Week 16 - Barnstormers blast Screaming Eagles, 58-36 Jun 2, 2017 20:58:18 GMT -8
Post by DiamondThief on Jun 2, 2017 20:58:18 GMT -8
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT - Jamie Bender was on a mission tonight.
The defensive back intercepted four passes and recovered a fumble as the Iowa Barnstormers pulled away in the second half to drop the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, 58-36. Iowa forced six turnovers and a pair of turnovers on downs in the win.
Bender returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown, and registered 6.5 total tackles and two tackles for a loss.
With the win, the Barnstormers put themselves in the driver's seat in the United Conference playoff race. Should they win their final two games, they would finish the regular season with the best record in the Indoor football League and home field advantage in the playoffs. That would include the United Bowl should they get there. It will not be easy, though, as they face the two teams who appeared in last season's United Bowl; the Spokane Empire and the Sioux Falls Storm.
The Barnstormers are on a roll, as they have won 10 straight games -- a first in their 23-year franchise history which spans three separate leagues. The Screaming Eagles in their first season -- and possibly their last -- have won three of their last five games. They travel to Green Bay to face the Blizzard before finishing the season at home against the Empire.
Salt Lake struck first when Verlon Reed found Devin Mahina deep on a 33-yard touchdown pass. Iowa tied it and went ahead on Ryan Balentine's six-yard pass from Travis Partridge, and Keshaudas Spence's three-yard offensive fumble recovery for a score. Salt Lake added a safety near the end of the first quarter when James McElroy sacked Partridge in the end zone.
James Calhoun's 23-yard interception return put the Screaming Eagles up 15-14 early in the second quarter. It was Calhoun's fourth pick-six in the past two games. Keshaudas Spence put the Barnstormers up 20-15 with a 20-yard run. They increased that lead when Partridge ran it in from 12 yards. The Screaming Eagles pulled to within 27-21 on Mahina's six-yard pass from Reed. On the ensuing kickoff, Javicz Jones returned Salt Lake's onside kick attempt seven yards for the score. The Barnstormers found themselves up 34-21 at the intermission.
Balentine's 21-yard pass from Partridge put the Barnstormers up 41-21 to open the second half. The Screaming Eagles struck back with a 34-yard pass from Reed to Chris Robinson, but Spence's six-yard run put the Barnstormers up by 20. They increased their lead to 55-28 on Bender's 36-yard interception return.
The Screaming Eagles scored their second safety of the game when Quinton Bradley sacked Partridge in the end zone with 11:05 left in the game. Salt Lake took advantage with a 36-yard pass from Reed to Mahina. Kenton Chun put the icing on the cake for the Barnstormers with his 37-yard field goal with 4:16 left.
The Screaming Eagles outgained the Barnstormers, 268 yards to 99 yards, but they also were flagged eight times for 71 yards to the Barnstormers' six infractions for 44 yards. The key point was the turnovers, six to two in favor of the Barnstormers.
Partridge was not called upon to do any heavy lifting as he completed four of eight passes for 30 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He rushed eight times for 27 yards and a score. Spence led all rushers with 57 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns. Balentine caught three balls for 35 yards with two trips to the end zone. Jones led the Barnstormers' defensive attack with 13 total tackles, while Bryon Bennett registered a sack and Matt Goldsmith had an interception.
Aside from his five interceptions, Reed's statline looks impressive. he completed 22 of 38 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing 11 times for 30 yards. Mahina caught six passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and Chris Robinson had eight receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. Delric Ellington added three catches for 29 yards. Calhoun, who has been spectacular all season, had six total tackles and an interception. McElroy, Bradley and Seante Williams each had a sack for the Screaming Eagles.
The Screaming Eagles (4-10) will visit the Green Bay Blizzard (2-12 heading into week 16) on June 10 at 5:05 p.m. The Barnstormers (12-2) will be at home against the Spokane Empire (8-5 heading into week 16) on June 9 with a 5:05 p.m. kickoff. All times are pacific time.
Both of those games, as well as most of the leagues games this season are available for streaming on the IFL's Youtube channel.
(Graphic courtesy SCtoC)
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