Beef win ugly, Childs saves day

04/23/03 NIFL Fan Article by Andrew Hoyle

     It almost happened again.  Maybe there’s something in the water at Omaha’s Civic Auditorium this year.  Maybe somebody put a curse on the Slaughterhouse this year.  Maybe there’s some guy up in the cheap seats with an Omaha Beef voodoo doll, sticking the hell out of it with a knitting needle.  Or maybe he’s roasting it over a portable grill.  Whatever’s going on, it’s been a little scary at the home of the Beef this year.  Take last Friday night for example; the scoreboard read Beef 23, Show Me 26 at halftime.  Scary.

     Then he stepped up his game.  He took it all upon himself, saying it wasn’t going to happen again, not at home, not this year. He and his teammates had made that promise to themselves and the fans.  And with 21 seconds left in the game, he crossed the goal line for the fifth time in the game, breaking a 46-46 tie.  He also ended the night with 144 yards rushing.  Who is he, Superman?  Sorry, that one belongs to WR/KR/DB Steve Lovell, the unbelievable little guy with the blue t-shirt with the big “S” on it.  Call him “Don’t Quit.”  Call him “Never Give Up.”  Call him Mr. Clinton Childs.

     Time and again, the Show Me Believers, with a little help from the Beef, put themselves in a position to take over the game.  Beef QB Troy Travis was sacked for a safety in the end zone during the first quarter, and Show Me put three more touchdowns on the board after that.  But Mr. Childs ended the half with a 28-yard run for a touchdown, and the Beef were crawling back.  Beef coach Collins Sanders says it was a “spirited” locker room at halftime; there’s no doubt in my mind that Mr. Childs had a word or two of encouragement in there.  And his teammates responded, shutting down the Believers in the third quarter.  Childs didn’t let up either, tacking on another touchdown of his own in the third, this time on a 45-yard sprint to the end zone.  But just when the Beef were looking to put it away for good, the guy in the cheap seats got another chance to laugh.  With the Beef leading 43-33, and on the Believer one yard line with a third and goal, QB Travis dropped back to attempt a pass on a broken run play.  Out of nowhere, the ball slipped out of his hand, and was picked up by Show Me DB Donald Harris, who took it the distance the other way for a Believer touchdown.  It was a 14-point momentum swing, and it had the Believers believing in themselves again.

     After an Omaha field goal and another Believers touchdown, this one with 1:22 remaining on the clock, the score was tied, and Mr. Childs got one more chance to show a crowd of 4,126 frenzied Beef fans what it takes to keep a promise.  And he did….. 

     What’s going to be hardest for the Beef this week, the 18-hour bus ride to Billings, Montana, or the game against the Outlaws?  That’s the question on everybody’s mind, but coach Sanders says don’t let the 1-4 record fool you.  The Outlaws are still a dangerous team, averaging 49 points and 232 yards a game passing, and a total offense of 287.2 yards a game.  The only problem is they are allowing their opponents to average 354.5 yards a game total offense, including 259.8 yards a game through the air; this puts them at the bottom of the league total defense and scoring defense.  What does this mean for the Beef, who are averaging 51 points a game, 147 yards a game (4.1 average per carry) on the ground, and 168 yards a game through the air?  A good old fashioned shootout, probably.  RB Childs (48 attempts, 255 net yards, 5.3 average, 7 td, 85.0 yards/game) looks to go over the century mark for the second straight game, while hot and cold running QB Travis (103.90 rating, 62 attempts, 37 completions, 1 interception, 59.7%, 5 td, 143.3 yards/game) is due for another good game.  Look for WR Steve Lovell (12 receptions, 205 yards, 17.1 average, 2 td, 68.3 yards/game), to be utilized more in a crossing route in the middle. The offense will hold its own in this one, as long as the unforced turnovers and penalties (89.7 yards/game) are kept to a minimum.  Look for the biggest impact to be on the defensive side of the ball this week.  Coach Sanders says his defensive secondary is “getting better and better every week,” and is going about 50/50 with the zone/man coverages right now.  Look for a lot of disguising of the secondary this week, as Outlaws QB Higgs likes to go deep with his great receivers, but can be forced into a lot of turnovers (13 interceptions) when he’s out of sync.  Harris and Johnson should have a dominating effect on the Outlaw offensive line and quarterback this week, and look for the Beef to have “a trick or two up their sleeves to counter the 1- and 2-step drops” quarterbacks have been using to avoid these two defensive linemen.  Omaha wants to avenge a 66-53 loss last season at Billings (hey, NIFL schedulers, when are they coming to Omaha?), and to surpass their road win total of last year (two wins on the road).  Look for the Beef to once again get it done on the road in convincing style.

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