SIOUX CITY – After dropping the last two games, the Sioux City Bandits had a chance to steal a game from the Salina Liberty but fumbled the ball away with seven seconds left in a 60-58 loss in a Champions Indoor Football contest at the Tyson Event Center here Saturday.
After a turnover on downs, the Bandits (4-3) took over on their own 15-yard line with 38 seconds left in the game trailing 60-58. On third-and-5, Liam Nadler completed a pass to Brandon Sheperd for six yards and a first down with about 15 seconds left in the game.
Sioux City was out of timeouts and ran to the line to spike the ball, but the snap was muffed and Salina (5-2) recovered the fumble with seven seconds left.
The loss knocks Sioux City out of a four-way tie for first place in the North Conference.
“I’ve got to find guys that want to right the ship,” Erv Strohbeen said frankly. “We’ve got the athletes. We can’t do any more as coaches. We can’t go out there and play. I’ve tried to motivate these guys. We just have to step up. Somebody on this team has to step up and be a leader and I don’t see it right now.”
After a rough first half, the Sioux City defense got a stop when the Bandits needed it most, late in the game. Leading 60-58, Salina had a third-and-1 from the Sioux City 16-yard line with 45 seconds remaining.
Ben Pister and C.J. Jones combined to stop running back Dominque Carson for a 1-yard loss and set up a fourth down. The Liberty went for it, and Zac Schleuger stopped quarterback Derrick Bernard on an option short of the line to gain to give Sioux City the ball back.
“We gave up a lot of points,” said Strohbeen. “But when we needed it, they gave us a chance. They came up huge with the fourth down stop. We had a chance to win the ball game and our defense gave us that chance.”
The two teams combined for 12 touchdowns in the first half and Salina took a 44-41 lead into halftime.
“I told those guys that we were on pace for a 100 point night on both ends,” said Strohbeen. “We made some adjustments and I’m sure they did too. We came out and turned the ball over and didn’t score a few times. Against a team that’s shooting out with you, you have to score every time.”
The speedy Salina offense finished with 341 yards of total offense. Bernard completed 14 of 19 passes for 221 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Bernard also had 13 carries for 61 yards and a score while keeping numerous passing plays alive with his legs. Carson had 13 carries for 86 yards and three scores and added four catches for 66 yards and a score.
“Dominique Carson played for us last year,” said Strohbeen. “We’ve played against Derrick Bernard now a couple different times. Those guys are shifty. You’ve got to play assignment football, break down and tackle them. They’re good.”
Nadler completed 18 of 29 passes for 180 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Darrian Miller had 71 yards rushing and receiving and scored four touchdowns.
The Bandits host the Omaha Beef on Saturday in the second game of a three-game home stand.