SIOUX CITY – The Sioux City Bandits rallied from an early 14-point deficit to win a 69-55 shootout over the Kansas City Phantoms in a Champions Indoor Football contest at the Tyson Events Center here Saturday.
The Bandits (4-0), who entered the game averaging 40.3 points per game, erupted for a season-high 69.
“It’s nice to start putting up some points,” said Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen.
Liam Nadler completed 18 of 25 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Nadler also scrambled for a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
“He’s a heck of a competitor and he commands that huddle really well,” said Strohbeen. “We’re comfortable with the ball in his hands.”
Donovan Portiere completed 20 of 33 passes for Kansas City (1-3) for 196 yards and six touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions to Henry Livingston, including the game-sealing interception with 1:19 left in the game. Livingston returned it 17 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bandits a two-score lead at 69-55.
“They (Kansas City) throw the ball a lot,” said Strohbeen. “Our guys were definitely tested tonight. We gave up some points. In the end, we got the stops we needed. That fumble recovery and a couple of picks. Those are the kind of things we need them to do.”
The fumble recovery came midway through the second quarter. After Nadler’s scramble for a touchdown cut the Kansas City lead to 20-13, Ben Pister strip-sacked Portiere and recovered the fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive. Three plays later, Nadler threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Sheperd tying the game at 20-all with 4:39 left in the first half.
“It started out real slow and then Ben Pister kind of sparked us,” said Strohbeen. “We talked on the sidelines about someone needing to create a spark, and he went in there and got that sack for a fumble.”
Darrian Miller scored on a 6-yard run with 32 seconds left in the first half to give the Bandits a 34-33 lead. The Phantoms would tie the game three times in the second half, but Sioux City never trailed again after Miller’s touchdown.
The Bandits took the lead for good on a 2-yard touchdown run from Brandon Washington, giving Sioux City a 62-55 lead with 1:55 left in the game.
Sioux City outgained Kansas City 317-216 in total offense. The Bandits outrushed Kansas City 116-20.
“Part of our deal is running the ball and it was nice to get that ground game going tonight,” said Strohbeen.
The Phantoms also had 13 penalties for 96 yards while Sioux City had eight for 57 yards.
“We really appreciate it when our guys keep their cool,” said Strohbeen. “It was getting a little chippy out there, but credit to our guys for keeping their heads.”
The Bandits remain the lone undefeated in the North Conference. The Amarillo Venom of the South Conference are the only other undefeated team in the league.
“I say this probably every week,” said Strohbeen. “We’ve got a lot of stuff to work on and a lot of stuff to clean up. When you’re 4-0 and you’re playing your division rivals and still getting victories, you kind of see where this team can be if we clean it all up. We can have something special here.”
The Bandits play next Saturday at the Wichita Force (2-3).