Tim Simmons’ clutch touchdown in the final seconds Saturday put the Wichita Wild up 39-38 over Bloomington. But it wasn’t only Simmons who carried the Wild to its victory; kicker James Chandler took the lead.
The victory clinched a playoff spot for Wichita.
“We call (Chandler) ‘Money,’ ” Simmons said. “He’s got the strongest leg in the league, and he very rarely misses.”
Chandler finished with four significant field goals of 47, 45, 45, and 37 yards.
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“He’s injured, he probably shouldn’t be kicking, but he’s a warrior, and this is what he does,” Wild coach Morris Lolar said. “Every week he keeps getting better.”
Saturday’s game ended almost exactly how it began, with a Wild touchdown and a missed Bloomington field goal attempt.
Tim Simmons’ 17-yard touchdown catch from Phil Staback started the game, followed by a 48-yard Bloomington field goal attempt that missed wide right. But Bloomington’s touchdown with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter changed Wichita’s pace.
The second quarter started with a 13-7 Wichita lead, but two Bloomington interceptions and two touchdowns gave the Edge the lead for the first time.
“The one thing we haven’t been doing is turning the ball over, and we turned the ball over in the second quarter three times,” Lolar said. “Not turning the ball over I thought would be the key to the game … but I figured our conditioning would win out in the fourth quarter.”
Bloomington did not allow Wichita to score again until the final two seconds of the second quarter, when Chandler hit from 37 yards.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself, I should make every kick. When I get an opportunity like that I need to tell myself to relax,” Chandler said. “Coming down toward the end of the half and we’re in an opportunity to score, we had to take advantage of that.”
The turning point came in the third quarter, when Kendric Harper returned an interception for a touchdown, his first of two interceptions.
Chandler’s final field goal came with 7:32 left in the game, giving the lead back to the Wild. Bloomington scored another touchdown, but Simmons’ touchdown with 41 seconds remaining gave Wichita its one-point lead. Bloomington’s last-second 41-yard field goal attempt missed wide right.
“It was James’ turn to step up and make a couple of field goals, and he stepped up and made his field goals,” Lolar said.
W—Simmons 17 pass from Staback (Chandler kick)
W—Chandler 45 field goal
W—Chandler 47 field goal
B—Clark 23 pass from Burk (Christofilakos kick)
B—Dowdell 22 pass from Burk (Christofilakos kick)
B—Cooper 16 pass from Burk (Christofilakos kick)
W— Chandler 37 field goal
B—Wendell 11 pass from Burk (Christofilakos kick)
W—Harper 17 interception (Chandler kick)
B—Christofilakos 23 field goal
W—Bright 1 run (Chandler kick)
W—Chandler 45 field goal
B—Cooper 7 pass from Burk (Christofilakos kick)
W—Simmons 11 pass from Jackson (two-point conversion failed)
Rushing—Bloomington, Raymond 13-47, Clark 1-5, Burk 2-1, Ficklin 1-1, Randolph 1-0. Wichita, Hubbard 12-40, Jackson 10-38, Staback 2-12, Bright 2-3.
Passing—Bloomington, Burk 23-33-3-220. Wichita, Staback 6-12-1-76, Jackson 5-11-1-40.
Receiving—Bloomington, Cooper 6-83, Clark 5-56, Raymond 7-34, Dowdell 1-22, Brown 1-11, Lenhart 2-8, Joseph 1-6. Wichita, Simmons 4-49, Hubbard 3-34, Turner 2-18, Murph 2-15.