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Capitols Continue Road Swing with visit to Wyoming

May 17, 2002 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL) - Lincoln Capitols News Release

The Lincoln Capitols play the middle game of their season-long three game road swing Saturday night when they face the Wyoming Cavalry. The Capitols reached the halfway point of the regular season last weekend, but a last-ditch effort to tie Sioux Falls in the final minute fell short. Lincoln fell to 4-3 as the Storm claimed the 41-33 victory at the Sioux Falls Arena. Sioux Falls forced three Capitol turnovers, the third coming with 30-seconds remaining and the Capitols driving inside the Storm 10-yard line.

The loss overshadowed the Capitols season-best offensive output (221 yards) and quarterback Josh Luedtke’s 162 yard night throwing the football. Wide receiver Damon Benning suffered an ankle injury late in the first half, yet overcame the injury to haul in five passes for 45 yards. Running back Rayshawn Askew gained 47 yards rushing and added six receptions for 35 yards.

With the loss, the Capitols fell a game back of Sioux City in the division, suffering their second divisional loss a week after dealing the Bandits a decision at the Pershing Center. The Capitols will be bidding to win their first road game since opening the season with a victory at LaCrosse.

Wyoming captured its first win of the season last weekend, holding off a LaCrosse comeback in the fourth quarter to take a 51-49 decision. Trey Ransom’s 19-yard field goal with 1:36 to play put the Cavalry ahead 51-34, but the Night Train scored twice in the next 45-seconds to close to within two.

The Cavalry won the contest despite managing only 109 yards of offense on the night, but took advantage of 3 LaCrosse fumbles. Quarterback Matt Strand struggled to a 5-for-16 night for 81 yards with one interception.

Wyoming’s struggles are evident in the fact that they rank near the bottom of the league statistics in points allowed per game (48), yards allowed per game (263.6) and passing yards allowed per game (185).

Receiver Cory Brooks leads the offense, having made 37 catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns in six games. Defensive back Greg Ortberg ranks among the league leaders with three interceptions in eight games, and has returned two for touchdowns. Ortberg also has one of three kickoff returns for a touchdown by the Cavalry this season. Defensive lineman Fou Mamea leads the NIFL with three fumbles forced.

Benning Poses Problems for Opponents

Former Nebraska running back Damon Benning leads the NIFL in all purpose yards, averaging nearly 151 yards a game. Benning’s totals received a boost over the past few weeks as he regained his form after suffering an injury in week two and missed the Capitols game with Austin in week three. He had a string of back-to-back weeks with over 100 yards on kickoff returns snapped in Saturday’s loss, returning only four kicks for 86 yards, mostly in the first half. An ankle injury limited Benning in the second half and forced him to sit out the initial Capitol drive after halftime.

The injury didn’t snap a string of touchdowns for Benning, who has caught one pass for a score in every game since the season opener. He has matched his five touchdowns as a receiver with five rushing scores and one kickoff return for a touchdown.

The Capitols are donating $50 to Pacific Pals for every touchdown Benning scores this season, putting the season total at $550. Benning is the executive director of the charity that helps children in both Lincoln and Omaha, giving them opportunities to learn about the arts and take part in sports camps.

Kicker Long Aptly Named

Lincoln kicker Chace Long leads the NIFL in field goals made and attempted and PATs made and attempted this season. The former Nebraska kickoff specialist has converted on 19-of-29 field goals attempted, including an NIFL-record 60-yarder against the Omaha Beef. Long has hit all but three of his PAT kicks this season, a 91.4-percent clip.

Long has nailed seven of the last nine field goals he has attempted, but had his run of perfection inside of 30-yards come to an end last weekend when he missed a 25-yarder at Sioux Falls. Long converted on four other attempts, including a 38-yarder to bring the Capitols to within three points of the Storm at the half.

Askew the Model of Consistency Running back Rayshawn Askew continues to rack up the yards, both rushing and receiving, giving the Capitols another big offensive threat. Askew has scored at least one touchdown in every game this season, two in each of the last two games for Lincoln and is tied with Benning for the team lead with 11 touchdowns. Askew, Benning and Long are all among the NIFL leaders in scoring, as the Capitols are the only team with more than two players ranked among the top ten.

Askew was a key focal point for the Sioux Falls defense last Saturday night, yet managed 47 yards rushing and another 35 receiving to help the Capitols attack. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native is averaging over four yards a carry for the Capitols and rushed for a season high 105 yards against Austin in week three. Askew currently ranks third in the league, having rushed for 407 yards through seven games.

Capitol Defense Punishing Quarterbacks The Capitols rank fourth in the NIFL, having racked up 10 sacks through seven games. Nose guard Steve Luedkte and defensive end Trent Toline are pacing the Capitols, each with four sacks. Linebacker Darrell Jack, the team’s leading tackler with 62 stops this season, has three sacks.

Jack and defensive back Travis Kopf rank in the top ten in the league in tackles (Jack 5th, Kopf 7th with 56). Kopf tied the league-best mark for the season with 20 tackles in the Capitols win over Sioux City two weeks ago.

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