The Sioux City Bandits hosted the Bismarck Bucks Saturday night, June 10, at the Tyson Events Center in the first round of CIF playoffs. This was the fifth time these two teams have met this season. The game quickly became lopsided in the second half with a 27-point third quarter from the Bandits. The Bandits knocked the Bucks out of the playoffs with a final score of 82-43.
The Bucks received the opening kickoff and began their drive down the field. That drive was cut short due to an interception by Sioux City’s Rahn Franklin, giving the Bandits an early advantage. This turnover set up a seven-yard touchdown run by Dominique Carson to put Sioux City on the board first. Bismarck scored next: Evan Connolly kicked their only successful field goal of the game, followed by a touchdown right before the close of the first quarter.
The Bandits and the Bucks exchanged touchdowns in the second quarter. Bandits wide receiver Maurice Young opened the quarter with a four-yard touchdown run first to reclaim the lead for Sioux City. For Bismarck, Damian Ford and Jauhem Byrd-Mix each scored off passes from quarterback Josh Straughan. Frederick Bruno and Carson ran for additional second-quarter touchdowns. Late in the quarter, Bandits defensive lineman Devon Bridges knocked a Straughan pass loose that Bandits defensive back Cliff Stokes was on the receiving end of. This set the Bandits up for a last-minute touchdown. Quarterback Taylor Genuser shot a 25-yard rocket to wide receiver Jeremiah Oates with 16 seconds remaining in the half. The Bucks got the ball back and attempted a field goal right before halftime, but it was unsuccessful. Sioux City maintained their 34-24 lead and their hot streak entering halftime.
The third quarter brought a wider gap in the score, as the Bandits scored another four touchdowns. Running back Jeff Mack scored two of those touchdowns on short runs right out of the gate. Bandits defensive back Jemichael Williams picked off Straughan between the pair of Mack touchdowns. Defensive lineman Westly Johnson got on the turnover train as well when the Bandits forced a fumble while on defense. Johnson scooped up the ball and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. Byrd-Mix scored Bismarck’s only touchdown of the third quarter and Carson capped off the quarter with one more short touchdown run, bringing the score to 61-31.
The Bandits’ defense ruled the fourth and final quarter of the game. Linebacker Marlon Lobban and defensive lineman Marcus Miles both found the end zone on offense in a surprising turn. For the Bucks, Ford scored both fourth-quarter touchdowns on 16-yard and 31-yard passes from Straughan, respectively.
Genuser went 10/14 on completions for 180 yards and two touchdowns (Oates, Miles) with one interception. Straughan was 17/26 with four touchdown passes, 187 yards and two interceptions.
“It definitely felt good to beat [Bismarck],” Genuser said. “They are a solid team and have explosive players, so I was very happy to defend our home field and put up as many points as we did. Saturday was the definition of a team win.”
With their triumphant victory over the Bucks, the Bandits will host the Omaha Beef at home this Saturday, June 17, at 7:05 for the Northern Conference title. Whichever team wins that game will advance to the CIF championship game the following week.