Warriors find recipe for play off success

07/15/03 NIFL Fan Article by Philip J. Rogich, Syracuse, UT

Start with one MVP, add a healthy helping of Bacon, and toss in a defensive back to your offense. These proved to be the key ingredients to a Warriors win this last Saturday.

The E - Center was primed for it’s first ever NIFL play-off game. The Sioux Falls Storm traveled to Utah to met the Warriors for the third time this year. Former Miss America, Charline Wells sang the national anthem. Other celebrities in attendance were former NBA star Ron Boon and a few current NFL players. Super fans, the Warrior council, had the privilege of unveiling the 2003 Pacific West Championship banner.

Sioux Falls got the ball first but the Warriors defense held them to a quick four and out. Last years MVP Danny Ragsdale wasted no time in showing people why he should repeat. On the Warriors first offensive play he threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to Cody Weight. Weight had been converted from defensive back to receiver to help out the injury depleted receiver corps. The Storm answered back quickly with a touchdown pass to tie the game. On Utah’s next offensive possession they drove 42 yards for the score. The touchdown came on a Omar Bacon 3 yard run. Sioux Falls then tied the game up again on a Justin Blivins 3 yard touchdown run. Utah then ended the quarter with a 2 yard Omar Bacon touchdown run. First quarter ends Utah up 20 to 13.

The Storm start the quarter with a bang to tie the game for the third time. The score came on a 27 yard Aulenbacher to Veenhof pass. Utah then marched down the field for 28 yards. Danny Ragsdale keeps the ball himself and scores on a quarterback sneak. The Warriors defense then comes up with the only turnover of the night. Jason Potter recovers a Veenhof fumble. Two plays latter the Warriors capitalize on the turnover, as Ragsdale hits Jason Quinn with a 19 yard touchdown pass. Sioux Falls answers back with a touchdown pass. Ragsdale then finds Jason Quinn once more for a 3 yard touchdown pass. Both teams score once more before the end of the half. Utah’s score comes on a 1 yard Omar Bacon run. Half time score Warriors 47 - Storm 34.

The Warriors start the second half with the ball. With a score they could drive a nail in the coffin of the Storm, however it was the Storm defenses’s turn to come up big by making Utah go four and out. The Storm drove to the Utah ten yard-line but the Warriors defense stiffened. Sioux Falls missed the field goal and Utah got the ball back. Danny Ragsdale used the combo of Emmitt White and Omar Bacon to get down the field. The drive ended on a 1 yard Omar Bacon touchdown run.

The Storm then scored once more to end the quarter. The Warriors are up 54 to 41.

The fourth quarter starts with the Warriors striking quickly. Ragsdale hits Emmitt White on a 30 yard touchdown pass. Both teams then play some defense as both come up with stops. This is followed by the teams trading touchdowns. The Warriors score on an Omar Bacon 3 yard run. The Storm do get one more score but in come way to late. Utah wins 68 to 55.

At the end of the game the fans were chanting MVP for quarterback Danny Ragsdale. That is the kind of game and season he has had. On the night he was 23 of 28 for 305 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran one in and set Omar Bacon up for five touchdowns. Omar Bacon was unstoppable in the red-zone much like he was in the regular season. He lead all players with five touchdowns and is tied with the most play-off touchdowns.

Newly converted receiver Cody Weight lead all receivers in yards with 108 yards in only 4 catches. He also had one touchdown. Jason Quinn was the #2 receiver in the game with 89 yards and two touchdowns. Emmitt White lead all players in total yards with 212 yards. He also had a touchdown. Kicker Pete Garces was a little off on the night. He was 0 for 2 on field goals and 7 of 9 on PATs.

Jason Potter lead all defenders with 8.5 tackles and 1 fumble recovery. Bart Amundson and Trevor Bell had 4.5 tackles each, while Jeff Main had 4.

After the game I spoke with Coach Leslie. I asked him how it felt beating the Storm in the play-offs. He replied, "I have more respect for Sioux Falls then any other team." "From the general manager down to the coaching staff they are the most classy organization we’ve seen all year." "I am glad it was them we had to play because they are a class act." "Their players do not mouth off or throw fits."

I would have to echo the thoughts of coach Leslie. Before the game I spoke with the Silver Fox, the Storm’s radio play-by-play man. I also had the chance to met and speak with several Storm players and fans. They all congratulated the Warriors on the victory and wished them well in the rest of the play-offs.

Next week the Warriors travel to Omaha to take on the Beef for the Pacific Conference Championship. Both teams won there respective divisions and have identical records. Both teams put a lot of points on the board in the first round of the play-offs. The Championship game will come down to turnovers and which defenses makes the key stops.

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