By Tonya Swim
Albuquerque, New Mexico- Offense wins games, Defense wins Championships. That is a comment heard over and over in the sport of football and that was proven in the Champions Indoor League Championship game.
Conner Hollanbaugh, formerly of the Amarillo Venom, stepped in as kicker to replace the injured Jason Nachu for Duke City. The kickoff bounced off of the wall and Sioux City will start on their own five yard line.
A low, right snap started off the Bandits first possession and although Liam Nadler picked it up and got the pass off, it was incomplete. He handed off to Darrian Miller for a five yard gain then another incomplete pass brought Greg Conry and the field goal team out. The attempt was wide left and at 12:33 in the first, the game remained scoreless.
Beginning on their own five yard line, Calab Holbrook rolls out a pass to Juwan Lewis and another handoff to Lewis will bring up the first and 10 with the ball on the Bandits 11. Holbrook found Jared Elmore in the end zone where he caught the ball and rolled over the wall for his eighth touchdown with the Gladiators this season. Hollanbaugh's PAT was good and Duke City goes up 7 Sioux City 0.
The kickoff bounced out of the end zone and the Bandits start on their own five yard line.
Flags for offside against Duke City moved the ball up to the 10 and a pass to Brandon Shepherd was complete and brought the first and 10 but stopped on the Bandits 17 by Fred Griggs. Gladiators Brett Bowers drew the flag for offsides moving the ball up to the Bandits 22 then Nadler pitched to Miller who was met by Jayson Serda, Matt Moss and Fatu Utale for a stop and one yard gain. An incomplete pass brought up third and five then Nadler found Frederick Bruno with a pass that was stopped by Paul Robinson on the Duke City 18. Nadler in-completed another pass, then fakes a handoff and again did not complete the pass, but on the next play a false start will move the ball back to the Duke City 23. An incomplete pass and a flag on the Bandits backs them up to their own 17 then Nadler was nearly sacked by Serda, but was able to find Miller with a pass and getting the ball to the Duke City 19. Another off side on Bowers would move the ball up to the Duke City 14 then a pass to Bruno would be stopped by D. Johnson on the Duke City eight. Miller got the handoff but was pushed back by Moss and D. Johnson for a loss of two. Next pass was incomplete then a pass tipped by Griggs was incomplete bringing out Conry for the field goal attempt which went wide right. 2:23 left in the first, Duke City 7 Sioux City 0.
The next Duke City possession started with a pass tipped by Isaac Wright but still completed, and a flag against them put them back on their own five. Holbrook connected with Clifton Rhodes for the first and 10 at midfield then hands off to Rhodes who was stopped by Ben Pister for a loss of three. Holbrook scrambled and slid to the Bandits 24 and the first quarter ended.
Second quarter started with Holbrook being intercepted by Soloman St. Pierre and the Bandits take over on the Duke City 15.
Nadler used two handoffs to Miller to get them on them on the board. The PAT is good and at 14:00 in the second, Duke City 7 Sioux City 7.
The kickoff was taken by Rhodes up to the Duke City 17. An incomplete pass brought up second and 10 but a pass to Elmore restarted the downs with the ball on the Bandits 20. Holbrook handed off to Lewis for a 10 yard gain then a pitch out to Lewis, who went up the middle to the Bandits four. Holbrook found Sedric Johnson and touchdown. Hollanbaugh extra point is good and at 10:56 in the second, Duke City 14 Sioux City 7.
Shepherd took the kickoff out to the Bandits 13.
A handoff to Miller was stopped by Bowers with a one yard gain, then two incomplete passes and a pass interference flag against D. Johnson would move the ball to the Bandits 19. Miller would get the ball up to the Bandits 23 but two incomplete passes, one broken up by Griggs, would bring out the field goal team. The attempt was good and with 6:57 left in the half, Duke City 14 Sioux City 10.
Rhodes took the next kickoff out to their own 24 then Holbrook connected with S. Johnson to move the ball to the Bandits 22. A fake handoff and keeper moved them up to the 16 then an incomplete pass and pass to Dello Davis will move the ball to the Bandits 12. An incomplete pass will bring up the fourth down and Hollanbaugh out for the field goal attempt, which was no good with 2:59 left in the half.
Bruno got the ball out to their own 10 than took a pass to get it out to the Bandits 21. Nadler handed off to Miller who got to the Gladiator 14 before Paul Robinson stopped the progression then a pitch to Bruno was stopped by D. Johnson for no gain. The next play Bowers got the Nadler and took him down. Time out.
Nadler passed to Miller bringing up first and 10 on the Gladiator 4. With 24.8 seconds left in the half, Nadler handed off to Miller who went in for the touchdown but the referee put the ball on the one and a challenge flag came out. After review the ruling was a touchdown and the Conry PAT added an extra one. 7.2 seconds left in the half, Duke City 14 Sioux City 17.
The kickoff bounced out of the end zone and the Gladiators start on their own five. A pass to Rhodes will bring up second and five. Time out Duke City. The half would end after and incomplete pass.
The second half would start with the Bandits kicking off and the ball being taken out by Davis. A face mask stop would add the 15 yards for the personal foul putting the ball on the Bandits 20. Holbrook handed off to Lewis for an eight yard gain, then the handoff to Rhodes for a one yard loss. The Bandits defense pressured Holbrook into a keeper for one yard, but an incomplete pass would bring up fourth and ten and Hollanbaugh out. The 26 yard field goal attempt was good and at 11:56 in the third, Duke City 17 Sioux City 17.
A short kickoff was taken by Marcus Miles up to the Gladiators 19 and was stopped by Griggs.
Nadler handed off to Miller for a three yard gain then a pass to Bruno, again stopped by Griggs, would bring up third and one on the Gladiators 10. Nadler handed off to Miller, but Serda was there for a loss of one then a bad snap made Conry work for his field goal, he found the uprights and with 9:42 left in the third, Duke City 17 Sioux City 20.
The kickoff bounced and hit the wall starting the Gladiators out on their own five.
Holbrook handed off to Lewis, but Anttonio Brown was there and stopped him for a loss of one. A pass to Davis was incomplete due to coverage by CJ Jones then another incomplete pass, but an interference flag on Jones would move the ball up to the Gladiators 19. A fake and pass to Davis got the ball to the Bandits 15 then a fake pitch and pass to S. Johnson would add six to the board. The PAT was good and with 6:56 left in the third, Duke City 24 Sioux City 20.
A kickoff taken by Miller would be stopped by Griggs on the Bandits 18.
Nadler was pressured into a run and was taken down by Serda on the Bandits 19. A pitch to Bruno would gain five, but an incomplete pass would bring up fourth down. Another bad snap would find Conry picking up the ball and pass. D. Johnson was there for the interception but didn't bring the ball in and with 4:11 left in the third the score remains Duke City 24 Sioux City 20.
Holbrook handed off to Lewis to get the ball out to the Bandits 15, then the next play Holbrook took the ball, dropped it, grabbed it and took off in a run to pick up the first down on the Bandits 13. A handoff to Lewis was stopped at the eight by Brown with a helmet to helmet tackle and Lewis would not return to the game. A flag against the Bandits would put the ball on the half hash then a handoff to Rhodes with Sherman Carter blocking would put Rhodes in the end zone. The PAT was good and with 1:02 left in the third, Duke City 31 Sioux City 20.
The Bandits would get the ball on their own five after the kickoff bounced out of the end zone.
Nadler was pressured then taken down by Ulale then a pitch to Bruno would end the third quarter.
The fourth quarter would start with a pass to Bruno to get the ball out to the Bandits 19, then a handoff to Bruno who would be stopped by Griggs for a three yard loss. An incomplete pass due to Donnie Duncan getting a hand of it and a flag on Shepherd, who took the defense of Duncan personally, would take 15 yards from the Bandits. A pass to Miller would get the ball down to the Gladiator three then a handoff to Miller would get the ball into the end zone. A flag on the Gladiators would be declined and the PAT was good. 11:42 left in the game, Duke City 31 Sioux City 27.
The kickoff ball was brought out by Davis, but a penalty on the Gladiators started them on their own 12.
Holbrook handed off the ball to move it up to their own 23 then two incomplete passes brought up third and 10. A pass to Elmore would would push them out to the Bandit seven then a pitch to Davis would add three yards. Holbrook would run up to the two. The next play, Holbrook handed off to Rhodes, but Rhodes fumbled in the end zone, the ball was picked up by Brown and ran out to the Bandits 10.
Nadler begins with a handoff to Miller then uses Shepherd with a handoff and a pass to get the third and six. An incomplete pass and a failed field goal attempt would end the Bandits possession with six minutes left in the game.
Beginning on their own five, Holbrook would pass to Elmore twice to move the ball up to their own 24. A handoff to Davis would cross midfield to the 21 then a pass to Davis would be stopped on the Bandit 17. A keeper would restart the downs with the ball on the Bandit 15. A pass to Elmore would be stopped by Wright then the next play would be whistled stopped but Brown and Wesley Johnson would tackle Holbrook anyways giving the Gladiators the ball on the Bandits eight. A keeper up the middle would gain two. Time out-one minute warning.
Holbrook pitched to Davis but a holding call would back them up to the Bandits 16. A keeper would move the ball forward, time out.
Third and goal with the ball on the Bandits 13, Holbrook again kept the ball for the first down then with 23 seconds left in the game, just let the clock run out and Duke City is the Champions for the fourth CIF season with a score of 31 Sioux City 27.
By RJ Ciancio
The 0-9 Lehigh Valley Steelhawks hosted Jacksonville to try to play spoiler to the 7-4 Sharks. There were major implications for both teams. The Sharks were fighting to gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs while the Steelhawks were trying to find their first win of the season.
Spencer Hotaling’s opening kick sailed through the uprights for a deuce giving the Steelhawks an early 2-0 lead. The Sharks came out of gate with a beautiful mix of run and pass plays. However the drive sputtered out inside the Steelhawks ten. The Sharks brought out Brandon Behr who booted a field goal making the score 3-2 Jacksonville.
The Steelhawks came onto the field with Caleb Walton under center due to a Mark Foltz injury. Walton commanded the offense down the field with an impressive aerial assault. The drive took a turn for the worse when another quarterback-center exchange was botched, but luckily for Lehigh Valley, Walton was able to fall on the pigskin. On fourth down Hotaling’s field goal attempt peeled to the left giving the Sharks the ball on their own five.
Adrian McPherson made short work of the field as he found former Steelhawk Thomas Gibson for as 24-yard pass. Two plays later McPherson found Derrick Ross for his first career receiving touchdown. The extra point was good making the score 10-2 Sharks.
Lehigh Valley fired right back as Caleb Walton found FJ Williams for a 21-yard touchdown reception. Hotaling’s kick went through the uprights making the score 17-9 Jacksonville.
The Sharks began working their way down down the field with McPherson finding Thomas Gilson and Cody Saul before finding Trevor Kennedy for a nine yard touchdown reception. Brandon Behr’s extra point was good making the score 24-9 Sharks.
Yusef Reddick returned the Jacksonville kickoff to their own 19-yard-line. Walton found Reddick for an important third down conversion. However, the drive stalled out forcing a field goal attempt. However, Spencer Hotaling’s 21-yard field goal attempt was no good.
Jacksonville started the drive on their own five. On first down Adrian McPherson found Cody Saul on a slant that weant for 44 yards bringing the ball down to the Steelhawks four. On first and second down McPherson was stopped on two consecutive quarterback sneaks. On third and goal all-time AFL leading rusher Derrick Ross was stopped from scoring to end the half with the score reading 24-9 Sharks.
To start the second half Walton found Charles McClain for a first down. An undisciplined Sharks team was called for offsides, illegal defense and and a personal foul. The Steelhawks took advantage and after Caleb Walton snuck the ball in for a touchdown a minor skirmish ensued. Each team committed a personal foul so the fouls offset. Hotaling’s kick was good making it 24-16 Sharks. On the kickoff Hotaling dropped his second deuce of the night making it 24-18 Jacksonville.
The Sharks lack of discipline once again peaked its ugly head after receiver/cornerback Cody Saul pushed a player in the helmet after being held. This lead to Saul being ejected from the game forcing the Sharks to change their personnel. After getting the fresh set of down from the holding call the Jacksonville drive died out and on fourth down when the Sharks botched snap giving the ball to the Steelhawks who fell on the fumble.
The tides turned back in favor of the Sharks when two plays into the drive Caleb Walton threw an interception to Marvin Ross. Jacksonville marched its way down the field with the drive being capped by a running touchdown for Trevor Kennedy from two yards out. With the successful extra point making the score 31-18 Sharks.
Caleb Walton and the Steelhawks went right back to the air to begin their drive with Anthony Kelly and Charles McClain being Walton’s top two targets on the drive which was capped off with a McClain touchdown making the score 31-25 Sharks.
Jacksonville was marching down the field when a crucial fourth down came up. On the play McPherson’s pass was intercepted by Saveon Brown on his own one. He proceeded to return the ball down to the Sharks 15 when he fumbled. Luckily for the Steelhawks an teammate picked it up and ran it into the endzone. The extra point from Spencer Hotaling was no good but Lehigh Valley had tied the game up at 31.
The Sharks next drive was short but vital. After the offense stalled the Sharks decide to bring out Brandon Behr for 30-yard field goal. The Sharks lead 34-31.
Lehigh Valley and Jacksonville traded drives that ended in missed field goals and brought the game down to 46 seconds. The Sharks then broke down as they let Walton found McClain for an eight yard gain. On the next play the Steelhawks moved the chains. On first down the Steelhawks were being assessed a foul when Keith Bowers threw his helmet and giving up a first down and getting himself ejected in the process. The Sharks then tightened up after Lehigh Valley brought the ball to the Jacksonville five. On third down The Sharks committed a holding penalty giving the Steelhawks first and goal on the Jacksonville two. The Sharks defense once again stepped up forcing Spencer Hotaling to attempt a 20-yard kick to tie the game with five seconds left. The high snap on the kick messed up Hotaling and his kick was blocked at the line as time expired.
Jacksonville needs to work on discipline if they hope to win their second NAL Championship as penalties plagued them throughout the game.
Although the Steelhawks lost in a heartbreaker the game showed much upside for the team. Their receiving core and defense looked good throughout the contest and Caleb Walton played well in place of an injured Mark Fultz. Both teams have lots to look forward to as the Sharks look for another championship and the Steelhawks, their first win of the season.