INDOOR FOOTBALL: Axemen blown out by Sioux Falls, 90-20, in home finale
BEMIDJI — The Sioux Falls Storm came to the Sanford Center Sunday and handed the Bemidji Axemen a record-setting 90-20 blowout in their final home game of the season.
Sioux Falls’ 90 points was the most the Axemen have given up in their two seasons of existence. And their 20 points scored is only the third lowest point total in team history behind a 13 point performance against the Storm and 19 against the Nebraska Danger in 2014.
“They are a really good team,” head coach Lee Patten said. “The way this season has gone and what’s happened in the last few weeks, it was kind of expected. We just tried to make sure they didn’t put up 100 against us.”
Bemidji’s eighth-straight loss started rather quickly, after the Axemen (2-10) were held to a three-and-out with negative-4 yards on the opening drive, Sioux Falls defensive lineman Cory Johnsen blocked the field goal attempt and recovered the ball for the first score of the game.
By the time the first quarter was over, the Storm (11-0) already led 35-0.
“We had so many things go against us that first half,” Patten said. “We could’ve stayed a little closer with a break or two.”
The Axemen showed some life in the second quarter when quarterback Ryan Balentine found Josh Jarboe for a one-yard touchdown pass, one of three touchdown passes for Balentine in the game.
Later in the second quarter Balentine found Derrick Foster for a one-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-12, but the Storm started back up, finishing the first half with a 56-12 lead.
Sioux Falls was led by quarterback Lorenzo Brown, who was 10-of-15 passing for 88 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 55 yards and scored four more touchdowns on the ground.
“That (dual) threat makes it really tough to defend,” Patten said. “Especially with a few guys not used to being in certain positions because of injuries. He kind of just took them apart.”
Balentine did his best to be a dual-threat quarterback by completing 11-of-29 passes for 115 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
He also ran for 27 yards while playing sick.
“He battled,” Patten said. “He wasn’t feeling good and when you have a wide receiver playing quarterback you’re in trouble to begin with.
“He did the best he could and we have to live with that, hopefully we’ll get a quarterback in here these last few games and see if we can make some things happen.”
The Axemen are bringing in Indoor Football League journeyman Efi Eyo with two weeks left in the season.
Eyo played college ball at Benedictine University in Illinois and has played for the Austin Wranglers, Wichita Wild, Muskegon Thunder and Iowa Barnstormers, among other teams, since finishing his college career in 2007.
“We have a quarterback coming in Monday, but we don’t have many practices left for the rest of the season, “ Patten said. “So hopefully he’s been playing and in shape.”
Bemidji is on the road for the final two games of the season with the first at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa, to play the Barnstormers.
The season will end the following Saturday when the Axemen visit the Cedar Rapids Titans.
“We just want to finish out,” Patten said. “The guys want to get on film and get a chance to move up. If they at least play hard someone will get a chance to see that on film. You can’t see it in the score of the game, but you can see the heart on the field.”