Bandits improve mark to 3-0 with 40-21 win over Sioux Falls
Sioux City Bandits' Lamont Truitt is tackled by Wyatt Haines of the Sioux Falls Storm during Sunday's National Indoor Football League game at the Sioux City Auditorium. (Staff photo by Jim Lee)
The Sioux City Bandits played their "ace'' cards Sunday and came up flush in trumping the Sioux Falls Storm.
Adam Hicks kicked his hometown National Indoor Football League team with four field goals. Lamont Truitt scored on a 39-yard pass interception return and a rambunctious defense threw the Sioux Falls running game into reverse with a minus 20 yards rushing.
The sum total was a convincing 40-21 NIFL triumph before a sellout crowd of 2,750 at Sioux City Auditorium that kept Sioux City's record perfect at 3-0. Sioux Falls, on the other hand, lost for the first time after four straight victories, all in the Pacific West Division of the NIFL.
Coach Carl Reinhardt's Bandits are now 2-0 in the Pacific North.
"Carl gave us a pretty inspiring pre-game speech during a team meeting Saturday night,'' said Bandits quarterback Jarrod DeGeorgia, who passed for 133 yards, including a 30-yard scoring strike to Erv Whitehead in the third quarter, opening a 34-6 lead.
"A lot of our guys like to play cards,'' continued DeGeorgia and coach talked about remaining calm and patient and dealing with what kind of game situation you might be handed. Then, today, all of the guys had an ace card inside their uniform somwhere.
"It was pretty neat, pretty inspirational, actually. I had my ace inside one of my shoes.''
DeGeorgia was pretty much a one-armed Bandit in the contest, although sore-armed might be a better term.
A shoulder injury forced the former Wayne State collegiate star to adjust his delivery to a sidearm style.
"I didn't have all that great a game, but the important thing was that everyone else played great and we got the 'W''','' said DeGeorgia, who connected on 10 of 25 attempts, but was intercepted twice.
Sioux Falls rushed the ball just nine times and one of those turned into disaster.
After Truitt's interception return for a touchdown that helped open a 21-6 Sioux City lead with 4:39 left in the first half, the Storm threatened to retaliate quickly, using a penalty and kickoff that went out of the end zone to set up Sioux Falls at the Sioux City 14.
A nine-yard pass to Adam Syphers went to the 5, but on the next play, the center snap sailed over quarterback Ryan Aulenbacher's head. He retrieved the ball and apparently had shoved it ahead of him to a teammate for a pass attempt.
The officials ruled a fumble, however, and the Bandits recovered at the Sioux Falls 18. Two plays later, Hicks booted a 24-yard field goal for a 24-6 lead with 1:06 remaining in the half.
The opportunistic Bandits struck again quickly.
Trice Crump intercepted an Aulenbacher pass on the second play of Sioux Falls' ensuing possession. Starting from its own 16, DeGeorgia misfired twice, then hooked with Whitehead on a 19-yard pass to the 15 with 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Hicks, who, when playing last season for the Rapid City Red Dogs, kicked nine field goals in a win over Sioux City, booted a 30-yard field goal as time expired, opening a 27-6 halftime bulge.
"My leg was actually hurting a little and I was tired,'' admitted Hicks, a graduate of Sioux Falls Lincoln High School and the University of South Dakota. "It seems like I always kick better, though, when I've got some physical problems.''
Sioux City's Jesse Wavrunek opened the scoring on a 1-yard plunge with 3:56 left in the third quarter, but Jim Bean of Sioux Falls answered with a 3-yard run with 1:37 left in the opening quarter.
Nate Krull's kick, though, misfired, and the Storm never gathered much force the rest of the way.
Jerry Davis scored on a 2-yard run for the Bandits just before Truitt's pass interception return.
Lynn Tryon caught a 6-yard TD pass from Aulenbacher in the third quarter to help the visitors to within 34-13 with 3:24 left in the third period.
"We got another outstanding effort from the defense and we did what we had to do on offense,'' said Reinhardt, the Sioux City coach. "Sioux Falls is a good, solid football team and we needed to execute our game plan and stay away from mistakes.
"The crowd gave us a great lift again and, sure, being 3-0 right now is extremely satisfying and we're having fun playing the game.''
Sioux City plays Saturday against the Oklahoma Crude in Enid, Okla.