Danger comeback falls short in United Bowl

By Tony Chapman
Nebraska Danger Staff Writer

Nobody should have to lose games like the 2013 United Bowl.

The Nebraska Danger and Sioux Falls Storm played an instant classic at Sioux Falls Arena on Saturday night and as any championship game should, it came down to the final possession. But, the IFL trophy will remain in South Dakota for another year as the Storm held on to defeat Nebraska 43-40 when Joe Houston missed a 43-yard field goal with 12 seconds that would have forced overtime.

"What an unbelievable effort from both teams," Danger coach Mike Davis said after the game. "You know, we said all week that we wanted to have the ball in the last minute with a chance to win the game, and that's what we got.

"I could not be more proud of this group of guys."

The Storm's third straight IFL championship was sealed by their league leading defense after quarterback Terrance Bryant connected with Clinton Solomon for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 2:45 left in the game.

Sioux Falls held the Danger to just one first down after that, setting up Houstor's field goal. But, the Storm's touchdown earlier came after a play that could have gone either way.

After Marcus Barnett gave the Danger a 40-36 lead with 3:13 left, it appeared he had recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. But, a simultaneous recovery was called, giving Sioux Falls the football and on the first play, Bryant hit Solomon for the game-winner.

"That was a tough one to swallow," Davis said. "But, you can't say one play changed the outcome of the game. We had chances and they had chances and the ball bounced their way in the end. Our hats are off to Sioux Falls as they deserved to win the game."

It was nearly an improbable Nebraska comeback.

Down 33-24 late in the third quarter, Nebraska appeared to be dead to rights as the Storm had first and goal inside the 1-yard line. But, linebacker Maurice Simpkins forced a fumble of SF running back Tory Harrison and Darnell Terrell recovered. The play set up Houston's 37-yard field goal which cut the lead to 33-27.

After a Douglass field goal with 13:08 left in the game made the score 36-27, Nebraska went to work. Jameel Sewell capped a 39-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run up the middle of the field to cut the lead to 36-34. On Sioux Falls' next possession, Deivon Tate went over the dasher board for an interception in the end zone that set up Barnett's big play for the lead.

An evenly played first half favored the defensive pace set by the Storm. A frantic final minute — which saw the lead change hands three times — ended with Sioux Falls holding a 24-23 advantage after Parker Douglass kicked a 17-yard field goal with two seconds left.

Sioux Falls took control in the third quarter. They scored on the second play of the half when Bryant hit James Terry for a 39-yard touchdown pass and on the Danger's ensuing possession, Sewell was tackled in the end zone for a safety and a 33-23 Storm lead.

"The start of the second half was tough on us," Davis said. "It just made it that much harder for us to get back in the game. When you get down two possessions like we did against a great team that makes it a tough hill to climb."

Nebraska's first playoff season in franchise history comes to an end with an 11-5 record after they entered the year having just won eight games in their first two seasons. Sewell, the league MVP, accounted for five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing) and 260 totals yards to lead the Danger. Bryant was named MVP of the game for Sioux Falls after throwing 182 yards and four touchdowns.

"I'm extremely proud of the effort this team gave throughout the season," Danger General Manager Mike McCoy said. "We are thankful for their hard work and hope to continue our momentum into next season. We are appreciative of the great support of the fans we have received through the season as well."

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