Updated: It is possible, even being a third-year team, to have a “first” and it happened to the Oklahoma Defenders on Saturday night. The Defenders faced the brand new Dodge City Law as they hosted their very first home game in the United Wireless Arena on Saturday night.
Both teams were coming off huge first week wins with the Defenders obliterated the Kansas Koyotes 72-6 and the Law defeated the Omaha Beef 61-35.
It was truly a game of two halves, with Dodge City controlling the first two quarters and the Defenders controlling the second two. It wasn’t the total domination that the Defenders showed against Kansas last week, but it showed the resilience that head coach Derek Rasmussen was looking for when he assemble the team over the off season.
The Defenders had a very slow first half points wise, but big defensive plays…such as Delaney Dobard picking off Law quarterback twice in the first quarter kept the score manageable at halftime at 23-18 Dodge City. Defenders quarterback Zach Rasmussen also managed to find Hubert Anyiam and Patrick “Packy” Jones for touchdowns in the first half.
The Rasmussen-Anyiam combination paid off again at three minute mark of the third quarter as Rasmussen found the former OSU Cowboy on a 17-yard pass to give the Defenders their first lead of the game. Rasmussen would gallop in for a six-yard on a keeper later in the quarter as both team scored a pair of touchdowns in the third frame, but the home team still held the slight advantage at 32-30.
The final 15:00 were all Oklahoma Defenders. Kingjack Washington gave the Defenders the lead again early on in the third quarter when he ran in for a two-yard touchdown. Dodge City scored on their ensuing possession, but the Defenders defense blocked the PAT attempt and Delaney Dobard ran the recovered ball down and into the Law end zone for two points. The Rasmussen-Anyiam connection happened again when Rasmussen fired a 15-yard strike to Anyiam with 9:11 remaining in the game to give the visitors a 47-43 advantage.
Dodge City scored their final touchdown with 7:51 remaining in the game on a 28-yard rush by DD Holyfield to give them a brief 49-47 edge, but that was it for the Law.
From there it was all OKD. Isaiah Anderson returned the kickoff from that score coast-to-coast for a touchdown, then after Niko Wright recovered a Dodge City fumble with 2:30 remaining in the game Rasmussen found his favorite target, Hubert Anyiam for a nine-yard touchdown giving the Defenders a 60-49 cushion. After a defensive stop by Dodge City the resulted in a missed Tommy Frevert field goal attempt, Ki’Ounta Cathey sacked Law QB McCullum in the end zone for a safety.
When the final gun went off the Defenders had a 56-49 win under their belts, and a 2-0 record for the first time in team history. It has been said several times in football that games are won in the fourth quarter, which was indeed the case for the Defenders as they buckled down tight and pulled themselves through.
Zach Rasmussen completed 19 passes on 29 attempts with no interceptions and Hubert Anyiam hauled in six passes for 79 yards and four touchdowns. Kingjack Washington lead the Defenders ground assault with 45 yards on 13 carries and a key touchdown in the third quarter. Isaiah Anderson led all rushers with 130 all-purpose yards.
Defensively Ronnell Lewis led both teams with 11.5 tackles, including 5 solo stops and Niko Wright and Delaney Dobard recovered both Dodge City turnovers. Significant on the visitors side is that the Oklahoma Defenders committed no turnovers for the second week in a row.
All in all, it was an excellent contest for the Defenders and a historic one as it pushed them to a 2-0 record for the first time in team history dating back to 2012.
The Defenders return home next weekend for a 3:05pm matinee with the 2013 CPIFL defending champion Wichita Wild in the Cox Business Center.