Dodge City, KS (westernkansasnews.com) In a game that saw five touchdowns over the first five and a half minutes the Dodge City Law Indoor Football team showed why the road to a championship has to begin at home beating the San Angelo Bandits 66-43 to begin the 2016 season.
Last year the Law finished at 7-5 after jumping out to a 6-1 start, but managed only one win over their last five games and lost the tiebreaker for the fourth and final playoff spot to Amarillo. Dodge City Head Coach Sean Ponder identified one big area that needed improvement was his quarterback play. The Law average just 132 passing yards last season below the league average.
Derrick Bernard came in an attempt to pump the Law’s passing game into high gear, but it was the combination of his feet and arm that gave San Angelo trouble. Bernard rushed for 108 on 15 carries and added three rushing touchdowns of 23, 17 and 1 yard opening the scoring in the first, second and fourth quarters. Ten of the Law 18 first downs on the night were gained on the ground.
Bernard passed well going 10-15 for 155 yards and his lone touchdown of the night was a 35 yard strike to running back Dominique Carson giving Dodge City the lead for good 18-14 with a little more than nine and a half minute left to play in the first quarter. Carson who led the league in all-pupose yards last year was used not only as a running back, but a slot back and he was much more effective in catching Bernard’s passes than even on the ground.
Carson had four rushing touchdowns, but all from short yardage three from one yard out and one score from two. He suffered an injury midway through the third quarter. Trainers were working on his lower leg or ankle. The star running back did not return to the game.
The Law defense was hit and miss all night. DC allowed 307 yards net passing most of them to new Bandits quarterback Tyrik Rollison. His favorite target was wide receiver Stephen Alfred who hauled in 12 receptions for 160 yards including a 27 yard score with 2:32 in the third quarter that pulled the Bandits to sixteen points at 59-43.
Up front Dodge City did a nice job of putting constant pressure on the quarterback. Jamaal Brewton was sent in from the linerbacker position to put on the heat. He had a first half sack of 12 yards and a number of pressures. Defensive lineman Marquis George forced a fumble when the Bandits faced 3rd and 17 from the Law 19 and were down 59-37 with a little more than eight minutes left in the game. Louvan Green made the recovery for the Law at the Dodge City 13. It would be the only turnover of the game for either team.
There was a lot of excitment on kickoffs. Antonio Bray returned a kickoff for the Bandits to the Dodge City Law 3 and three later Rollison found Jason Stephenson for an 11 yard score making it 14-12 San Angelo. The Bandits Michael Pace returned the second half opening kickoff for a touchdown bringing San Angelo to within four points of the Law at 38-34. That would be the closest San Angelo could come the rest of the night.
Dodge City also added their own kickoff for a touchdown when Cashim Thomas in for the injured Dominique Carson went the distance for a 50 yard return after a Mark Zlatek 22 yard field goal and the Law regained control of the game 52-37.
Dodge City will return home next Saturday, March 5th to play the Mesquite Marshals. Pre-game is at 6:30, kickoff at 7 from United Wireless Arena.