No matter how a football game develops over the first three quarters, the Force often finds a way to make it close in the fourth.
The Force is thriving in tightly-contested games, even if the avenues toward those tossups are inconsistent. Wichita has won the last four of its games decided by seven or fewer points, including last week’s 46-40 overtime win over Salina.
Wichita is on its sixth starting quarterback and has seen other defections from its offense, but coach Paco Martinez said the 4-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less is reflective of the Force’s fortitude.
“All the adversity that we’ve faced with losing quarterbacks and having injuries and just different things that we’ve faced, we’ve fought through it all,” Martinez said. “We’re really tough, we’re mentally tough – physically prepared for everything, and that has helped us pull out close games.”
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Against Salina, the Force trailed 40-26 in the final five minutes before scoring two touchdowns to send it to overtime. Kiaree Daniels stopped Salina’s potentially game-winning drive with an interception near the goal line, which he returned 49 yards for the decisive touchdown in a 46-40 win.
The Force’s close games have often seen similar shifts in momentum. Against Omaha in Week 2, Wichita had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and led by 21 points on two occasions earlier before hanging on for a 45-42 win.
Earlier this month against Dodge City, the Force’s biggest lead was 35-13, and Wichita led 45-28 with about five minutes to go. Tywon Hubbard stretched the lead from three to 10 with a late touchdown and the Force won 52-49, needing to recover an onside kick in the final seconds.
The trend worked in reverse against Saturday’s opponent, Sioux City, on March 28. The Force held Sioux City scoreless for the fourth quarter in a 42-35 win.
“We know we don’t play 100 percent up to our potential every single week,” Martinez said. “But when we need to, when we need to buckle down and we need to get some scores … we get it.
“That’s just the mentality that our team takes with the leadership we have on the team: ‘Play the next play. You might have had three bad quarters, but this is the fourth quarter, let’s get it together now and get this thing rolling.’”
Sioux City at Force
When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
Where: Intrust Bank Arena
Records: Sioux City 6-3, Force 7-3
Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM