TULSA, OK— It was a battle of the unbeaten on Sunday Afternoon and the 2-0 Oklahoma Defenders hosted the 1-0 and 2013 defending Champions Professional Indoor Football League Champion Wichita Wild in the Cox Business Center.
The Defenders Came into Sunday’s game fresh off a come-from-behind 56-49 win over the Dodge City Law last Saturday and the Wild had the open date last weekend but defeated Lincoln 62-10 in week one.
In the game the first quarter was all Wichita. Quarterback Rocky Hinds connected with Jarrel Kelley twice and Chris Hemphill once to give the visitors a quick 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Defenders were stalled by a three-and-out on their first possession and an interception of Brady May pass by Wild defensive back Kiaree Daniels ended their second. The Defenders did not score their first points until 28 seconds had elapsed off the clock in the second quarter when May found Jeff Hughley on a 19-yard pass for the Defenders first touchdown. Five minutes later, after a missed 40-yard field goal attempt by Wichita kicker Ernesto Lacayo, May hit Hubert Anyiam on a 22-yard strike to cut the Wild leat to just seven points at 21-14.
Lacayo connected on a 17-yard boot to extend the Wichita lead to ten points, then Defenders kicker Tommy Frevert split the uprights from 35 yards out to cut the Wild advantage back to seven points at 24-17. The Wild and Defenders would trade touchdowns to end the half, with Wichita’s Junior Allen sprinting 37-yards in for a score and May hitting Isaiah Anderson from 21-yards out, to end the half with the Wild up 31-24.
After a relatively uneventful third quarter where the two teams would again trade scores, the Oklahoma Defenders showed the outstanding character they are getting to be known for when they managed to tie the score at 38 all when Kingjack Washington hauled in an 11-yard pass from May with 12:56 remaining on the clock.
Lacayo connected from 20 yards out, and Hinds found Brian Murph on a 7-yard pass to give Wichita a nine-point lead at 47-38. Then Brady May found Packy Jones on a 24-yard pass to cut the lead to three points at 47-44, but an attempt to tack on the extra point to cut the lead to just two points was foiled by a mishandled snap. After recovering the onside kick by the Defenders, Lacayo punched in another 20-yard field goal to seal the game for the Wild at 50-44.
While a loss is never a good thing, the character of the Oklahoma Defenders shone through as they battled the Wild for a complete game. Losing to a team that hung a pair of 60+ point drubbings last season is a phenomenal achievement give the maturity of the teams.
“We’re a young football team,” Defenders head coach Derek Rasmussen said, “They are a veteran coaching staff and a veteran team. We started a rookie quarterback tonight and he played his butt off.
“I don’t have any regrets from how this game turned out and I don’t believe in moral victories. We just need to put this behind us and get ready for Sioux City.” Rasmussen said.
His rookie quarterback, Brady may, was thrust into the starting role after Zach Rasmussen pulled up injured after the win in Dodge City on March 8. May threw 18 completions on 31 attempts for 202 yards and six touchdowns in the game, marred only by two interceptions.
Jeff Hughley had a great game on Sunday afternoon, notching two touchdowns and racked up 146 all-purpose yards. Packy Jones caught five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown, and Kingjack Washington rushed for 15 yards and caught the touchdown pass that tied the game early in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Defenders were led by Sam Proctor, who made eight unassisted tackles and he was followed by Ronnell Lewis, who made six stops.
The next game for the Oklahoma Defenders will be next Saturday night when they take on the Sioux City Bandits for the first time since 2012. The game will be at 7:05pm next Saturday night in the Cox Business Center.