SIOUX CITY -- It was almost a complete turnaround from week one to week two for the Sioux City Bandits against the Omaha Beef on Saturday.
A week after struggling in the first week of the season against Salina, the Bandits bounced back and looked like an improved squad against their North division rival on Saturday at the Tyson Events Center.
While the Bandits still did have a few miscues, they cleaned up a good amount of their play and won their home-opener, defeated the Beef 43-32.
The win puts the Bandits at 1-1 and the Beef falls to 1-1. Bandits head coach Erv Strohbeen said the team had to avoid an 0-2 start to the season if they wanted to compete deep into the playoffs this season.
"Anytime you can get a win against a rival, that's a huge win and against a North division opponent, that's a huge win," Strohbeen said. "We couldn't start 0-2 against division opponents and have a good shot. It's good to get a win under the belt and have some confidence moving forward.
"We had a good crowd and hopefully they continue to pack the stands. Homefield advantage is a big deal in our league. I hope they come out and enjoy the entertainment."
The Bandits got off to a good start in the game. Greg Conry connected on a 33-yard field goal with 12:35 left in the first quarter and a three-yard touchdown run by Todd Macon put the Bandits up 10-0 going into the second quarter.
The Bandits then got two points off a safety to start the second and two minutes later, Andre London scored on a four-yard run to put Sioux City up 19-0.
Omaha did cut into Sioux City's lead before halftime. Antonio Bray scored on a 50-yard kickoff return and with 4:22 left in the half, Bray scored on a 25-yard run to cut the Bandits lead to 19-14.
Dorian Cowart scored on a one-yard touchdown to put the Bandits back up by two scores 15 seconds before halftime. Then Ben Pister picked off a pass right before the half. Cory Murphy scored on an eight-yard run to give the Bandits a 33-14 lead at halftime.
"It was great to start 19-0. I did get a little concerned when we blew the lead but essentially we were able to recover right before the half with Pister's interception," Strohbeen said. "It was a roller-coaster of how we played. Some moments we played better and some moments we still shot ourselves in the foot. But I'm happy with how we played and I happy with the victory."
Bray scored on a 21-yard run to start the second half and Zeke Arevalo made a 24-yard field goal to get the Beef within 33-25.
The Bandits opened the fourth quarter with a seven-yard touchdown run by Daryl Virgies to go up 40-25. Bray scored again, this time a six-yard run, to put the Beef within eight points with 12:07 remaining but the Bandits held Omaha scoreless the rest of the way.
Conry made an 18-yard field goal with 5:59 left as the Bandits won 43-32.
"I think we played a lot more physical than last week," Strohbeen said. "Maybe it was a lot of rookies getting their feet wet. I thought we played a lot more physical and I hope that leads to good things to come down the road."
Sioux City rushed for 112 yards as a team. Macon the attack with 13 rushes for 43 yards. Bray rushed for 108 yards on 18 carries for Omaha.
Pister finished with eight tackles, four for a loss, one sack, a blocked kick and an interception. Schleuger had seven tackles. Devon Bridges had three tackles for a loss and Samuel Mabany had a sack.
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