INDOOR FOOTBALL: Axemen beat Green Bay on final play, 55-54
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Down six with four seconds left on the Green Bay Blizzard four-yard line, Bemidji Axemen head coach Dixie Wooten reused a play that had been a touchdown earlier.
Josh Jarboe caught a five-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, but in the fourth quarter and the game on the line, quarterback EJ White found running back Mulku Kalokoh for the score and the 55-54 win.
“We called it earlier in the game and went to Jarboe for a touchdown,” Wooten said. “We knew if we lined up in the same formation they would see it coming and again. (Kalokoh) came out the backfield and their backside corner shifted to (receiver Sheldon) Galloway and (Kalokoh) was wide open.”
It was Kalokoh’s fifth touchdown of the game, as he ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns and caught two more touchdowns with 20 receiving yards.
He also put the team in great field position to answer each of the Blizzard’s (2-2) scores with 117 return yards.
“He sets the tone for our team,” Wooten said. “He can do everything. He can run, he can catch and he’s big on special teams. Our offense can do so much with him.”
The Axemen (2-2) were also led by White, who threw for 178 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
He also ran for 77 yards and another score to help the team total 378 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, Green Bay came into the game with one of the top offenses, but Bemidji stepped up to hold the team to 171 yards.
“White did a great job and he came in comfortable,” Wooten said. “He took care of the ball. It was a game of high-powered offenses and it came down to whose defense could make a stop. Our defense came to play and made the play at the end.”
The Blizzard took a 54-49 lead with 27 seconds left, but the Axemen defense denied the two-point conversion attempt to help keep the team a touchdown away.
“(Defensive coordinator Anquanius Frazier) made a great call and we made the stop,” Wooten said. “But they called us for holding so they got another play at the one-yard line. But our defense made the stop again.”
Helping out on defense for the first time in his football career was former Blizzard Ryan Balentine.
The veteran wide receiver caused the Green Bay coaches headaches on both sides of the ball as he caught a game-high eight passes for 81 yards and a touchdown while also setting up the game-winning score with a nice run after a reception.
He also caught passes from the opposing quarterback as he recorded his first interception on his first series playing defense ever.
“We can put Balentine anywhere on the field,” Wooten said. “We can place him anywhere and he’ll pick it up like that.”
And, just like that, the Axemen are at .500 and in third place of the United Conference after starting the season 0-2.
With the 109 rushing yards Kalokoh is now the second-leading rusher in the Indoor Football League and is fifth in rushing touchdowns. He also leads the league in return yards per game.
Jarboe is now third in the IFL in receiving yards per game while Balentine moves up to fifth.
“Our momentum is high right now,” Wooten said. “The guys know how to win. We had the best offensive line in the league last week and our defensive line came to play. Everyone understands their roles right now.”
The Axemen will look to keep their momentum going as they travel to Wichita Falls, Texas for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday against the 0-4 Nighthawks in Kay Yeager Coliseum.