Barnstormers Slip past Sugar Skulls
TUCSON, Arizona - The opportunity to shock the Indoor Football presented itself to the Tucson Sugar Skulls on Saturday at the Tucson Arena. But in the end, an upset of the defending league champion Iowa Barnstormers by the expansion Sugar Skulls fell short in a 61-58 loss before a crowd of 2,775.
The Sugar Skulls scored first and led for the first 58 minutes and 52 seconds until a blocked field for a touchdown put the Barnstormers on top, 54-51. A touchdown pass on the first play of the Sugar Skulls next possession - 28 yards from Jake Medlock to Shaq Curenton - swapped the lead but left Iowa enough time to score, which it did with 7 seconds to play.
Iowa quarterback Daquan Neal led a 34-point fourth quarter to rally the Barnstormers. He threw five touchdown passes in the game and rushed for another two, including the winning score on a five-yard scramble. He was 19-of-26 passing for 265 yards.
The Sugar Skulls led most of the way with a balanced offensive attack finishing the game with over 100 yards through the air and on ground. Medlock was an efficient 15-of-19 passing for 157 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for two touchdowns. Running back Mike Jones topped 100 yards rushing for the first time this season, getting 109 yards on 21 carries. He scored three touchdowns, giving him 16 on the season.
The Sugar Skulls jumped to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, stopping the Barnstormers on their first possession and holding them to a field goal the second time they had the ball.
The teams essentially traded scores in the second quarter, and the Sugar Skulls headed to the locker room at halftime still holding a 31-20 lead after kicker Josh Gable nailed a 45-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
The fourth-quarter blocked field goal for a touchdown on a 46-yard attempt was the third time this season that the Sugar Skulls field goal team allowed a block for a score.
Head Coach Marcus Coleman said those types of mistakes are the ones the Sugar Skulls have to eliminate to win the close games that they haven't been able to win this season. In their current four-game losing streak, the Sugar Skulls have now lost games by 14, 6 and 3. Two of those games had a blocked field goal for a touchdown.
"We're still quite not there. We still haven't matured enough to understand you can't make those mistakes, especially against good teams," Coleman said. "We need to figure out how to fix those mistakes and how to clean those things up."
Despite the losing skid, the Sugar Skulls remain firmly in the playoff hunt, a half-game behind Quad City for the sixth playoff spot. The Skulls look to end their losing streak at home next Saturday against the San Diego Strike Force, a team they have already defeated twice this season, once at home and once on the road.
NOTES & NUMBERS
- Cureton led the team with seven receptions and 130 yards. He caught all three of Medlock's touchdown passes. Curenton leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
- Jones' 16 total touchdowns lead the team. He also is the team's leading rusher with 430 yards.
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Indoor Football League Stories from April 28, 2019
- Barnstormers Slip past Sugar Skulls - Tucson Sugar Skulls
- Rattlers Cruise Past the Storm; 63-50 - Arizona Rattlers
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