OMAHA | The 31-game winning streak of the Sioux City Bandits is over.
Judd Harrold caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from James McNear in the second overtime to give the Omaha Beef a 32-26 Champions Professional Indoor Football League victory at Ralston Arena Sunday afternoon.
Facing Omaha for the first time since 2010 when both teams played in the Indoor Football League, the Bandits played their longest game in franchise history. The Sioux City Attack lost 31-24 in overtime to the Topeka Knights on May 6, 2000.
The only other overtime game in Bandits’ history came on May 11, 2002 when fans at the old Sioux City Auditorium saw the Rapid City Red Dogs fall 48-45.
Omaha (3-0), the CPIFL’s lone undefeated team, stretched its winning streak over the Bandits to nine games. Leaders by a 17-7 margin in the series which dates back to 2001, when both teams played in the National Indoor Football League, the Beef have also handed Sioux City seven losses by seven points or less.
McNear completed 21 of 36 passes for 187 yards and five touchdowns. Harrold, a 6-5, 235-pounder, had nine catches for 107 yards and three touchdowns, including a 12-yarder with 44 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that knotted the score at 26-all.
Quarterback Scott Jensen completed 7 of 18 passes for 80 yards and an 18-yard touchdown to Fredrick Bruno in the third quarter. Sioux City (3-1) also got a 53-yard rushing performance and touchdown runs of nine and three yards from Johnny Bentley, the three-yarder producing a 26-20 lead with 13:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Jensen was unable to complete a pass his top receiver, Eddie Pertilla (10 catches, 215 yards, 8 TDs), and was also sacked four times. However, Pertilla played a role as Coach Erv Strohbeen’s attempted to score the game-winning touchdown following Harrold’s scoring catch.
Jensen’s pass was off target to Pertilla, but the Beef were called for pass interference, pushing the ball forward to Omaha’s 8-yard line with 25 seconds left. Former Iowa Blackhawk Steve Rush had a reception at the 2-yard line and Bentley rushed for a 1-yard gain, but Rush was unable to make a catch as time expired.
An interception in the end zone by the Bandits in the first overtime marked the first time McNear had been picked off all season. Jensen was unable to connect a pass to a wide-open Bentley on the Bandits’ first play from scrimmage and two plays later, was sacked.
Max Martin had two chances to kick a game-winning field goal. An illegal defense penalty on a 40-yard miss that was just wide to the left gave Martin, a former Sioux City North athlete, a 35-yard try that also went wide to the left.
Martin missed a 30-yard field goal in the second overtime. The Bandits’ defensive line put heavy pressure on McNear, which led to two missed passes, the second of which was broken up by Rahn Franklin.
Harrold’s game-winning score came on the next play.
During a game that produced two ties and three lead changes, Spetlar Tonga blocked a extra-point kick in the second quarter while Anthony Thomas blocked a field goal in the third quarter.
Jon Smith topped the Bandits’ defense with seven tackles, while Marshall Barney added six.
Sioux City will play at Salina (Kan.) Friday night. The Salina Bombers improved to 2-1 with a 50-31 win over the Oklahoma Defenders Saturday.