The Wichita Wild came out in the home opener Friday night and initially stood toe-to-toe with defending IF L champion Sioux Falls in the first quarter, finishing the period with a slim 21-19 lead.
But Sioux Falls sent the Wild crashing back reality in the second period, outscoring Wichita 27-7, and the Storm didn’t let up from there, finishing with an 81-54 victory at Hartman Arena.
In spite of the loss, Wild coach Morris Lolar was upbeat about the game. The Wild managed to provide a number of highlights, particularly two fumble returns for touchdowns by Scooter Rogers. Rogers recovered his second fumble at Wichita’s 1-yard line and took it back 49 yards for the score.
Another bright spot for the Wild was the debut of Tywon Hubbard. Hubbard scored on his first reception, a 13-yard pass from quarterback Phil Staback that gave the Wild a 6-0 lead. He ended up with 18 rushing yards and 48 receiving yards, but managed to make all of them appear spectacular.
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“I know we’ve got a running back,” Wild coach Morris Lolar said of Hubbard, who played collegiately at Central Missouri. “The offensive line did a great job of blocking, and that kid is explosive. He’s a player.”
Otherwise, Sioux Falls gave convincing proof why it is one of the IFL’s top teams.
“This was a kind of game that our kids can look at and say, ‘We can compete at this level,’” Lolar said. “There was some time, like when we jumped on them in the first quarter and again in the third quarter.”
Storm quarterback Chris Dixon II passed for 330 yards and six touchdowns against a beleaguered Wild defense. His favorite targets were Carl Sims and Lorenzo Brown. Each caught seven passes and scored twice. Sims finished with 106 yards; Brown had 101. Dixon also ran for two touchdowns.
“We just can’t make those silly mistakes, because a veteran team like that, you give Dixon those chances, and they’re going to score,” Lolar said.
The key was the second quarter, he said.
“That breaks you down, and it’s tough to come back from anything like that,” Lolar said. “But, we’re young, and we’ll get there.”
The Storm had 375 yards total offense to the Wild’s 165, but that total didn’t include 81 yards on Rogers’ scoring fumble returns.
“Stat sheet can be misleading,” Lolar said. “You can make stats up and make it look like we won.”
There’s still time to grow, Lolar said, especially with the Wild idle until Allen comes to town on March 24.
“It’s our third game and the third game for some of these guys who haven’t played this game,” he said. “We’ll take some time off and come back and we’ll be looking for Allen.”
1927287— 81Wichita 217 1313— 54
W – Hubbard 13 pass from Staback (kick failed)
SF – Brown 2 run (kick failed)
W – Washington 2 run (Chandler kick)
SF – Sims 45 pass from Dixon (kick failed)
W – Young 9 pass from Staback (Chandler kick)
W – Safety, Sioux Falls failed to return kick out of end zone
SF – Dixon 2 run (Douglass kick)
SF – Brown 11 pass from Dixon (Douglass kick)
SF – Sims 40 pass from Dixon (Douglass kick)
W –Staback 4 run (Chandler kick)
SF – Jones 6 pass from Dixon (kick failed)
SF – Dixon 2 run (Douglass kick)
W – Rogers 32 fumble return (Chandler kick)
SF– Solomon 1 pass from Dixon (Douglass kick)
W – Rhodes 8 pass from Staback (kick failed)
SF – Brown 14 pass from Dixon (Douglass kick)
SF – Crenshaw 10 run (Douglass kick)
SF – Fulghum 19 fumble return (Douglass kick)
W – Staback 7 run (run failed)
W – Rogers 49 fumble return (Chandler kick)
SF – Sims 12 pass from Dixon (Chandler kick)
RUSHING – Sioux Falls: Jones 4-18, Dixon 6-14, Crenshaw 1-10, Brown 1-3; Wichita: Hubbard 6-18, Simmons 1-5, Staback 4-4, Kassanavold 1-1.
PASSING – Sioux Falls: Dixon 27-29-0-330. Wichita: Staback 15-25-2-147.
RECEIVING – Sioux Falls: Sims 7-106, Brown 7-101, Jones 7-52, Solomon 5-41. Wichita: Hubbard 4-48, Pierce 3-34, Simmons 3-7, Rhodes 2-23.