Saturday night’s Champions Indoor Football game had a whoever-had-the-ball-last kind of feel all night.
It didn’t quite work out that way, but it was close.
Omaha scored 11 touchdowns to the Bucks’ 10 in a 79-78 win at the Bismarck Event Center.
“It’s a great win for us. It would have been pretty demoralizing to drive here nine hours and lose and then have to drive nine hours all the way back to Omaha,” Beef quarterback John Gibbs said. “At least now we can feel good driving all the way back.”
The loss spoiled a huge performance by Tray Boone. The Bismarck running back by way of Dickinson State scored six touchdowns, three different ways, in his first starting assignment of the season.
Boone’s 50-yard kickoff return for a touchdown gave Bismarck a 78-72 with less than 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter. However, Evan Connolly’s extra-point banged off the right post and fell no good.
Gibbs then engineered a game-winning 45-yard drive, capped by a 14-yard strike to Jeremiah Eaton with seven seconds left.
Bismarck had a 46-yard field attempt at the buzzer, but it sailed off to the right.
Gibbs turned in a 204-yard, seven-touchdown performance for the Beef.
“We’re getting more comfortable playing together, just some of the little things that can only come in game situations,” said Gibbs, who was starting his second game of the season. “Bismarck is a hostile place to play. Their fans really get into it. Just a great ballgame and we’re very happy get out of here with a win.”
Aaron Aiken fired five touchdown passes for the Bucks, who fell to 4-5. Bismarck plays at Wichita next Saturday.
Both teams went up and down the field in the first half, especially late.
In the last 56 seconds of the second quarter, each team scored two touchdowns, leaving things knotted 37-37 at halftime.
The Bucks scored on all seven of their first-half possessions. Boone, filling in for injured running back Zavier Steward, had three short touchdowns.
The Bucks also scored through the air when quarterback Aiken hooked up with Tarrell Downing for a 23-yard strike late in the opening period. At that point, Bismarck led 17-6 after forcing Omaha to a pair 4-and-outs in the first quarter.
Omaha got it rolling in the second quarter, hanging 31 points on the board. The Beef looked like they’d be down at the half, but John Gibbs found Brandlynn Clark for a 45-yard bomb with just 2 seconds left on the block. Tucker Miliken booted home the PAT to knot it. A 45-yard scoring play equates to a 95-yarder on a full-sized field.
Connolly was perfect on field goals for the Bucks in the first 30 minutes, including a 40-yarder for the first points of the game.