Omaha deals Bandits first home loss of the season

Sunday afternoon was full of frustration for the Sioux City Bandits. 

Frustration at opportunities lost, crucial mistakes, and the team’s first loss of the season in front of the home fans.

The Bandits lost to Omaha on Sunday, 41-37, at Tyson Events Center. 

The Beef got the scoring started at the 5:33 mark of the first quarter when Omaha quarterback Andrew Jackson hit receiver Rashad Pargo for an eight-yard touchdown pass. After the PAT, Omaha led Sioux City, 7-0. 

The Bandits responded quickly, as Xavier Spann fielded the Omaha kickoff in the end-zone, and ran it 50 yards for the score. Sioux City kicker Braden Meints couldn’t convert the PAT, however, and Sioux City still trailed, 7-6. 

Just over a minute later, Omaha scored again, as Jackson hit wide receiver Tyler Jones for an 11-yard score, giving Omaha a 14-6 lead. 

The next score came for Sioux City with 30 seconds left in the first quarter, as running back Jeff Mack capped off a five-play, 31-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run, one play after Drew Prohaska made diving, crowd-pleasing 19-yard catch into the stands that gave Sioux City a first down at the one-yard line. The touchdown put the score at 14-12, in favor of Omaha.

The Beef got the ball to start the second quarter and methodically drove down the field for another score, as Jackson ended the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, and Omaha’s lead grew to nine points, at 21-12. 

The Bandits finished their next drive in seven plays, ending it with a one-yard touchdown run from Mack, to pull within three points, at 21-18. The Bandits again tried for a two-point conversion but failed, as quarterback Daniel Smith’s pass fell incomplete. 

After a scoreless five-minute stretch, the Beef scored another touchdown to go up by 10 points. Sioux City then took two plays to go 25 yards for a touchdown, on a nine-yard pass from Smith to Zach Ely. But the Bandits again failed to convert the PAT, as Meints' kick attempt went wide right. 

At halftime, the Bandits trailed Omaha, 28-24. On their first drive of the second half, Sioux City finally pulled ahead as Prohaska ran it in from the one-yard line for his only touchdown of the day.

This time, Meints’ PAT attempt was good, and the Bandits were in front, 31-28. But the lead was short-lived, as the Beef took just over five and a half minutes to go 21 yards on six plays. After Omaha was stopped on third down, Beef kicker Jeremy Reynolds hit a 34-yard field goal to tie it up at 31-31.  

After Omaha scored again in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass to Tyler Jones, the Bandits battled back to tie it with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Meints. The Bandits were set to take the one-point lead, but the PAT was blocked, and the score was knotted at 37-37 with 3:09 remaining.

One drive later, Reynolds hit a 19-yard field goal to put the Beef up by three points with 34 seconds remaining. 

Sioux City had an opportunity for one final drive, but a crucial mistake put them in even more of a hole. The Bandits fumbled the ball at the goal line while fielding the kick return, and Omaha recovered it for a play that was initially called a touchdown. After a review, the officials awarded Omaha a rouge point, which gave the Beef their eventual winning 41-37 lead. Smith threw an interception on the final offensive play for Sioux City, and Omaha kneeled to end it.

“We just made too many mistakes,” Bandits’ head coach Erv Strohbeen said. “Mistakes that are easily correctable, but we didn't correct them. Busted coverages, busted blocking schemes. You name it, we had it. You can’t do that against a good football team.”

The Bandits were without several key players on Sunday afternoon due to injury, including veteran Fred Bruno, who leads the team in rushing yards this season. Without Bruno, the Bandits struggled to run the ball, finishing with just 18 total yards on 16 attempts.