The Lions are headed for the Valley of the Sun.
Nassau Community College's 48-20 win over ASA College in the Northeast Football Conference Championship Game last Saturday represents two things.
One was revenge. ASA had been the biggest of thorns in the Lions' side recently, topping them in the last two conference title games. Last season, ASA won, 37-7.
"We ended last season with a loss," running back Yahkee Johnson said. "We didn't get to go to a bowl game. That's all I thought about [in the offseason] . . . It left a bad taste in our mouth."
Johnson was at the forefront of the redemptive victory last Saturday, rushing for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
Now, the sophomore doesn't have to think about what could have been. The title gave the sixth-ranked Lions (10-0) a berth in the Valley of the Sun Bowl, where they will face No. 7 Scottsdale Community College (8-2) Dec. 6 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The win also represents the culmination of a much larger theme -- the reassertion of Lions dominance. Entering the season, Nassau had a 114-33 record over the last 13 seasons, including four bowl berths. Despite the regular-season success, the Lions haven't won a bowl game since 1996, when they beat North Dakota State College of Science in the Graphic Edge Bowl, coach Joe Osovet said.
That dominance was never in question against ASA. The Lions scored on their first three possessions, jumping out to a 21-0 lead.
"When we got up 21-0, I said to everybody 'don't think it's over. ASA fights,' " Rasul Douglas, a cornerback who is being recruited by Florida State, West Virginia, Louisville, and Rutgers, said. "We had to stay strong and blow them out . . . We had to keep kicking them in. That's what we did. We're champions."