From the Bismarck Bucks' perspective, the start of Saturday's Indoor Football League game was the stuff of nightmares.
Sioux Falls scored defensive touchdowns on back-to-back plays late in the first period for a 24-0 lead and went on to a 52-18 victory at the Event Center.
With the victory, Sioux Falls upped its record to 3-0. The Bucks stand 0-3.
The visiting Storm took a quick 10-0 lead on a field goal by Miles Bergner and 13-yard touchdown run by quarterback Lorenzo Brown. Then things really went south in the final four minutes of the first quarter.
Bismarck was facing a third-and-five from its own 19 when quarterback John Gibbs went to the air. Storm free safety Matt McKoy stepped in front of the pass at his own 15 and zipped 35 yards untouched for the second Sioux Falls TD. Bergner's kick made it 17-0.
McKoy, a 6-1, 218-pounder who played his college football at Saginaw Valley State in Michigan, said once he filched Gibbs' pass all he had to do was sprint.
"There might have been slight contact with the receiver, but after that it was kind of free range," he said.
Sioux Falls kicked off and Antwan Smith muffed the erratically-bouncing ball. Christopher Taylor crashed into Smith in the end zone, popping the football free. DeAndre scott recovered the loose ball for a special teams score. Another Bergner kick provided Sioux Falls with a 24-0 cushion with 3:24 to play in the opening period.
Bucks coach Rod Miller said the effects of the woeful first quarter had a ripple effect.
"You can't start out spotting a team two touchdowns on the opposite side of the ball," he said. "That put us in a hole early and changed our game plan. You can't do a lot of running, and we thought we could run against them."
Sitting pretty after one period, the Storm didn't let up or get sloppy.
Two more scoring passes by Brown, one a 31-yard bomb to Brandon Sheperd, and a two-yard blast by Darrian Miller, enabled Sioux Falls to open a 45-3 halftime gap. The game, at that point, was, for all practical purposes, over.
McKoy, playing just his second game of indoor football, said the Storm's final defensive readout -- 168 yards on 50 plays, 12 first downs, three takeaways and 18 points surrendered -- was good, but ...
"It still wasn't as good as it could have been. We've still got some learning to do. We're still trying to jell and define our character as a defense," he said.
Nonetheless, the Storm defenders realized two game objectives.
"We caused three turnovers and scored on defense. That's two goals we accomplished," McKoy observed.
On the other side of the ball, the Storm rushed for 100 yards on 22 carries, passed for 141 yards and turned the ball over just once.
Brown paced the ground game with 51 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and threw for 241 yards on 12-for-17 efficiency with one interception.
The game was marred by seven 15-yard penalties. Sioux Falls was whistled for three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and a personal foul. Bismarck was socked for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and a personal foul.
Coach Miller said surrendering defensive touchdowns is always a negative. Against Sioux Falls, doubly so.
"They've won championships for a reason," Miller noted.
McKoy is optimistic.
"I think this team has the potential for a lot, but we don't look too far ahead," he said.
Bismarck returns to action on March 30, playing host to Nebraska at 6:05 p.m.