The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles made their first trip to the Heartland Events Center Saturday night and fell to the Nebraska Danger 49-30.
The first quarter showed the defensive prowess of both teams, as there were a combined three drives for both teams. The first Salt Lake drive ended after kicker Trent Andrus missed a field goal. The Danger then cranked out a four minute drive that ended with quarterback Patrick McCain running the ball into the end zone from three yards out. McCain led both teams in rushing after the first quarter with 28 yards. The quarter ended with Salt Lake scoring a touchdown on an untimed down after a Danger penalty. After a missed point after attempt, the Danger maintained their lead 7-6.
The Danger answered right back on the first drive of the second quarter when McCain found receiver Jarred Haggins for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Then the next two drives, one for each team, ended with missed field goals. The Screaming Eagles punched in a touchdown with just over five minutes left in the half, when quarterback Verlon Reed connected with running back Rob Marshall for a 28-yard touchdown. On the ensuing drive for the Danger, Salt Lake intercepted the ball and returned it for a 39-yard touchdown giving them their first lead of the game 18-13. Nebraska was able to answer back with a touchdown of their own and headed to the locker room with the lead, 19-18.
"I thought we played well in the first half. Other than a missed field goal, we did a good job capitalizing on the opportunities that we had. And that is something we haven't done consistently this year so this was a big step in the right direction," said head coach Hurtis Chinn.
Nebraska started the third quarter with some fireworks, as McCain threw a deep pass and found Eric Thomas open for a 39-yard touchdown, extending the Danger lead to eight points, 26-18. The Nebraska defense stepped up a few plays later when Marquaveus Jackson sacked Salt Lake quarterback Reed on second down. Two plays later, the defense forced an incomplete pass on fourth down, turning the ball back over to Nebraska. McNeal wasted no time tossing another 29-yard touchdown pass, this time to Demitri Stimphil, making the score 33-18.
After driving down to the one-yard line, Salt Lake was able to get back on the board with a rushing touchdown, cutting into the Danger lead with a score of 33-24. Nebraska then when on to milk the clock for four minutes and eleven seconds to end the half. In that time though quarterback McCain continued his rushing assault on the evening, this time hammering his way for 13 yards and first down.
Nebraska began the fourth quarter with a field goal, tacking on three points to their lead, 36-24. On the next Salt Lake drive, Danger defensive back Courtney Hall picked off a Screaming Eagles pass which Nebraska converted into a touchdown just over two minutes later, again on the legs of Patrick McCain who finished the game with 69 rushing yards. Salt Lake was able to move the ball on their ensuing possession but the drive stalled out.
The Danger defense then stepped up and Eze Obiora got a sack on fourth down, turning the ball over to the Danger on downs. That sack, 3.5 at this point, tied him with Walner Leandre for the Nebraska Danger record for most sacks in a game. Nebraska again scored on a rushing touchdown from Patrick McCain, his third of the night. The Screaming Eagles, to their credit, didn't give up driving the ball to the 15-yard line before the game ended with a final score of 49-30.
"Patrick played lights out tonight but it was totally a team effort. Our defense stepped up big time in the second half and helped us put this one away," said Chinn.
The Danger will play in the Heartland Events Center next Friday against the Cedar Rapids Titans.