Danger Defense controls game against Wolves

Danger Defense controls game against Wolves

James Ackel pulled in three interceptions as the Nebraska Danger out run the Billings Wolves 45-31 at the Heartland Events Center.

The Danger defensive set the tone early in the game, forcing a three and out field goal attempt from Billings. Wolves kicker Spencer Groner came out and pushed his first kick wide left, turning the ball over to the Danger. The defensive tone continued as Jameel Sewell forced a throw that was intercepted by Billings on fourth down. The Danger stepped up again, forcing the Wolves into another field goal situation. This time Billings punched it in to take a 3-0 lead. The ensuing kick was returned 32 yards by Lyle McCombs. Three plays later, Jameel Sewell used a quarterback sneak to get the Danger into the end zone for the first time on the night, giving the Danger a 7-3 lead. The ball got a little slippery to end the second quarter as the Danger fumbled after getting a solid defensive stop that included a stuff on fourth down by Cory Grissom for the Danger.

"Defense played a huge part of the first quarter. We both threw some punches and made some turnovers that kept the score low," said Head Coach Mike Davis.

The second quarter continued the spread of the turnover bug as Wolves quarterback Mason Espinosa threw a pass that was picked off by Nebraska defensive back James Ackel. Just a few plays later, Jameel Sewell hit OJ Simpson for a touchdown that extended the Danger lead to 11 with a score of 14-3. The Wolves responded with a touchdown of their own as Mason Espinosa found former Danger player Marcus Barnett for a touchdown cutting into the Nebraska lead making it a 14-10 game. The Danger offense could not be stopped however, as Lyle McCombs took a right side pitch 33 yards downfield for a touchdown getting the lead back to 11 for the Danger with a 21-10 score. Billings took a short kick back to the Nebraska 22-yard line, hoping to keep the game in reach. Much to their dismay, James Ackel came away with his second interception on the night giving Nebraska the ball back once again. After the Billings defense stiffened up, Nebraska sent the kicking squad onto the field for a field goal attempt. A fake field goal on 4th down went awry for the Danger, as holder James Ackel's pass was intercepted by Billings' B.J. Butler who returned the ball for a touchdown. After the Wolves' failed two point conversion the score ended up 21-16 with the Danger still retaining the lead. The Danger woes continued as a Sewell pass was batted into the air and intercepted again by B.J. Butler for his second interception on the night, ending up at the Nebraska 1-yard line. On the next play Billings' running back Ranier Rackley ran the ball into the end zone to give the Wolves their first lead since the beginning of the game, with a score of 24-21. A decent kick return kept the Danger in the hunt for a score before the half. A few plays later, with 10.9 seconds left in the half, Sewell found Marquel Wade for a touchdown giving the Danger back the lead 28-24. The Wolves got the ball back with seven seconds left and after two Danger penalties, Billings had an opportunity to at least kick a field goal from the Nebraska 20-yard line. However, Danger defensive lineman Bernard Smith broke through the line and blocked the kick, ending the first half. Although only a four point game at this point, Billings' 23 plays in the first half only netted 42 total yards and they averaged 1.8 yards per play.

"The first half was crazy and it was our mistakes that kept them in the game. If you only allow 42 offensive yards in the first half you should have a larger lead than four points," Davis said.

The Danger got the ball to start the second half and a stalled drive led to a missed field goal by Cody Thornton. On the next play Wolves quarterback Espinosa fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Danger who quickly punched it in for a touchdown on a McCombs run. The Danger now led by nine points 35-24. After burning some clock on the next drive, Billings running back Rackley fumbled the ball. It was scooped up and run into the end zone for a touchdown by Ino Vitale, extending the Danger lead with a score of 42-25, their largest margin of the night.

The fourth quarter began with Billings scoring a touchdown on an Espinosa run, cutting the Danger lead to nine points 42-31. The Wolves drive spanned nearly seven minutes. The Danger then began to burn some clock themselves using up four minutes on their way to a field goal, giving them a 14 point lead 45-31. On the next Billings drive, James Ackel got his third interception of the night giving the Danger the ball at their own one-yard line with 7:44 left in the game. After running off another four minutes of clock, Thornton missed a field goal wide left giving Billings the ball to make up 14 points in 3:17. After the Danger defense forced another fumble, recovered by Bernard Smith, Nebraska took a knee to run out the clock ending the game with the final score 45-31.

"At times it wasn't pretty but we got the win. I was most impressed with the defensive showing tonight. Now we get back to practice as we head to Des Moines next week," Davis said.

The Danger next play the Iowa Barnstormers on April 9th in Des Moines.

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