Wichita Force

Fudge steals show in Wild victory

It wasn't at all surprising that star running back Darius Fudge scored yet another touchdown for the Wichita Wild on Saturday night. The stunner was where he ended up: Section 105, Row 2.

As expected, the Wild handled the winless Colorado Ice fairly easily, 54-40, in an Indoor Football League game in Hartman Arena.

While the passing game was inconsistent for the second straight week, Fudge continues to be reliable, and even spectacular.

An example of the latter came in the third quarter when he finished off a short TD run by leaping into the air and stretching the football over the goal line just before he was knocked over the padded wall and into the stands, where he was surrounded by smiling Wild supporters.

"I didn't know where I was for a second," said Fudge, whose leap put the Wild up 38-20. "But I was so glad I ended up right there. The fans embraced me. It was fun. It's all about the fans."

Fudge, the IFL rookie of the year last season, finished with three touchdown runs, giving him a league-leading eight in three games for the Wild (2-1).

But Fudge didn't limit himself to running the ball.

Late in the fourth quarter with the game already decided, he surprised everyone, including coach Ken Matous, by tossing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Clinton Solomon on a halfback option.

"I don't know if coach liked it, but when it became a touchdown I knew he couldn't complain," Fudge said.

True, and Matous never complains about Fudge anyway.

"He's such a good player," Matous said. "He's just so good on everything — he threw a few big-time blocks tonight. He's good people."

Quarterback Dixie Wooten, who was limited to one practice this week because of a sprained thumb on his throwing hand, completed 10 of 23 passes for 124 yards.

He also threw an interception — his third in two weeks — and lost a fumble, but he did throw two touchdown passes, including a key 32-yarder to Solomon at the end of the first half to put his team up 28-12.

"You could see he's a little rusty," Matous said. "He's delivering it late, but he'll be fine."

The Wild's defense was dominant at times but, like the offense, inconsistent. Colorado (0-3) was limited to 65 total yards through the first two quarters but finished with 193.

"The defense was decent," Matous said. "We got a pretty big lead there and kind of relaxed."

Notes — Colorado kicker Daniel Zeidman kicked a 57-yard field goal, a league record, in the first quarter. He added a 50-yarder later.... Justin McKinney, who played at Kansas State, scored his first touchdown on a 13-yard return of a missed field goal. The kick smacked into the back of a Colorado player and in to the air. McKinney grabbed it, made a nice move and dove into the end zone.... Linebacker Tanis Ready recorded the Wild's first sack of the season.... Wild receiver Hurtiss Chinn left the field with an injured ankle in the fourth quarter.

Colorado 9 3 8 20 — 40 Wichita 13 15 16 10 — 54

W—Fudge 12 run (Pohlman kick)

W—Payne 11 pass from Wooten (kick blocked)

C—Purify 30 pass from Millius (kick failed)

C—Zeidman 59 FG

W—Fudge 5 run (Pohlman kick)

W—rouge; Colorado fails to get ball out of end zone on kickoff

C—Zeidman 52 field goal

W—Solomon 32 pass from Wooten (Pohlman kick)

C—Gibson 26 pass from Millus (Purify run)

W—Pohlman 23 field goal

W—Fudge 2 run (Pohlman kick)

W—McKinney 13 missed field goal return (kick blocked)

C—Purify 7 pass from Millus (pass failed)

W—Pohlman 45 field goal

C—Ellis 2 run (English pass from Ellis)

W—Solomon 8 pass from Fudge (Pohlman kick)

C—Purify 27 pass from Ellis (pass failed)

Individual statistics

Rushing—Colorado, Ellis 8-33, Purify 9-20, Cheeseman 3-17, Godsil 1-0, Millus 2-(-1). Wichita, Fudge 14-58, Walker 1-23, Wooten 4-14, Chinn 2-(-2).

Passing—Colorado, Ellis 7-16-0-72, Millus 4-7-0-60; Wichita, Wooten 10-23-1-124; Fudge 1-1-0-8.

Receiving—Colorado, Purify 5-73, Gibson 3-36, English 2-17, Sleeth 1-6. Wichita, Solomon 5-64, Payne 2-24, Walker 1-27, Fudge 1-13, Chinn 2-4.

Att.— 2,634