Wild secure playoff berth, beat Bloomington 39-38

The Wichita Wild of the Indoor Football League (IFL) continued their hot streak with an impressive 39-38 win over the Bloomington Edge (9-4). Wichita has won 5 games in a row and 7 of their last 8 and continue to be the hottest team in the IFL. Wichita is continuing their playoff push and now have a secure foothold on third place in the Intense Conference at 7-5, and have officially clinched playoff berth.


With neither team matching their season average of points per game, defense and special teams were the main focus of this matchup. Week 14s Defensive Player of the Week, Kendrick Harper helped shut down the IFL's third rated quarterback in yards per game with 2 interceptions; one returned for a touchdown. James Chandler converted 4 of 5 field goals, out dueling Pete Christofilakos as he missed a late field goal with just 4 seconds left that would have sealed the victory for the Edge.


In the first quarter, both teams couldn’t find their offensive flow resulting in a low scoring quarter. It only took Wichita three plays to find the end zone as Staback went 2-2 on the drive capping it off with a 17 yard pass to Tim Simmons putting Wichita up 7-0. Wichita defense shut down the Bloomington offense resulting in them missing a 48 yard field goal by Christofilakos. Wichita's next drive started off promising after Staback hit Tywon Hubbard with a 28 yard pass, but the Edge defense stopped the drive. Chandler made a 45 yard field goal to put Wichita up 10-0. Hoping to put some points on the board, Edge offense was stopped thanks to an interception by Scooter Rogers on the Wild goal line. Wichita couldn't take advantage of the turnover as Bloomington once again put Staback under heavy pressure, but managed a 47 yard field goal by Chandler: Wichita 13 Bloomington 0. Bloomington's offense finally started clicking and just over a minute, Bloomington's quarter back Dusty Burk hooked up with Daron Clark for a 27 yard touchdown pass cutting the Wild lead 13-7. At the end of the first quarter Wichita Quarterback Phil Staback threw for 77 yards while Bloomington's aerial threat was held to only 40 yards.


Wichita's offensive threat marred themselves with two interceptions and this gave Burk the opportunity to get his game going by attacking the Wild defense aerially. Wichita started the second quarter off with the ball, but their drive was stopped in result of an interception by James Temple. Edge running back Andre Raymond got the bulk of the offense on the ground, but the Wild defense stood tall and stopped Raymond on 4thand goal. Hubbard started off the Wild drive with a wonderful 20 yard run giving them terrific field position. Two plays later, Marcus Jackson steps in as quarterback throwing an interception. Opposite of what Wichita would hope happen, Burk got hot with his passing game, completing two long passes with the second going to Charles Dowdell for a 22 yard touchdown giving Bloomington their first lead of the game at 14-13.  Staback stepped back in as quarterback on the Wild's next drive, but was sacked from his blindside on 4thand 1. Bloomington jumped all over the opportunity to put points on the board. Burk marched his team down the field with just 26 seconds left in the second quarter. Burk stayed hot and completed a 16 yard pass to John Cooper padding the Bloomington lead 21-13. Wichita got the ball back with just 6 seconds left on the clock and managed to convert a 37 yard field goal by Chandler cutting the Bloomington lead to 21-16 ending the first half of play.


Much like most of the game, the third quarter didn’t see much offense. Bloomington’s Dowdell scored his second receiving touchdown, putting Bloomington up 28-16 on their first drive. Upon receiving the ball, Jackson couldn't jolt the Wild offense in gear and Chandler missed a 30 yard field goal.  Kendrick Harper, proving his worth as Week 14 IFL Defensive Player of the Week, picked off Burk after a deflected pass and returned it for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 28-23 Bloomington.  Burk returned to his passing prowess after the interception, but couldn’t find the end zone.  Christofilakos was called upon and made a 23 yard field goal with just 4 seconds left in the quarter: Bloomington 31-23.


On the first play of the 4th quarter, Jackson scampered for 15 yards setting up 6’2” 365 pound defensive lineman Callahan Bright to cap off the drive: 31-30 Bloomington.  Harper once again flexed his muscles and picked off Burk.  Wild offense couldn’t muster much, but Chandler once again was clutch and nailed a 45 yard field goal giving Wichita a 33-31 lead.  This was Chandler’s fourth field goal of the night.  Burk drove his team down the field and found Cooper in the end zone putting Bloomington back on top 38-33 with just 2:29 left to play.  With 41 seconds remaining in the game, Jackson found Simmons for an 11 yard touchdown pass.  Wichita failed on a 2-point conversion.  39-38 Wichita.  Wichita defense forced Bloomington into a 41 yard field goal attempt with just 4 seconds left in the game.  Christofilakos missed the field goal.  Final score: Wichita 39 Bloomington 38.


Wichita was outgained in total yards 274 to 193.  Burk threw for 220 yards and 5 touchdowns, but had 3 costly interceptions.  Tywon Hubbard was not in his normal spectacular form and did not see the end zone once this game, but did have 40 yards rushing and 34 yards receiving.  Tim Simmons caught 4 balls for 49 yards and 2 touchdowns with this final touchdown being the game decider, Simmons second game winning touchdown in the last three games.  Bloomington receivers were highlighted by Cooper who caught 6 passes for 8 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Rogers also contributed to the Wild defense with one of his own interceptions of Burk.


Depending on the outcome of the final two road games, Wichita may secure a home playoff game.  Wichita will hit the road next week to face the New Mexico Stars on Saturday, June 9th followed by a trip to Green Bay to take on the Blizzard on Saturday, June 16th in their final game of the 2012 season.