Diesel one step away from hosting playoff game

07/02/02 Kearney Cyberhub

SIOUX CITY - Turnovers were a key as the Tri-City Diesel avenged their fourth loss of the season Saturday night.

The Diesel scored two touch-downs after two Sioux City Bandits turnovers in the fourth quarter as they rallied for a 44-37 win that knocked the Bandits out of the National Indoor Football League playoff picture in front of 2,754 at Sioux City Auditorium.

The turnover that put a dagger in the Bandits' season came as 5-11, 185-pound cornerback Charles Verdone intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards to the Bandits' 15 yard line. Five plays later, Tri-City quarterback Justin Coleman scored on a two-yard run that snapped a 37-37 tie.

"I stepped in front of it and did what I get paid for," Verdone said afterwards. "It was a great throw by (Jarrod) DeGeorgia. He's a great quarterback. I was just in the right place at the right time."

Sioux City (8-5) dug itself in a hole, allowing Tri-City (7-6) to score touchdowns after each of its first three possessions.

However, the Bandits, after spotting the Diesel the 21-7 lead, outscored their Pacific Conference Northern Division opponent 14-6 in the second quarter, thanks to one-yard runs from DeGeorgia and Jesse Wavrunek, to pull within 27-21 at halftime.

The Bandits continued to rally in the third quarter, as Adam Hicks booted a pair of 24-yard field goals. Then, for the first time in the game, Sioux City took a 34-27 lead as Johnnie Ostermeyer slid in the end zone to catch DeGeorgia's second touchdown pass of the game and overall, his 27th of the season, a 32-yarder.

It appeared that Ostermeyer had lost the football in the end zone after making the catch as he was bumped by free safety David Rausch.

"I got hit in the back of the leg with a helmet," said Ostermeyer, who scored his seventh touchdown of the season. "I had ahold of the ball and I was in the end zone praying that the referee would give the touchdown signal. Dave Perrigo was in the end zone and said it was a touchdown."

Tri-City pulled to within 34-30 as Darin Tankersley booted a 35-yard field goal, then on the Bandits' first play from scrimmage, Rausch intercepted a pass. Ables caught a 33-yard pass at the one yard line and Coleman followed with a one-yard run that gave the Diesel a 37-34 lead with 11:52 left in the game.

Hicks' third field goal of the game and 27th of the season tied the game about two minutes later, then Trice Crump picked off a pass intended for Ables at the three yard line. DeGeorgia, who completed 14-of-20 passes for 158 yards, completed four passes and Jerry Davis (9 rushes, 22 yards) ran three times on the time-consuming drive, which featured a 2-yard reverse run by Ostermeyer to the 15.

The 10th play of the drive pro-duced Sioux City's second turnover of the quarter as the pass, intended for Pinklon Thomas (7 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD) was picked off by Verdone with 1:49 left. Then, during the series that followed Coleman's touchdown, DeGeorgia had the ball knocked out of his hands on the run by Brad Kjar.
Eric Ryan recovered the fumble at the Bandits' 13 yard line with 32 seconds left and Coleman took a knee to end the game.


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