The Sioux Falls Storm returned to the Storm Shelter at the Sioux Falls Arena after being away for two weeks and notching wins against Oklahoma City and Nebraska, improving their record to 8-0. Unfortunately the Storm lost a key member of their receiving core when Lorenzo Brown had season-ending surgery to repair a fractured foot. Dusty Hovorka also is being called a “week-to-week” decision also due to a fractured foot. The Bloomington Extreme came into the game with a 7-2 record overall and looking to avenge a championship game loss at the hands of the Storm.
The Extreme struck first on a 51 yard field goal by Pete Christofilakos on the first series from scrimmage. Then they picked off a Chris Dixon pass, but were unable to score as Rachman Crable blocked a field goal attempt by Christofilakos. After the block, on a short drive Dixon hit Carl Sims for a 15 yard touchdown. This was Dixon’s 45th touchdown pass of the season. The defense then stepped up for the Storm as Jovan Jackson picked one out of mid-air and returned it 27 yards to set the Storm up for short field position to end the first quarter.
The second quarter started off quickly for the Storm as Dixon took it into the end zone himself from 15 yards out to make it 14-3 in favor of the Storm. Rocky Hinds for the Extreme then sent a pass to Johnny Gray. Christofilakos then had the extra point blocked by Cory Johnsen and returned 50 yards for a two-point conversion for the Storm. After a 5 yard holding penalty on the Storm during the return, the next play James Terry ran 44 yards to hit pay dirt and make the score 23-9 in favor of the Storm.
After a controversial roughing the kicker call against the Storm which gave the Extreme an automatic first down, Hinds quickly struck on an 8 yard pass to Gray to make it 23-15. Then James Jones took the kickoff back 27 yards and Dixon then hit Eric Ware leaping over the boards to quickly score another touchdown. Parker Douglass converted the extra point and then hit a bouncing ball on the kickoff which caused the Extreme to muff the return. The Storm quickly converged on Tim Blackwell and tackled him in the end zone. An illegal block in the back against the Extreme turned the rare “Rouge”, 1 point on a kickoff, into a safety for the Storm to make the score 32-16.
Terry then returned the ensuing kickoff to the 15 yard line to give the Storm offense time to work with two timeouts in their back pocket. But as they marched down the field, they were stopped just short of scoring at the last second, ending the half with a score of 32-16.
During halftime, the Storm retired the jerseys of former greats Adam Hicks and Shannon Poppinga. They joined an elite group of former Storm players in the honor of having their number retired. When asked if he would ever make a comeback to football as a coach or an assistant coach, Hicks said “Absolutely not, I love my life now and I don’t miss the road trips at all.”
When asked about the highlight of his career, Poppinga said “Being able to win four straight championships in a row. We all trusted in each other and we were all level headed.”
After the emotional ceremony, the third quarter started off quickly for the Storm with two quick scores to make the score at the end of the 3rd 46-22 in favor of the Storm.
Dixon then came alive once again in the 4th quarter, hitting Sims for a 16 yard pass. After the extra point by Douglass, the Extreme were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for running into Dixon several times after the play had been blown dead. The Extreme at this point were beginning to get rattled as Hinds threw two incomplete passes and then Donta Moore came up with an interception. Dixon and the powerful offense then took over at their own 7 yard line. On the drive though, Douglass missed a field goal wide to the left. Then the defense came up big again as Tyler Knight picked off a pass and returned it 18 yards for another Storm touchdown. Douglass then converted the extra point to make it a 60-22 Storm lead with 2:43 left in the game.
Bloomington then marched down the field for a basically meaningless touchdown. They then attempted a drop kick which would have been worth four points, but it was hooked badly to the right nearly taking off a fan’s head up in the party suite. This would be the end to the Extreme being down 60-28. The Storm went into the victory formation and ran out the clock to end the game.
The Storm improved to 9-0 as the Extreme dropped to 7-3 with the loss. The Storm’s next home game is on Sunday May 15th at 2:05 PM as they face the Green Bay Blizzard.