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INDOOR FOOTBALL: Turnovers doom Axemen in 38-26 loss to Iowa

Bemidji Axemen quarterback EJ White (14) finds a hole in the Iowa defense during the first quarter of their game Monday at the Sanford Center. The Barnstormers won 38-26. Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 3
Bemidji Axemen wide receiver Ryan Balentine makes a catch and is tackled by Iowa Barnstormers defenseman Torez Jones during the first half of Monday night's game at the Sanford Center. Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 3
Bemidji Axemen quarterback EJ White drops back to pass in the first half of their game against the Iowa Barnstormers on Monday night at the Sanford Center. Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer3 / 3

BEMIDJI — Offense typically rules the Indoor Football League, but on Monday night at the Sanford Center, it was the defense of the Iowa Barnstormers that dominated and kept the Bemidji Axemen out of the win column.

The Axemen (0-2) jumped out to a 13-2 lead but the Barnstormers (1-1) caused six turnovers the rest of the way and beat the Axemen 38-26 during their game at the Sanford Center.

After Bemidji’s 13-2 second-quarter lead, Iowa outscored the Axemen 35-13 the rest of the way.

“We have to play a little more calm and relaxed,” said Axemen quarterback E.J. White, who was intercepted three times. “We had the game in our hands in the first half. I just have to come out and execute better next time.”

White was put into the starting role after Terrance Owens was ruled out with a lower-back injury.

He started strong as he went into the halftime completing 10-of-17 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns and a 20-15 lead.

White finished the game 13-of-28 for 129 yards passing and 49 yards rushing with a touchdown.

“He’s young and it’s his first time playing this game,” Axemen head coach Dixie Wooten said. “I feel like he did some good things, and we have to correct the bad and let him learn from it.”

The Bemidji defense was able to make some stops with a goal line stand in the first quarter and a couple second half turnovers, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with Iowa quarterback Robbie Nallenweg.

The Barnstormers quarterback was 20-for-32 for 196 yards and five touchdowns along with one interception.

Brady Roland was on the receiving end of three of the touchdown passes, as he caught five for 105 yards.

“I think we improved from the Sioux Falls game and made some stops there in the first half,” said Axemen linebacker Jory Johnson, who had an interception in the game. “It was just small things like penalties.”

When the Axemen weren’t making plays, they were committing penalties. They were penalized 14 times for 102 yards.

Iowa had its fair share of penalties as well with 10 for 81 yards, but Wooten said his team’s were more costly.

“The thing about their penalties, they weren’t on third or fourth down like ours,” Wooten said. “When you get penalties on third and fourth down, that kills you on defense.”

Bemidji will need to have a short memory as it will return to the Sanford Center to play Billings at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

The Wolves are coming off a loss on Sunday to Cedar Rapids, so they too had a quick turnaround.

“We’re 0-2 right now,” White said. “It’s not where we expected to be, but it’s where we are and the only thing worse is 0-3 and we can’t settle for that. We have let this one go and forget about the turnovers and get better.”

Barnstormers 38, Axemen 26

Iowa 0 15 6 17 — 38

Bemidji 7 13 0 6 — 26

First Quarter

Bem-Balentine 4 yd run (Pulkinen kick), 9:41

Second Quarter

Bem-Galloway 18 yd pass from White (Pulkinen kick blocked), 10:28

Iowa-Davidson PAT return, 10:28

Iowa-Roland 42 yd pass from Nallenweg (Gable kick blockd), 9:46

Bem-Balentine 20 yd pass from White (Pulkinen kick), 2:21

Iowa-Clark 7 yd pass from Nallenweg (Gablekick), 0:16

Third Quarter

Iowa-Roland 23 yd pass from Nallenweg (Nallenweg pass failed), 13:19

Fourth Quarter

Iowa-Roland 16 yd pass from Nallenweg (Gable kick), 12:32

Bem-White 3 yd run (White pass failed), 8:35

Iowa-Casimier 9 yd pass from Nallenweg (Gable kick), 5:59

Iowa-Gable 30 yd field goal kick, 0:35