Stingy Storm thrashes Calvary

04/08/02 Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Ryan Aulenbacher's tosses grew increasingly pinpoint, David Ruter's runs gobbled up piles of yards and Adam Syphers introduced a touchdown celebration unique to indoor football - riding the boards like they were a bucking Brahma bull.

Yet for all that pageantry, the Sioux Falls Storm's offense was only a sideshow. This NIFL game belonged to the Storm defense, which reached an all-new level of gnarliness on Sunday afternoon. Sioux Falls hog-tied the Wyoming Cavalry, allowing only a first-quarter field goal and 104 total yards in a 46-3 lambasting at the Arena before an estimated crowd of 2,600.

Just how vicious did it get? During a series midway through the fourth quarter, the Storm sacked Wyoming quarterback Matt Strand on three straight plays, the last by 290-pound John Green, who hopped on Strand's back and folded him like a card table. The Cavalry then tried a field goal, but Sioux Falls lineman Malcolm Coleman swatted it away.

During the first half, Wyoming clung to its run-first attack, but had little success. (The Cavalry finished with 2.7 yards per carry on the day.) This didn't surprise Storm linebacker Don Hilsenroth.
"No one is going to run on us," said Hilsenroth, who finished with six tackles and three assists. "I feel like we have the best run-stopping defense in the league. ... When we watch film and break it down, and we see that they're a running team, our whole defense gets geeked up."

When Wyoming finally did go to the air, Sioux Falls had more booby traps in store. On three consecutive second-half possessions, Storm defensive backs Bobby Perkins, Todd Tryon and Philip Wilson picked off Strand passes. That upped Sioux Falls' interception total to 15 this season.

All this left Storm coach Mike Aldrich wondering where to rank this performance.

"It's tough to say," said Aldrich, who has been with the Sioux Falls franchise during all three years of its existence. "We've played some good games, but nothing where we've ever held a team to three points. ... I can't think of when our defense played stingier."

And that overshadowed what was a solid, occasionally spectacular, performance by the Sioux Falls offense. The Storm didn't get its first points until the 5:05 mark of the second period, but quarterback Aulenbacher ended up throwing three touchdowns before halftime. He connected with Corey Walker on a 21-yard scoring play with 3.9 seconds left in the half, making it 20-3 at the break.

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