It was the Fredrick Bruno Show Saturday night at the Tyson Events Center.
Bruno scored on runs of 11, five, eight and two yards in the first half as the Sioux City Bandits raced to a 35-13 lead. A long-time fan favorite, Bruno finished with 93 yards and five touchdowns on the ground during a 77-37 Champions Indoor Football win over the Bismarck Bucks.
Bruno has been utilized in several areas on offense and special teams since his collegiate playing days at Wayne State. Heading into his seventh season, he was the Bandits’ career leader in four special teams categories – punt return yardage, punt return touchdowns, kick return yardage and kick return touchdowns.
Bruno hasn’t had many nights of big rushing yardage like Saturday as Coach Erv Strohbeen’s squad improved to 2-0 on the season. Bruno averaged 7.1 yards per carry in the first half and capped off his night with his longest touchdown run of the night, a 29-yarder with 7:36 remaining in the game.
“He really opened up everything on our offense,” said Strohbeen. “The passing game, the dives, everything. It all kind of revolved around all of those end-around runs that he was doing. He had a great night. They couldn’t stop him. He had a highlight reel kind of night. There were guys blocking for him.
“This is a new team. I’m sure (Bismarck) studied film on us. Most teams key for (Bruno). They started to. In the third quarter, they tried to take him away. Then it opened up for him again in the fourth quarter. Credit the guys that are blocking for him and fighting through.”
Sioux City scored on four of its first five possessions while leading from start to finish. Quarterback Taylor Genuser fired the first of his two touchdown passes, a 7-yarder to Anthony Eboreime to complete a seven-play, 35-yard drive.
Sioux City’s defense pitched a shutout in the first quarter. The front line of Devin Groenhagen, Devon Bridges and Marvin Newkirk was active on the pass rush while defensive backs, Rahn Franklin (who like Bruno has played since 2011), Cliff Stokes and Jemichael Williams were also active preventing Bismarck quarterback Johnathan Bane from connecting in the end zone until Elby Pope’s 27-yard catch, 26 seconds before halftime to pull the visitors within 28-13.
Sioux City did have one touchdown set up by its defense later in the game. Williams’ 14-yard interception return to the Bismarck 14-yard line was followed by a creative Bandits’ touchdown as Bruno, running the jet sweep that’s been in effect since his time, handed off on a reverse to Maurice Young, whose 14-yard run was part of a 35-point fourth quarter.
Dominique Carson and Jeffrey Mack each scored two touchdowns for the Bandits. Fourth-quarter action saw Carson rush for a 1-yard touchdown and with 59 seconds left in the game, he recorded his second kickoff return touchdown of the season, a 41-yarder.
Mack had a 1-yard scoring run in the third quarter and then caught Genuser’s fourth touchdown of the season in the fourth frame, an 11-yarder.
DeWayne Autrey II topped the Bandits’ defense with 14 tackles. Stokes added eight tackles for the Bandits, which will have a bye this week before returning to Bismarck on Friday, March 17.
“Offensively, we struggled a little in the third quarter, but I told the guys, we came out strong in the fourth quarter and finished that ballgame off,” said Strohbeen. “I’m very proud of the guys, offensively and defensively. We struggled a little with the kicking game, but Dominique popped one off in the end.”
Sioux City 77, Bismarck 37
SCB: Anthony Eboreime 7 pass from Taylor Genuser (Greg Conry kick) 11:36
SCB: Frederick Bruno 11 run (Conry kick) 3:12
SCB: Bruno 5 run (Conry kick) 8:20
BIS: Jawan Jamison 13 run (kick failed) 7:07
SCB: Bruno 8 run (Conry kick) 6:10
BIS: Elby Pope 27 pass from Johnathan Bane (Andrew Nelson kick) :26
SCB: Bruno 2 run (Conry kick) :04
BIS: Tyler Lloyd 1 run (run failed) 7:31
SCB: Jeffrey Mack 1 run (Conry kick) 3:54
BIS: Lance Lewis 10 run (run failed) 0:00
SCB: Mack 12 pass from Genuser (Conry kick) 13:38
SCB: Bruno 29 run (Conry kick) 7:36
SCB: Maurice Young 13 run (Conry kick) 6:45
BIS: Jauhem Byrd-Mix 17 pass from Bane (pass failed) 5:30
SCB: Dominique Carson 1 run (Conry kick) 4:24
BIS: Josh Jarboe 4 pass from Bane (run failed) 1:10