BOTTINEAU, N.D. - Adversity can often help pull a football team closer together.
Head coach Kevin Twait is hoping that's exactly the case for his short-handed Iowa Central squad here today.
Aiming to regain their winning form, the Tritons (1-1 overall) will clash with non-conference foe Dakota College.
Kickoff is set for noon.
Last Saturday, Iowa Central suffered a deflating 35-28 road setback to College of DuPage, which is now ranked 17th in the latest NJCAA poll. The Tritons led by seven points with about five minutes remaining, before falling short in the end.
"We've got to do a better job of running the ball (Iowa Central was held to just 45 yards rushing on 25 carries over the final three quarters a week ago) and asserting ourselves on the line of scrimmage," Twait said. "We're going to see if we can make some more strides and get the sweet taste of victory back."
Iowa Central will be without the services of three starters for today's game, as Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Jontel Clayton (lower leg), former Manson Northwest Webster prep Kaden Cue (shoulder) and Brandynn Clark (hip pointer) are each sidelined with injuries.
Clayton currently ranks 11th nationally in yards on the ground with 203, including three touchdowns.
The 204-pound workhorse finished second in the country in rushing yards last season (1,477), and needs only 667 to become the program's all-time leading rusher.
Prior to today's action, Clayton had played in 39 straight games since midway through his sophomore year in high school.
Clark is also the top receiver for the Tritons with four catches for 101 yards and a score.
On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa Central surrendered 448 yards of total offense against the Chaparrals. All but one of those yards came through the air.
"We were stout against the run, and poor against the pass," said Twait. "Our entire defense really struggled to stop (DuPage)."
The Lumberjacks (0-1), who are in just their fifth-year of existence as an NJCAA independent, dropped a 22-14 decision at Concordia JV in their season-opener. Iowa Central prevailed in the two previous meetings (2009 and 2010) with Dakota College, outscoring the green and white by a lopsided combined margin of 123-7.
"They have some fine receivers, and a good quarterback, but don't appear to be as strong at the line of scrimmage," Twait said of the Lumberjacks. "We expect to see a lot of the same things we saw against Arkansas Baptist (the Tritons edged the Buffaloes by a 27-20 count in their 2012 debut)."