SIOUX CITY | It was a great birthday present, it was going into retirement on top and, most of all, it was a title for Sioux City.
The Sioux City Bandits finally got the defensive stops when they needed them in the second half to down Texas 76-61 to claim the Champions Indoor Football league title in front of 3,757 fans at Tyson Events Center on Saturday.
The title was the first for the Bandits since back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012 when the team played in the American Professional Football League. It also ended a run of playoff heartbreak for the team as it lost a home playoff game to Salina two years ago and fell to Wichita to finish as the runner-up last season.
"I can't even put this one into words right now with a championship win on my birthday," said Bandits wide receiver Damon Mothershead, who said this will be his last game. "This is the sweetest one. Nothing against the APFL or CPIFL, but this one we earned."
The Revolution (9-5) came into the game riding a four-game winning streak and were stride for stride with the Bandits until late in the third quarter when the Sioux City defense got its first stop of the game.
Texas kicked from deep in its own end zone and the Bandits' Frederick Bruno returned the ball to the 10-yard line. Mothershead ran the ball nine yards and Drew Prohaska went over the top for the third time in the game from a yard out to put Sioux City up 55-47.
"First half we struggled and the second half we started blitzing and it started working for us," said Bandits defensive end Marcus Miles of the defensive adjustment in the second half. "It was about pressure because they are not a team that wants to throw the ball deep."
One stop led to another in the fourth quarter and Sioux City had its title as Rahn Franklin sealed it with a late interception, his 11th of the season.
"This is surreal right now because to be 2-3 and to be where we are right now, no one would have believed that," Franklin said. "We were so hungry man and that sour taste will never leave your mouth until you have a chance to redeem yourself."
Texas hurt itself with 15 penalties and six failed point after touchdown attempts.
Bandits quarterback Charles Dowdell capped his season going 8 of 11 for 136 yards and four scores including a 39-yard bomb to Willie Downs to reach the final margin.
"We just wanted to take a shot and put it out of them and get the dagger," Dowdell said. "It really worked out for us."
Sioux City had the most prolific offense in the league averaging 60 points a game and it was at it again on Saturday. The Bandits scored on their first three possessions of the game to take a 21-13 lead. That stretched Sioux City's consecutive possessions scoring points in the postseason to 15.
However, Sioux City would give the ball to the Revolution on its next possession when Dowdell fumbled while scrambling. Texas scored on a 1-yard run from Robert Williams to take its first lead 25-21.
The teams would trade the lead the rest of the half as Bruno had three scores in the first 30 minutes including a 38-yard kickoff return, his sixth of the season. Dowdell and his Texas counterpart, Robert Kent Jr., both threw three touchdowns in the first half.
Kern Jr. threw for 131 yards and four touchdowns and ran for three more.
The Revolution came into the game known for its defense, but it was the offense that stood tall in the first half as Texas scored every time it had the ball leading to the 35-all tie at halftime.
Texas used its running game and an ability to convert third- and fourth-and-long situations to keep pace with Sioux City.
Sioux City (11-3) reeled off nine straight wins to capture the title which was a major success for numerous Bandits veterans that were part of the last championship team.
"This is why I came back and I am glad that I am going out like this," Bentley said. "This was about redemption."
Sioux City finished its first year in the new CIF with a perfect 8-0 record at the Tyson Events Center. It was an impressive finish to a season that saw Dowdell named the league MVP, Bruno earned co-special teams player of the year honors, and Strohbeen was named coach of the year for the second straight season. Strohbeen is now 45-10 with two championships during his four years as head coach.
Sioux City 76, Texas 61
Texas 19 16 12 14 -- 61
Sioux City 21 14 20 21 -- 76
SC: Frederick Bruno 19 pass from Charles Dowdell (Max Martin kick), 13:26
T: Robert Kent Jr. 1 run (Manuel Cruz kick), 11:06
SC: Bruno 38 yard kick return (Martin kick), 10:57
T: Ronald Gaudin 17 pass from Kent Jr. (Cruz kick failed), 9:49
SC: Willie Downs 17 pass from Dowdell (Martin kick), 8:25
T: Fudge 7 pass from Kent Jr. (kick failed), 4:34
T: Robert Williams 1 run (Run failed), 13:06
SC: Drew Prohaska 1 run (Martin kick), 9:06
T: Jordan Brown 21 pass from Kent Jr. (Cruz kick), 4:20
SC: Bruno 20 pass from Dowdell (Martin kick), 3:14
T: Cruz 22 FG, :17
T: Frankie Solomon Jr. 55 kick return (kick failed), 14:47K
SC: Prohaska 1 run (Martin kick failed), 9:33
T: Kent Jr. 12 run (Perez kick failed), 6:58
SC: Johnny Bentley 1 run (Martin kick), 4:46
SC: Prohaska 1 run (Martin kick), 1:02
T: Kent Jr. 1 run (run failed), 11:48
SC: Prohaska 4 run (Martin kick), 8:42
SC: Bentley 2 run (Martin kick), 5:20
T: Gaudin 12 pass from Kent Jr. (pass good), 3:13
SC: Downs 39 pass from Dowdell (Martin kick), 2:41
Texas Sioux City
First downs 22 22
Passing yards 131 129
Passes 11-25-1 8-11-1
Total plays-yards 59-279 47-258
Fumbles-lost 2-0 4-1
Penalties-yards 15-88 5-32
Possession time 33:34 26:26
RUSHING: Texas – Darius Fudge 13-64, Robert Kent Jr. 8-32, Joran Brown 7-27, Jason Stephenson 3-21, Ronald Gaudin 1-4, Robert Williams 2-2. Sioux City – Drew Prohaska 11-27, Johnny Bentley 10-35, Damon Mothershead 2-10, Charles Dowdell 4-6, Frederick Bruno 7-44, Willie Downs 1-7.
PASSING: Texas -- Kent Jr. 11-25-1 131 yards. Sioux City – Dowdell 8-11-1 136.
RECEIVING: Texas -- Brown 4-49, Gaudin 3-41, Fudge 2-21, Kameron Young 1-18, Jason Stephenson 1-2. Sioux City – Bruno 4-57, Downs 3-70, Bentley 1-9.
TEXAS: Jamaal White 7-2--9, Lendy Holmes 6-1--7, Frankie Solomon Jr. 3-3--6, Emmanuel Souarin 4-1--5, Taylor McCuller 1-4--5.
SIOUX CITY: Richard Daniel 8-2--10, Jonathan Smith 3-6--9, Marlon Lobban 4-4--8, Cliff Stokes 3-4--6, Anthony Thomas 2-3--5.