SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City Bandits had to wait an extra week to try to avenge a loss that came with a little extra sting to it.
The Bandits looked to have their third win in three tries wrapped up against Bismarck, but a crazy final 1:25 that saw both teams score twice led to the Bucks pulling out a 63-61 victory.
"We had the ball at the one-minute warning and our goal was to basically run the clock out and kick the field goal and win," Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen said.
An official's judgment call in the final minute on a running play that saw the Bucks stand up Jeff Mack and drive him into the wall led to a stoppage of the clock. With the clock no longer running and with Bismarck still having two timeouts, Sioux City could no longer take all the time off the clock.
Sioux City (7-2) would score on that drive thanks to a 19-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Genuser to Jeremiah Oates, but Bismarck kicked a 35-yard field goal with no time left to win.
"The guys definitely felt like they should have won that ball game," Strohbeen said. "We went into a bye week and got a little bit healthy and I think these guys are hungry to put to rest this question of whether we can make this run."
It has not only made Saturday's matchup at the Tyson Events Center that much more interesting, but it has also decreased the margin of error for the Bandits with three games left in the regular season. The final two come on the road the next two weeks.
"It makes things interesting the last three weeks now and we were hoping to not make it that interesting," said Strohbeen whose team has a game lead on both Bloomington and Omaha in the North Division standings. "We have sealed our fate getting into the playoffs and now it is securing home field.
"Our goal is to win out and hopefully host all the playoff games we are able to make it through in Sioux City," Strohbeen said. "Our fans deserve for us to play here and that is what we want to do."
That begins by winning three of four meetings with the Bucks.
"It is always tough to beat a team that many times and they are definitely improving," said Strohbeen, whose team beat the Bucks 77-37 and 30-16 in the earlier matchups.
Bismarck (4-5) quarterback Johnathan Bane is fourth in the Champions Indoor Football League, averaging 191.7 yards passing per game. He had seven touchdown passes against Sioux City in the last matchup.
The Bandits still own the best rushing attack in the league and that was on display against the Bucks as Frederick Bruno ran for 111 yards and Dominique Carson added 84 for a team that racked up 223 yards on the ground.
However, for Strohbeen, success for his team boils down to one big category -- turnovers.
"When you look at the game we lost to West Michigan we lost the turnover battle handily and we won every other one," he said. "So my goal is to clean up any turnovers we had and we had one the other night that we felt was costly because we fumbled on the 1-yard line. We won the turnover battle but that was a big chance without scoring."
After Saturday the Bandits have road games at Omaha and Kansas City. The only team in the league with a better record than the Bandits is Dodge City which sits at 8-2 having played one more game.