SIOUX FALLS -- For the seventh time in nine years, the Sioux Falls Storm are indoor football champions, and while others have been more dominant, more impressive and more historic, perhaps none have been so satisfying.
In a year that saw the Storm spend much of the season fighting just to qualify for the playoffs and suffer some humbling losses along the way, everything came together at the end. Sioux Falls won their final six games of the season, and bested challengers that were as worthy as any they’ve faced in their decade of dominance.
Saturday night, it was the Nebraska Danger looking to send a Storm crowd home unhappy, but behind once-retired veteran quarterback Terrance Bryant, the Storm would not be denied, hanging on for a 43-40 United Bowl victory. Bryant played perhaps his best game of the season, competing 16 of 24 passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns, while the Storm defense did just enough to survive Danger quarterback Jameel Sewell, the IFL’s MVP. Sewell threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns, while running for another 80 yards and two scores. But with the game on the line in the final seconds, Nebraska chose to try a 45-yard field goal in hopes of sending the game to overtime, rather than ask Sewell to convert on 4th down and 5 yards to go, which would’ve been the second 4th-down conversion of the drive.
The kick was wide right, and the Storm had themselves a seventh championship. Bryant was named the game’s MVP, a fine reward for a player who spent more than two years in retirement.
This was a game expected to be tight and entertaining, and it lived up to the billing all the way.
The Storm clung to a 24-23 lead at half, at which point Bryant had completed 10-of-12 passes with two touchdowns, while Sewell had totaled more than 100 yards and three touchdowns passing and rushing. But an interception on the Danger’s opening series allowed the Storm to score first, stay on top as the teams traded scores, and extend their lead when they received the second-half kick. Bryant found James Terry on a deep ball on the second play of the half to put the Storm up 31-23, and a safety on the ensuing series pushed the advantage to 10.
With a 1-point rouge (after the Storm failed to advance a kickoff out of their own end zone) and a field goal, Nebraska had the lead down to 33-27 after three.
Aberdeen-area players for the Storm include: Dan O’Keefe (Aberdeen Roncalli), Cory Johnsen (Aberdeen Central) and Blake Wilson (Doland).