United Bowl III features two familiar foes in the Lexington Horsemen and the Sioux Falls Storm. Both are perennial playoff powers. Besides this game being a rematch of last year’s championship, it’s also the third time in four years the two teams meet with a title on the line. The year they didn’t meet for a championship, they collided in the semi-finals.
Lexington finished the regular season 8-7 and qualified for the Eastern Conference playoffs as the number three seed. That meant going on the road in the first round to face the RiverCity Rage in St. Charles, MO. It was also the return of veteran indoor quarterback Eddie Eviston. He had guided Lexington to last year’s championship game and rejoined the Horsemen roster in time for the playoffs. In the 48-33 road win over the Rage, Eviston was 20-0f-26 passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He stepped up his play at home in the Eastern Conference championship against Bloomington by throwing seven touchdowns and running for one more in the 67-49 victory. Chad Spencer hauled in four of those touchdown tosses. Lexington running back Rayshawn Askew caught the last TD toss in that game—giving him 209 touchdowns for his professional career—surpassing NFL great Jerry Rice.
With Eviston providing the offensive firepower, the Horsemen defensive has clamped down on opponents. Against RiverCity, J.T. Haskins picked off Rage quarterbacks three times for 30 yards. Earven Flowers also had a 21-yard interception return and a pass breakup. In round two the Lexington defense held Bloomington scoreless for a 22-minute span. Sylvester Peoples had two sacks for 15 yards and Flowers had an interception. The big momentum swing though was just before halftime when Bloomington setup for a field goal to tie the game. Instead, Lexington would block the attempt and run it back for a touchdown. Coupled with Collin Barber’s extra point, the Horsemen went into the break with a 10-point lead.
Lexington Head Coach, Mike Zuckerman, says everybody on the Horsemen team has played at a higher level during the playoffs. “That’s what you hope for when you get to the playoffs—that people come to another level—and that’s what we’ve done right now.”
The game will be bitter-sweet for Zuckerman who previously announced his resignation from the team following the season.
Both teams sport several veterans. Sioux Falls Head Coach Kurtiss Riggs says the key to maintaining a core group of players is finding players from the area. “You build around that. You’re able to get guys that want to continue to play because it’s fun for them and then you sprinkle in some guys that buy into that work ethic. It’s been successful for us and for Lexington.”
Sioux Falls is undefeated for the second straight year and the defending UIF champions two years running. Their 37-game win streak is a record for professional sports. Being the number one seed in the Western Conference, both playoff games were at home. Both games accounted for beating opponents a fourth time during the season. In round one, they handled Colorado 44-16. Storm quarterback Terrance Bryant was 17-of-20 with three touchdowns. Defensively, the Storm held the Ice to three field goals and a fourth quarter touchdown.
Against Billings for the Western Conference championship, the Storm displayed their usual offensive prowess as Bryant completed 15-of-20 for 232 yards and two touchdowns while the defense blanked Billings in the second half to pick up a 45-23 win. Cory Johnsen had three tackles for loss for seven yards with a sack for four yards. Leif Murphy had three tackles for loss for 15 yards with two sacks for 11 yards.
UIF Executive Director & Commissioner, Dakota Crow, says United Bowl III looks to be as exciting as the first tow. “We’re looking forward to another sellout event. Lexington and Sioux Falls are no strangers to each other. It should be a great match up with two of the best indoor teams in the country.”
United Bowl II Video Webcast
Post Game Video Clips
Terrance Bryant (UBII MVP, 258 yards Passing, 8 TD’s, 1 rushing TD)
Casey Veenhof (3 TD’s, 106 yards receiving)
Head Coach Kurtiss Riggs (17-0)
Sioux Falls, SD - The Sioux Falls Storm (17-0), for the second year in a row, are the UIF United Bowl champions! The Storm end their perfect season with a 72-64 victory over the Lexington Horsemen (14-3) at the Sioux Falls Arena in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,800 screaming fans. Sioux Falls has now won 20 straight games since the 2005 playoffs. Last season the Storm defeated the Sioux City Bandits for United Bowl I. UBII’s game MVP went to Terrance Bryant, quarterback for the Sioux Falls Storm.
The game started off with a bang for the Horsemen as Chad Spencer caught a 30-yard pass from the first play of the game to put the Horsemen up a quick 6-0. The Storm answered right back with a 4-yard run by Mike Scott on the next series. The first quarter ended with the Storm on top, 21-19, and saw six touchdowns from six different players.
Just moments into the second quarter, Lexington took the lead once more after a 9-yard run by Dieonte Stewart that put the Horsemen up, 26-21. This would not last long as Casey Veenhof caught one of his three touchdowns from five yards out, to bring the Storm back on top. Minutes later, Chad Spencer (LEX) and Veenhof would trade TD’s and bring the game back to a three point ball game, 32-35, with the Storm having the advantage. With forty seconds remaining in the first half, Colin Barber nailed a 24-yard field goal to tie the game at 35. The Storm, wanting the last move, saw James Terry in the end zone for a 12-yard score from Terrance Bryant with only seven seconds left on the clock. The Storm would go into the half with a 42-35 lead and receive the ball in the start of the third quarter. The first half saw an amazing eleven touchdowns and one field goal for one of the highest scoring halves in UIF history. Terrance Bryant threw for five touchdowns alone in the first two quarters.
The third quarter saw no let down of offense, as Bryant rushed in a one yard TD in the first two minutes of the third, to bring the Storm’s lead to fourteen. Eddie Eviston would answer right back with a 22-yard bullet to Chad Spencer and bring the Horsemen back to within 7, 42-49. Veenhof, once again had an answer for Spencer, as he caught a 13-yard line drive from Terrance Bryant for the Storm. Going into the fourth quarter, the Storm had the lead, 55-45.
Minutes into the fourth quarter, Eddie Eviston got caught with his head on a swivel and threw the ball away in the end zone, resulting in a Storm safety, to add to Sioux Falls’ lead, 57-45. The Storm’s next possession gave them their biggest lead of the game as James Terry caught a ten yard pass for one of his three touchdowns, giving Sioux Falls a 64-51 cushion. The Horsemen would not give up and outscored Sioux Falls 13-8 in the final seven minutes of the game, but it was too little too late as the Storm went on to capture their second crown in a row, 72-64.
Leading the way for Sioux Falls was UBII game MVP and UIF 2006 MVP, Terrance Bryant. Bryant threw for 258 yards and a new UIF record, 8 passing touchdowns. He connected on 20 of 25 passes and also had 33 yards rushing and one touchdown. Terrance had no interceptions during the contest. On his receiving core was the trio of Casey Veenhof, James Terry and Matt Holmlund. Veenhof had 106 yards receiving and three touchdowns from 8 receptions leading the receivers. Terry added 77 yards and three TD’s and Holmlund caught five passes for 75 yards and 2 scores. On the ground, Mike Scott filled in for the injured Marques Smith, and had 48 yards rushing and one TD. Defensively, Mark Blackburn led all players with 9.5 tackles (8 solo, 3 assisted) and three pass break-ups. Trice Crump had seven tackles and Andre Fields chipped in with 5.
For Lexington, Eddie Eviston threw for 164 yards from 15 of 25 pass attempts and hit the end zone six times. He also led the Horsemen in rushing with 85 yards and one score. Taking the bulk of his passes was UIF 1st Team All-Star, Chad Spencer. Spencer caught nine passes for 123 yards and five touchdowns. Leading their defensive core was Muhamm Abdullah with 7.5 tackles. Sylvester Peoples had 6.5 and Champ Kelly added 5.5.
Be sure to check back to unitedindoorfootball.com throughout the rest of the weekend for more updates, photos, highlights and stats from this monumental game, United Bowl II!