The Wichita Wild held on for a 59-54 victory over the Sioux City Bandits at Hartman Arena Saturday to clinch the no.1 seed in the CPIFL playoffs. The seeding gives the hometown advantage for the first two games of playoff action.
“It’s a goal that we didn’t accomplish last year that we did this year,” Coach Paco Martinez said. “This year I think was a little bit tougher. We were the champions and we had a target on our back.”
Coming into the game the Wild were the league leaders on defense while the Bandits held the lead on offense. That was something that the Wild prepared for.
“For our defense we just needed to do what we do… They’re the top defense for a reason,” Martinez said.
The Wild held Sioux City to 12 points and 50 yards in the first half.
An interception by Kendrick Harper on a long bomb by Scott Jensen disrupted Sioux City early, and long kicks from Ernesto Lacayo kept the Bandits at bay when the Wild couldn’t get enough done on the ground. Lacayo kicked two 48-yard field goals in the first half.
Lacayo said the kicks were a little bit of redemption after the loss to Sioux City earlier this year. He missed what could have been a game-deciding 35 yard field goal leading to that 48-45 loss.
Lacayo said he was trying to make sure that he did his job well to support his team.
“The kick comes off my foot, but it really involves the other seven guys on the team,” he said.
Lacayo said he is glad to contribute to the team in a role that is different from most of the other players.
“Just being able to help my team out and play cleanup wherever I can, I’m just proud to be here,” he said.
After being down 26-49 the Bandits mounted an unsuccessful comeback in the fourth quarter, putting up 28 points in the final 15 minutes.
Martinez said that he stopped paying attention as much to what was going on in the fourth quarter things went so bad.
“I know that the effort wasn’t like we needed it to be and we let them get back into the game, and congratulations to them, they never gave up,” he said.
A game-changing interception by Chris Hemphill with 4:03 left in the game put the brakes on the Bandits comeback.
“My coaches always tell me that big time players make big time plays in big time games. And I just felt like at the moment my team needed a big play,” he said.
Martinez said he is happy to get to play at home in the playoffs.
“To be the overall No.1 seed and have home field advantage is an accomplishment that I don’t think we fully understand yet. We just expected it because that’s the type of team that we are,” he said.
Sioux City 6 6 14 28 – 54
Wichita 17 15 17 10 – 59
W – Hemphill 2 pass Hinds (Lacayo kick)
W – R. Daniels 40 pass Hinds (Lacayo kick)
SC – Bentley 4 run (kick failed)
W – Lacayo 48 FG
W – Hinds 2 run (Lacayo kick)
SC – Bentley 4 run (conversion failed)
W – Lacayo 48 FG
W – Lacayo 31 FG
W – Kelly 39 pass Hinds (Lacayo kick)
SC – Mothershead 31 pass Jensen (conversion failed)
W – Kelley 9 pass Hinds (Lacayo kick)
SC – Mothershead 39 pass Jensen (Brown run)
W – Lacayo 18 FG
SC – Bruno 23 pass Jensen (conversion failed)
SC – Pree 2 recovery (conversion failed)
SC – Franklin 47 run missed FG (Bentley run)
W – Hinds 5 run (Lacayo kick)
W – Lacayo 36 FG
SC – Brown 45 pass Jensen (Brown run)
Rushing – Wichita, Hubbard 17-48; Hinds 9-15. Sioux City, Bentley 10-57; Jensen 3-24; Bruno 2-(-13).
Passing – Wichita, Hinds 20-31-0-184; Team 0-0-0-(-15). Sioux City, Jensen 6-17-2-158.
Receiving – Wichita, Kelley 12-104; Daniels 3-57; Hubbard 2-9; Baker 1-7; Allen 1-5; Hemphill 1-2. Sioux City, Mothershead 2-70; Brown 1-45; Bruno 1-23; Pretilla 1-17; Bentley 1-3.