Bemidji, MN - The Bemidji Axemen fell to 1-1 on the season after losing their second game of the season, 43-19, to the Nebraska Danger in Grand Island, NE. Without their two leading receivers, Ryan Balentine and DeJay Lester, the Axemen struggled offensively, finding the end zone three times throughout the night.
“Nebraska is one of the most talented teams I’ve seen in indoor football and one of the pre season favorites to play for the championship,” Axemen head coach Robert Fuller said. ”Grand Island is also a very difficult venue to play in and it lived up to its billing. We had to play to fairly mistake free football in order to have success against them and we didn’t do that.”
The Axemen fired out of the gates as quarterback Hunter Wanket found receiver Maurice “Moe” Patterson in the back of the endzone for a touchdown on the team’s first series of the game. The Danger put the next five scores on the board, increasing their lead to 27-7 before Axemen defensive back De’Markus Washington took a 48-yard kickoff back for a touchdown.
Nebraska Danger linebacker Cornelius “Pig” Brown sacked Wanket in the end zone for a safety and RB Troy Evans scampered 25 yards for another Nebraska score before Axemen running back Warren Matthews scored his second touchdown of the season on a six-yard rush.
“Our guys kept it close for awhile but giving up a safety late in the 3rd quarter was a turning point that we couldn’t overcome,” Fuller stated. ”We missed our share of opportunities on offense but our defense kept us in it for a long time and they played hard through the injuries.”
Wanket led the team on the ground, rushing twice for 44 yards while Matthews tallied nine carries for 19 yards and one touchdown.
“We gained some valuable experience against one of the elite teams in the IFL and we now know the level we need to be at in order to compete week in and week out in this league,” reflected Fuller.
Running back DeMario Pippen led the Axemen air attack, recording five catches for 44 yards. Matthews caught the ball four times for 18 yards while Patterson and wide receiver Phil Browder each had one catch for seven yards.
Defensively, the Axemen were led by defensive back Maurice Rolle, who recorded nine tackles and one tackle-for-loss. Linebacker Jory Johnson and defensive end Caesar Rodriguez each recorded one sack while defensive backs Tim Dandridge and Adam Lucas each broke up one pass.
The Axemen are off this week with their first bye week of the season. Their next game will be Saturday, March 15 against the Wyoming Cavalry on Palace Casino Field at the Sanford Center. Kickoff is slated for 7:05pm and tickets are still available at the Bob Lowth Ford Ticket Pickup window at the Sanford Center, at both Lueken’s Village Foods locations, or online at www.TicketMaster.com.