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Having met three times earlier during the 2005 campaign, the Sioux Falls Storm and the Sioux City Bandits were no strangers to each other. Each of the contestes had been decided by less than a touchdown. This Time, the I-29 rivals would battle in the inaugural UIF Championship game, known as United Bowl I.
The festivities started with a fleet of more than 10 buses that caravanned from Sioux Falls with more than a thousand Sioux Falls fans to see their team take on the Bandits in UBI. A sea of red exited the doors of each bus as the fans had a pre-game celebration beforehand in the parking lot with beverages, food, football and fun. Just across the way was more of the same with black Bandit jerseys and T-shirts walking in every which direction waiting in anticipation for the game to begin. When the doors opened, fans representing both cities passed through the turnstiles of the new Tyson Events Center. Approximately 7,000 Storm and Bandits fans would be in attendance.
The pre-game activities included an amazing celebration of lights and music as the owners, coaches and players from each team were announced. The teams' respective fans cheered so loud that some had to cover their ears. Cars and Harley-Davidson motorcycles also welcomed each team on the field. From the start, all in attendance could sense that this game would be a battle for the ages.
Both teams came out firing the ball and laying big hit after big hit. The teams traded field goals on their opening possessions before Sioux Falls' James Jones caught a two-yard pass from Terrance Bryant to give the Storm the 9-3 lead with 6:20 remaining in the quarter. Sioux City would respond as Jarrod DeGeorgia threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Ken Horton. With just over one minute left in the first quarter, Bryant ran in from 15 yards out to give the Storm to put them on top 16-10 going into the second quarter.
Sioux City opened the second quarter with a 22-yard touchdown run by league MVP Fred Jackson which gave hometown Bandits a 17-16 lead. Bryant and Jones hooked up again, this time on an eight-yard pass to give the Storm a 23-17 advantage. The rest of the first half belonged to DeGeorgia. The former Wayne State College Wildcat hooked up with Horton on a 16-yard touchdown pass to give Sioux City a 24-23 edge. Following a Sioux Falls drive that ended on downs, the Bandits got the ball back with 2:24 remaining in the half. On the final play of the half, Jackson threw a 5-yard pass to DeGeorgia to give Sioux City a 31-23 halftime lead.
Jackson added another score on a 30-yard run on the first play after the second half kickoff. With the touchdown, the Bandits now led 38-23. With 9:18 remaining in the quarter, Bryant, the former Oregon State Beaver, rushed in from a yard out to bring Sioux Falls within eight, 38-30. Following a Sioux City fumble, Bryant connected with Casey Veenhof on a 12-yard touchdown pass to cut the Bandits' lead to just one at 38-37.
With 8:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, Sioux Falls' Austin Flyger recovered a Jackson fumble. With that, the Storm had the ball and looked to put some points on the board. However, Adam Hicks missed a 57-yard field goal, which gave the ball back to the Bandits. Sioux City's kicker, Cody Butler, missed a 37-yard field goal, with 1:19 remaining and the score still 38-37 with the Bandits on top.
The Storm marched down the field and took the lead back with a 35-yard field goal thanks to Hicks with three seconds remaining. The lead for Sioux Falls was their first since the second quarter. After receiving the ball back, Butler tried a 61-yard field goal that fell short. The miss gave the Storm their first win over the Bandits on the season and more important, the United Bowl championship.
Hicks was awarded MVP honors for his efforts having gone four-of-four on PAT's and two-of-three on field goals, including the game-winning 35-yarder. Bryant led the offense by connecting on 17 of 25 passes for 123 yards and the three touchdown passes. He also rushed nine times for 66 yards and two touchdowns. James Jones led the Storm receivers with 60 yards on eight receptions and his two touchdowns. The Storm defense was led by Tony Hermes and Trice Crump who led the way with eight tackles each. Mike Lawson also chipped in six tackles, a sack and forced and recovered a fumble.
Jackson led the Bandits with 168 yards coming on 28 carries and scoring two touchdowns; he also threw one to DeGeorgia. Horton did his part with a team-high three receptions for 60 yards and also scored two touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Adam Lloyd finished with a game-high 10 tackles; he also contributed a pass break-up.