For the first time since 2010, and the first time in head coach Erv Strohbeen's tenure, the Sioux City Bandits missed the playoffs.
The Bandits traveled to Omaha on Saturday and the winner earned a spot in the playoffs. The loser missed the playoffs.
Early in the third quarter, the Bandits built a big enough lead to answer Omaha score-for-score. But midway through the third quarter, Sioux City's offense started to stall and the defense had trouble getting a stop.
The combination of the two helped Omaha build a two-score lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Bandits offense started to going again and took a one-point lead later in the fourth quarter, but the Beef had an answer and went on to win 60-50 on Saturday as Sioux City ended the season with a 7-5 record.
Out of the five losses for the Bandits, four of them were by six points or less.
"It's an expectation to be successful around here. The ball just didn't bounce our way this year and it caught us in the end," Strohbeen said. "I am proud of the guys for never quitting. I love the fact that there was no quit in these guys at all."
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Strohbeen was an assistant from 2009 to 2011 before taking over as the head coach in 2012.
The Bandits did have more yards than Omaha, 383 to 275. Dillon Turner passed for 230 yards and six touchdowns and he ran for 89 more yards and a score. Bubba Jenkins rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown. Frederick Bruno caught seven passes for 101 yards and two scores and Londell Lee caught three touchdowns.
But the Bandits offense stalled at key times, though. A drive to the one-yard line led to a blocked field goal. The Bandits ended up having three kicks blocked in the game.
The Beef took advantage and a 21-0 run gave Omaha the lead in the fourth quarter.
We did what we wanted to do, kept it close in the first half and we deferred. We took the lead in the second half and that was the goal if we were going to trade scores," Strohbeen said. "The Beef played good defense. We just didn't capitalize on all of our opportunities and the Beef played lights out in the second half."
Touchdown receptions by Lee and Bruno got the Bandits without three but the Beef matched Sioux City score for score the rest of the way to get the win and a spot in the playoffs.
"Offensively we put up some numbers. Just in a tight game, both sides of the ball didn't capitalize," Strohbeen said.