Red Dogs can't weather Storm

03/31/02 Rapid City Journal
RAPID CITY - The Sioux Falls Storm built an 18-point halftime lead and held off an injury-plagued Rapid City Red Dogs squad to register an important early-season, 52-40 win in National Indoor Football League action Saturday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The Red Dogs, who fell to 1-2 overall and in Pacific West Conference play, lost a handful of players to injury during the course of the game, but still battled the Storm to the bitter end.

"Throw out the records when these two teams play," said Sioux Falls head coach Mike Aldrich, whose team improved to 3-0 overall and in conference play. "It's a classic East and West River rivalry. I wouldn't say these teams hate each other, but they definitely like to beat on each other."

The physical nature of the game took its toll on the Red Dogs.

Rapid City lost Ryan Speed, the team's leading receiver, to a knee injury late in the first quarter. Speed's loss began a player shuffle that sent quarterback Casey Veenhof to the receiver slot. Back-up quarterback John Carnevali went down with a sprained ankle midway through the third quarter after leading the Red Dogs to two scores and back within 10 points of Sioux Falls.

With Veenhof back at quarterback, first-year coach Dan Maciejczak found himself shuffling running backs into receiver spots and with the loss of Luke Klepper, defensive linemen to offensive tackle.

"It was a mess," said Maciejczak, "but we played a good game, all things considered.

"It could've been ugly with all the things that happened, but our guys stepped up."

Rapid City's fortunes swung in the third quarter when Carnevali was in the game.

The Red Dogs gave up a touchdown late in the first half and trailed 38-19 at the intermission.

Carnevali, who was signed just over a week ago as a back-up quarterback, threw a strike to Veenhof along the left sideboard for a 33-yard TD on the first play of the second half. After having another touchdown to Veenhof negated by a holding call, Carnevali hit Antonio Conley with a 34-yard scoring strike.

Suddenly Rapid City was back within 43-33 and had momentum in hand.

But as quickly as things appeared to be going the Red Dogs' way, they turned against the home team just as fast.

Bobby Perkins returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards for a Storm TD and a 49-33 lead. Then Carnevali and Krull went down with ankle sprains on the same play. The Red Dogs were never able to regain momentum again.

"Once we saw (Carnevali) go in there, we thought we would go after him," said Aldrich. "He bought himself just enough time to get the ball off. Thank God one of them was called back on a penalty or else there would've been seven more points on the board."

The running and receiving of David Ruter and throwing of Ryan Aulenbacher caused the Red Dogs fits throughout the game.

Ruter ended up with 67 rushing yards, 28 receiving yards and two scores. Aulenbacher threw for only 139 yards but had three TDs passing and one rushing.

"I felt we did a good job of adjusting to them in the second quarter," said Aldrich. "Then they came out in the second half and took advantage of our mental lapses."

Rapid City's Tom Skoog rushed for 36 yards and a score and had five catches for 74 yards and another score.

The Red Dogs host the Bismarck Roughriders next Sunday, April 7.

Sioux Falls 24 13 12 3-52

Rapid City 19 0 14 7-40

First quarter

SF-Ryan Aulenbacher 1 run (Nate Krull kick), 13:34

RC-Tom Skoog 15 pass from Casey Veenhof (Beau Vinatieri kick), 12:14

SF-David Ruter 1 run (Krull kick), 7:44

SF-Damien Harmon 2 pass from Aulenbacher (Krull kick), 6:25

RC-Skoog 3 run (kick failed), 5:26

SF-Krull 37 field goal, 2:40

RC-Casey Veenhoff 2 run (pass failed), 00:08

Second quarter

SF-Adam Syphers 3 pass from Aulenbacher (Krull kick), 12:09

SF-Harmon 6 run (kick failed), 00:40

Third Quarter

RC-Veenhoff 33 pass from John Carnevali (Vinatieri kick), 14:36

SF-Ruter 6 pass from Aulenbacher (kick failed), 10:44

RC-Antonio Conley 34 pass from Carnevali (Vinatieri kick), 4:11

SF-Bobby Perkins 50 kickoff return (kick failed), 3:43

Fourth Quarter

RC-Luke Klepper 4 pass from Veenhoff (Vinatieri kick), 11:36

SF-Krull 22 field goal, 6:24


First downs 11 8

Rushes-yards 30-82 16-59

Passing yards 139 195

Comp-att 13-20-1 13-28-0

Punts 0-0 0-0

Return yards 132 110

Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-2

Penalties-yards 9-54 8-45


RUSHING-SF, David Ruter 17-67, Ryan Aulenbacher 8-7, Damien Harmon 3-3, Jesse Haines 1-2; RC, Tom Skoog 8-32, Casey Veenhof 5-15, John Carnevali 2-13, Charles Tharp 1-(-1).

PASSING-SF, Aulenbacher 13-20-1 139; RC, Veenhoff 9-21-0 109, Carnevali 4-7-0 86.

RECEIVING-SF, Haines 4-69, Ruter 3-29, Adam Syphers 3-21, Cory Walker 2-18, Damien Harmon 1-2; RC, Tom Skoog 5-74, Brian Mills 4-38, Antonio Conley 2-46, Veenhoff 1-33, Luke Klepper 1-4.


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