At the very least, the Wichita Wild could have sent the Jake Sharp and Kansas Jayhawk fans home happy.
Sharp, a star running back for KU and the Wild's highest-profile acquisition of the offseason, broke free down the right side in the third quarter for what should have been an easy touchdown reception.
Key words: Should have been.
Quarterback Shane Mascarenas misfired badly, and the fans reacted in disappointment.
It was like that the whole night.
Making his first start in the Indoor Football League, Mascarenas threw four interceptions, and the Wild remained winless with a 55-41 loss to the Green Bay Blizzard in front of 4,116 on Saturday in Hartman Arena.
The Wild, which reached the conference title game last season and was expected to be a championship contender this year, is 0-2 heading into an off week. There is much work to do, with the biggest question surrounding the quarterback spot.
Mascarenas, the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference player of the year last season, completed 18 of 30 passes for 205 yards and five touchdowns — all to Clinton Solomon. Filling in for injured starter Alex Rouse, Mascarenas looked solid early, and his 21-yard TD pass to Solomon gave the Wild a 28-17 lead in the second quarter.
Then he lost all command, throwing interceptions on three consecutive possessions and allowing Green Bay (1-1) to sneak back into the game.
"I blame myself," Mascarenas said. "You can't expect to win a football game when you throw four interceptions."
Each of the interceptions came because he underthrew receivers, including one when running back Darius Fudge sprinted into the open down the left sideline. Fudge and coach Ken Matous both gestured to Mascarenas on the bench, apparently imploring him to put more air under the ball.
"I have the arm, no doubt about that," Mascarenas said. "It doesn't help when they give me new balls that are so hard it's tough to grip them. But it's on me. I just need to grow up a little bit during this bye week and learn to keep the momentum I had going in the first quarter.
"A lot of guys played well. The defense played their hearts out. I just kept putting us in bad positions."
The Wild led 28-27 at halftime, but Green Bay scored a touchdown on the first possession of the second half. Later, the Wild fumbled away the snap — the second fumble on a snap of the possession — and the Blizzard took advantage with another score, upping the lead to 41-28.
The Wild never got closer than six the rest of the game.
The Wild's defense recorded three sacks (James McCartney, Marques Walton and Teon Wilson) and was mostly solid, but the unit seemed to wear down late — no surprise given how much time it spent on the field. Green Bay ran 66 plays to the Wild's 41 and dominated time of possession (36:16 to 17:39.)
"We gave up some third and longs, which really disappointed me," Matous said.
Notes — Green Bay had no answer for Solomon, who caught nine passes for 120 yards. "He's a big-play receiver," Mascarenas said.... Sharp started the home opener. He caught four passes for 12 yards and rushed once for one yard.... Green Bay shut down Fudge, who rushed seven times for three yards.... Rouse is out for at least a month with a knee injury.
Green Bay14 13 14 14 — 55 Wichita21 7 7 6 — 41
W—Solomon 11 pass from Mascarenas (Eason kick)
GB—Sanders 30 pass from Copeland (Shene kick)
W—Fudge 5 run (Eason kick)
GB—Shabi 2 pass from Solomon (Shene kick)
W—Solomon 7 pass from Mascarenas (Eason kick)
GB—Shene 35 FG
W—Solomon 29 pass from Mascarenas (Eason) beat his man down rite sideline
GB—Shene 39 FG
GB—Verboncouer 7 run (Shene kick)
GB—Shabi 13 pass from Copeland (Shene kick)
GB—Shabi 6 pass from Copeland (Shene kick)
W—Solomon 18 pass from Mascarenas (Eason kick)
GB—Shene 49 FG
GB—Shene 45 FG
W—Solomon 19 pass from Mascarenas (pass failed)
GB—Verboncouer 5 run (Sanders pass from Copeland)
Rushing—Green Bay, Verboncouer 14-28, Copeland 2-(-2); Wichita, Mascarenas 3-4, Fudge 7-3, Sharp 1-1.
Passing—Green Bay, Copeland 29-47-237; Wichita, Mascarenas 18-30-205.
Receiving—Green Bay, Verboncouer Sanders 7-94, 9-67, Herford 6-42, Shabaj 7-34; Wichita, Solomon 9-120, Givens 4-61, Sharp 4-12, Fudge 1-12.