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INDOOR FOOTBALL: Axemen let one slip away in bizarre fashion

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Cedar Rapids kicker Rockne Belmonte missed his first chance to hand the Bemidji Axemen a heart-breaking loss, but his second try lifted the Titans to a dramatic 60-57 win Saturday.

Trailing 57-55, Belmonte had an opportunity to regain the lead in the final minute, but his 20-yard field goal hit the right upright.

Bemidji failed to run off the remaining 40 seconds on the clock and committed a safety to give Belmonte and the Titans the ball back with 15 seconds left in a tie game.

The Axemen nearly picked up a second consecutive win on the road, but instead fell to 3-4 on the season after Belmonte hit the game-winner.

Saturday’s game was the debut for quarterback Cody Kirby. He turned in a strong first performance that was highlighted by four long touchdown passes.

After throwing an interception in his first drive, Kirby connected with Nick Truesdell for a 45-yard touchdown to grab the team’s first lead over the Titans this season at 9-7.

Kirby added a pair of touchdowns, of 40 and 36 yards, to Ryan Balentine and a 47-yard connection to Maurice Patterson as he finished with 292 yards in his Bemidji debut.

A safety in the opening minutes of the game was the only thing to go right for the Axemen defense in a first half where Titans quarterback Spencer Ohm passed for five touchdowns to lead to a 42-26 halftime deficit for Bemidji.

The Axemen defense tightened up in the second half as it did not allow a touchdown in the final 27 minutes of the game.

After trailing for over two full quarters, Warren Matthews Jr. recorded an 11-yard touchdown to give Bemidji a 57-55 lead with 6:44 remaining in the game.

Matthews Jr. shouldered the running game for the Axemen as he ran for 70 yards and three touchdowns on the night.

The loss to the Titans was the first for the Axemen in four tries -- including two preseason contests.

Bemidji (3-4) will return home for the first time in over a month to host Green Bay next Friday.

Bemidji           16 10 17 14 -- 57

Cedar Rapids    21  21 7  11 -- 60

First Quarter

C - Pray 16-pass from Ohm. PAT, Belmonte kick, 12:21.

B- Team safety. 10:44.

B- Truesdell 43-pass from Kirby. PAT, Pulkinen kick, 9:36.

C- Council 1-run. PAT, Belmonte kick, 8:12.

B- Balentine 40-pass from Kirby. PAT, Pulkinen kick, 6:18.

C- Bray 27-pass from Ohm. PAT, Belmonte kick, 2:54.

Second quarter

B- Pulkinen 18-kick. 13:10.

C- Sims 31-pass from Ohm. PAT, Belmonte kick, 10:47.

B- Matthews Jr. 4-run. PAT, Pulkinen kick, 8:00.

C- Pray 25-pass from Ohm. PAT, Belmonte kick, 5:56.

C- Hayes 45-pass from Ohm. PAT, Belmonte kick, :45.

Third Quarter

B- Matthews Jr 19-run. PAT, Pulkinen kick, 12:36.

C- Brown 48-kick return. PAT Belmonte kick, 12:24.

B- Balentine 36-pass from Kirby. PAT, Pulkinen kick, 10:13.

Fourth Quarter

C- Belmonte 30-kick. 12:38.

B- Patterson 47-pass from Kirby. PAT, Pulkinen kick, 10:41.

C- Belmonte 40-kick. 8:29.

B- Matthews Jr. 11-run. PAT, Pulkinen kick, 6:44.

C- Team Safety. :15.

C- Belmonte 38-kick. :00.