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INDOOR FOOTBALL: Axemen put on an offensive clinic in 92-49 rout of Wyoming

BEMIDJI -- Quarterback Hunter Wanket and the Bemidji Axemen offense put on a clinic in a 92-49 win over the Wyoming Cavalry Saturday at the Sanford Center.

With two weeks between Bemidji’s last outing when it scored just 19 points in its first loss of the season, the offense exploded for 356 yards.

“It was just one of those games where both defenses were kind of on roller skates,” Bemidji Axemen head coach Robert Fuller said. “Offensively, our guys played up to the level that we expect them to.”

The 92 points scored was the best for any IFL-team this season, crushing the next-best 77 points scored by Nebraska Saturday and falling just five short of the league-record of 97 points in a single game.

“This is the IFL, those things do happen from time to time,” Wanket said of the offensive explosion. “It was fun to come out and play at the level that we expect to play at.”

Wanket led the way by completing 13 of his 21 passes and 221 yards with nine total touchdowns.

Wyoming wasted no time jumping ahead as quarterback Sam Durley connected with wide receiver Rolan Woodland for a 37-yard score on the second play from scrimmage to grab an early 7-0 lead.

The Axemen answered quickly with a nine-yard run from Warren Matthews Jr. The extra-point was missed, so the Axemen still trailed 7-6.

The scoring play was set up on a trick play where wide receiver Ryan Balentine found DeMario Pippen for a first down.

Next, it was the defense of the Axemen stepping up as they forced a fumble and defensive back Lucas Adams scooped it up and returned it for a 21-yard score to help grab the first lead of the night at 13-7.

“To have the explosion that we have on our defense and special teams makes us very dynamic,” Wanket said. “It is a blessing to play with people like that.”

Thanks to a botched snap on a long field goal attempt, Bemidji’s next offensive possession began inside the five-yard line. It took three plays, but Pippen broke the plan with a four-yard run to increase the lead to 19-7.

Bemidji held that lead throughout the first quarter and pushed it to 22-7 thanks to a 30-yard field goal from kicker Josiah Powell early in the second quarter.

The aerial attack that the Cavalry showcased in their first possession returned in the second quarter as Durley hit Samuel Charles on a streak in the back of the end zone. Charles flipped over the boards and was slow to get up after pulling down the catch but hung on for the 30-yard score.

The Axemen quickly answered with its first touchdown through the air as Wanket hit Maurice Patterson on a slant in the middle of the endzone for six.

Again, Wyoming wasted little time to respond as Durley hooked up with Woodland for a second time, this one a 28-yard score to cut the deficit back down to ten points at 29-19 with 9:12 remaining until halftime.

Patterson and the Axemen had a touchdown erased and a pair of penalties pushed them back from the goal line to behind midfield, but Wanket showcased his deep-throw ability when he hit a sliding Philander Browder in the front corner of the endzone for a 25-yard score to increase the lead to three possessions at 36-19.

Even with the three-possession lead, Fuller and his team stayed aggressive as they called for and recovered an onside kick.

“The mindset behind that was that they were giving it to us and we wanted to give our defense a break,” Fuller explained. “It was just a matter of taking what was given to us and gaining an extra possession to keep our defense off the field.”

Wanket added two more TDs to his first half statline as he connected with Balentine and Patterson to extend the lead to 50-19 with just 20 seconds left in the half.

Charles appeared to send the Cavalry to the locker room on a high note with another circus-catch for a second touchdown, but De’Markus Washington ran back the ensuing kickoff for a 52-yard touchdown to make the halftime difference 57-27.

“Those are game-changers,” Fuller said of the kick return. “Those type of plays create the separation that is needed to pull away.”

The 57 first-half points nearly matched the Axemen’s season total of 59 points entering Saturday’s contest.

Vincent Taylor provided the first spark on the scoreboard when he returned a missed Bemidji field goal for a touchdown to cut into the deficit at 57-33.

Wanket and the Axemen answered with two more touchdowns in the quarter, one to Patterson and a 45-yard heave, the longest offensive play of the game, to Balentine to push the lead to 71-33.

“We were pleased with our first half, but we had to think of the second half as a whole different game,” Wanket said. “We really wanted to prove to ourselves that we could play at a high level and hopefully build towards something much greater down the road.”

Charles added his third receiving touchdown late in the third quarter, but Wanket answered once again. This time, he called his own number on  three consecutive possessions on quarterback sneaks to put Bemidji in front by 43 points at 92-49 with 7:26 left.  

Durley threw for 283 yards and six scores, while hooking up with Charles for four touchdowns and 142 yards.

“Our defense made some big plays, but they did not tackle very well,” Fuller said. “That will be a point of emphasis this week.”

Bemidji (2-1) will look to earn revenge for its only loss of the season, as it will host the Nebraska Danger next Friday at the Sanford Center.

“They are one of the elite teams in this league,” Fuller said of next week’s opponent. “We are going to have a great week of practice on a short week.”

“It is a really good challenge, but that is what we are here for,” Wanket said. “It should be a battle.”

Bemidji 92, Wyoming 49

Wyoming 7 20 14 8 — 49

Bemidji 19 38 14 21— 92

First Quarter

W-Woodland 37-pass from Durley. PAT - Wood kick, 13:19.

B-Matthews 9-run. PAT - Powell kick no good, 11:01.

B- Lucas 21-fumble recovery. PAT - Powell kick, 10:06.

B- Pippen 3-run. PAT - Powell kick no good, 6:14.

Second Quarter

B-Powell 30-FG kick. 13:26.

W-Charles 30-pass from Durley. PAT - Wood kick no good, 13:18.

B-Patterson 4-pass from Wanket. PAT - Powell kick, 10:01.

W-Woodland 28-pass from Durley. PAT - Wood kick no good, 9:12.

B-Browden 25-pass from Wanket. PAT - Powell kick, 6:58.

B-Balentine 29-pass from Wanket. PAT - Powell kick, 4:36.

B-Patterson 19-pass from Wanket. PAT - Powell kick, :21.

W-Charles 25-pass from Durley. 2-point conversion, :14.

B-Washington 52-kick return. PAT - Powell kick. :05.

Third Quarter

W-V. Taylor 50-returned FG attempt. 2-point conversion no good, 7:42.

B-Patterson 21-pass from Wanket. PAT - Powell kick, 5:36.

B-Balentine 45-pass from Wanket. PAT - Powell kick, 2:55.

V- Charles 6-pass from Durley. 2-point conversion, :19.

Fourth Quarter

B-Wanket 1-run. PAT - Powell kick, 13:29.

B-Wanket 1-run. PAT - Powell kick, 9:05.

W-Charles 29-pass from Durley. 2-point conversion good, 8:17.

B-Wanket 1-run. PAT - Powell kick, 7:26.