve Coburn, 22-1 in two seasons as head coach. The Badgers are the Western States Football League champions for the second straight year and third in five seasons. Snow's offense and defense are both second in the NJCAA statistically. The Badgers allow just 155 yards a game - 48 yards rushing and 107 yards passing. Defensive leaders include Shane Hunter, a linebacker with 48 tackles including 10.5 sacks; Josh Sharp, a linebacker with 62 tackles, four sacks and one interception; Coleby Clawson, a defensive end with eight sacks and Andrew Rich, a safety who leads the team with 100 tackles, four interceptions and seven pass breakups. The Badger offense averages 457 yards per game - 245 rushing and 212 passing. Soni Sotele, a running back rated eighth in the NJCAA, carried the ball 219 times for 1,317 yards and 18 touchdowns while Tiu Takai had 134 carries for 922 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Jon Eastman completed 79 of 132 passes for 1,403 yards and 13 touchdowns in just six games. Eastman broke a foot midseason but returned to quarterback Snow for the final two regular season games.
The Grizzlies bring the nation's longest winning streak into the game - 14-0 dating back to last season. Butler won the Jayhawk Conference title for the seventh time in 10 years and Coach Troy Morrell was rewarded as the conference coach of the year. In addition, eight Grizzlies were named to the conference first team and five to the second team.
Butler's defense is rated seventh in the NJCAA giving up just 226 yards per game - 74 rushing and 152 passing. The defense is led by Markus White, a defensive end who had 85 tackles - including 24.5 sacks, and is the Jayhawk Conference defensive most valuable player; Swanson Miller, a defensive tackle with 74 tackles - 5.5 sacks; and Maurice Gray, a cornerback with 44 tackles, four interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Butler's offense is led by Beau Johnson - the third-rated running back in the NJCAA. Johnson rushed 237 times for 1,546 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.
KJZZ TO TELEVISE
For the first time in four years, the Zions Bank Top of the Mountians Bowl has a television partner. KJZZ television, located in Salt Lake City, will provide the live broadcast. KJZZ is the flagship station for the NBA's Utah Jazz, MiLB's Salt Lake Bees and the broadcast partner for Utah State University, Weber State University and the Utah High School Activities Association.
Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl
Zions Bank returns as the title sponsor for the fourth consecutive year. The Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl provides a first class bowl experience for two junior college football teams with preference given to Snow College located in Ephraim, Utah. As long as Snow finishes above .500 they will host the game. Proceeds from the game will go to the Snow College Foundation for general scholarships.
Tickets are $10 for adults, children and senior citizens. University, college and high school students may purchase tickets for $5 with a student ID. To purchase tickets, dial the Snow College athletic office at (435) 283-7020 or visit www.topofthemountainsbowl.com. Tickets will also be available in the Rice-Eccles Stadium ticket office on game day approximately one hour before kickoff.