Blinn (3-0, 1-0 SWJCFC) will look to hand the defending Division I national champions their first loss of the season. Meanwhile, NMMI (4-0, 2-0) is looking to hold onto a No. 1 ranking it has owned since Dec. 23, 2021.
“Every game is an opportunity, and we’re looking at this as an opportunity to go beat the top team in the nation,” Blinn head coach Ryan Mahon said. “For us, this is the biggest game of the season because it’s the next game on our schedule, but now it’s even bigger because of that No. 1 next to NMMI’s name. It’s a number we want at some point, and if we want it, we have to go out and take it.”
In four contests this fall, the Broncos have collected non-conference wins over Papago Pumas Junior College and Snow, as well as SWJCFC victories over Navarro and Kilgore. Blinn is coming off a bye in Week 4 after previously defeating Louisiana Community Christian, Rezolution Prep, and Cisco, all at home.
The Buccaneers hope to continue an early-season trend of stout defense and power rushing. Their defense leads the nation in yards allowed per game (53.3) while sitting second in points surrendered (4.3), while the offense owns NJCAA Division I bests in total rushing yards (962) and rushing yards per game (320.7).
Leading the charge in the Blinn running game has been the two-headed attack of sophomore halfback JJ Branham (252 yards and four touchdowns) and freshman back Willie Eldridge (239 yards and three scores).
The Bronco defense, which operates out of a 3-4 formation, has allowed 136 rushing yards a game.
“With the one-two punch of myself and Willie we have a really good combination,” Branham said. “I can come out of a game for a few plays and we don’t miss a beat. We have running backs that pick up right where the guy before you left off.”
The Bucs have also been effective throwing the ball, with freshman quarterback Brock Bolfing doing an admirable job in his first collegiate season with 392 yards and three touchdowns on 31-of-42 passing (73.8%). Sophomore wide receivers Canen Adrian (162 yards and two touchdowns) and Tre Harden (111 and two) have been Bolfing’s favorite targets thus far.
Blinn currently ranks as the NJCAA’s most efficient offensive squad with Division I highs of 50.7 points per game, 486 yards per game, 962 total rushing yards, and 320.7 rushing yards per outing. The Bucs’ 14 touchdowns on the ground are tied for second in the nation.
Offensively, NMMI runs a spread offense that has produced 38.3 points per game (seventh-best in the NJCAA). The Broncos had to put its offensive firepower to the test in Weeks 3 and 4 as they were forced to outlast threats from conference foes Navarro (40-35) and Kilgore (31-24).
“They run the spread more than they have in the past and they have some speedy receivers that they’re going to feed and try to get behind our defenders,” Mahon said. “Our goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
NMMI averages 250.8 yards through the air (ranked seventh) and has tossed the nation’s second-most TDs with 13. Freshman quarterback Koby Muasau has 910 yards on the season with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Broncos have three receivers in Terrence Moore, Malik Phillips, and Treyvion Beamon who have at least 266 receiving yards and three TDs.
Linebacker Nate Dyman was a part of a Blinn roster that endured two setbacks to NMMI in 2021 (regular season and conference playoffs), but the sophomore said his unit is ready for a challenge this week.
“We added some things to our defensive playbook and we feel like we’re prepared,” Dyman said. “It’s going to be all about how we put it together on the field and how we come together as a group. That will be key for us.”
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.