GAME 8: Wichita 59, Bismarck 58
Two-point conversion comes up short in closing seconds
By SCOOTER PURSLEY
It was all or nothing Saturday night in Wichita, where Bismarck Bucks’ head coach Paco Martinez – in a return to the site where he won three Champions Indoor Football titles – gambled and came up short in a 59-58 loss to the Force.
With just over 30 seconds to play, the Bucks scored to pull within one point. Instead of trying to tie the game with a PAT, Martinez went for two and Zavier Steward was stopped at the 1-yard line, sending the Bucks to their fourth straight loss. It was the fourth straight game that the outcome was determined on Bismarck’s final play.
Steward led the Bucks in rushing with 27 yards on nine carries and scored two touchdowns.
Aaron Aiken completed 11 of 23 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, one to Jauhem Byrd – who had two TDs called back by penalties – and another to Justin Mott. Aiken also rushed for two touchdowns, despite being sacked four times. Byrd had four catches for 75 yard s and scored on a short run and Elby Pope added four catches for 56 yards.
Tray Boone ran a missed field goal back 50 yards for a TD but he was injured and helped off the field in the second half.
Wichita quarterback Rocky Hinds was 20-for-34 passing for 255 yards and four touchdowns. He tossed scoring strikes to Maurice Young (3 catches for 53 yards), Edward Smith (1-36), Charles Johnson (3-25) and Chris Hemphill (1-4). Two of those passes were deflections to receivers behind the secondary.
Mario Espinosa was the Bucks’ fourth kicker this season. He was 1-for-5 on field goals and 5-for-6 on PATS.
Tyler Hanks had nine tackles for the Bucks and linebacker Jarelle Miller was everywhere with seven tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss.
The Bucks dropped to 4-6, leaving them tied with Omaha and Wichita for the final playoff spot. They have a bye this week, then close out the regular season at Omaha and North Conference-leading Salina.