LOVELAND, Colo. — The Nebraska Danger had fallen twice to the Colorado Ice during the 2014 regular season.
The Danger made sure it didn’t happen a third time.
Nebraska made the third time the charm, thanks to scoring 30 first-half points in a 45-15 win over Colorado Thursday at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo., in the Intense Conference championship game.
The Ice had posted a 38-30 and a 41-28 wins over the Danger this season.
With the win, the Danger advances to the United Bowl on the road against the winner of the United Conference Championship game between Sioux Falls and Cedar Rapids, which will be played Saturday.
In the first half, Nebraska had 191 yards of total offense, while holding the Ice to 86 yards with six points and forcing three turnovers.
In all, the Danger defense held Colorado quarterback Willi Copeland to 19-for-45 for 196 yards and picked him off three times, returning two of those for touchdowns.
“We’re just thrilled to be going back to the title game,” Danger general manager Mike McCoy said. “It was a great team effort on both sides of the ball. Anytime you can put up 30 points and hold a team like that to six points, that’s just unbelievable. But we have a veteran squad and they were well prepared tonight.”
The Danger gained momentum early after Colorado kicker Phil Welch missed a 45-yard field goal on the Ice’s first possession of the game.
After Joe Houston kicked his first of four field goal from 24 yards to put Nebraska on the board, Marcus Barnett recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The Danger took advantage as Jameel Sewell threw a 32-yard touchdown strike to Kayne Farquharson in going up 9-0.
Nebraska made it 16-0 after Marcus Barnett caught a 5-yard pass from Sewell.
After the Ice got on the board with a Kyle Kaiser 10-yard touchdown pass from Copeland, the Danger answered as Sewell found Andre Piper-Jordan on a 4-yard touchdown pass. A few seconds later, Adrian Davis makes an interception then tosses the ball to Jamar Love, who took it in for a touchdown for a 30-6 lead to complete the first-half scoring.
After Houston kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it 33-6 to start the second half, the Ice had a chance to get back into the game after Copeland scored on a 4-yard run. Colorado then recovered the onside kick, but Nebraska stopped them on four downs at the 4-yard line.
“That was a great defensive stand by our guys,” McCoy said.
Houston added two more field goals in the contest and an Adrian Davis 43-yard interception touchdown return capped the Danger scoring.
Sewell was 14-of-27 for 182 yards with three touchdowns, while Piper-Jordan had four catches for 29 yards with a touchdown catch.
Farquharson suffered an injury early in the third quarter when he was carried off on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. But he was later cleared and released.
McCoy said with everything Nebraska had been through with the injuries and such, he’s thrilled that the Danger is going to back to the title game. The Danger lost to Sioux Falls 43-40 in last year’s championship game.
“We’ve had an unbelievable year with injuries and to finish the regular season 10-4 and win this first playoff game with everything this group has been through has been a great thing for them,” McCoy said. “They’ve had great attitudes and great hearts. We needed to get this game in order to make it back there again with all the setbacks. We have a healthy team right now and we are more than thrilled.”
Nebraska (11-4) 9 21 3 12—45
Colorado (10-5) 0 6 7 2—15
NEB — Houston 24 field goal, 7:11.
NEB — Farquharson 32 pass from Sewell (kick failed), 4:56.
NEB — Barnett 5 pass from Sewell (Houston kick), 5:39.
COL — Kaiser 10 pass from Copeland (Kick failed), 2:07.
NEB — Piper-Jordan 4 pass from Sewell (Houston kick), 0:40.
NEB — Love 25 interception return (Houston kick), 0:15.
NEB — Houston 28 field goal, 7:00.
COL — Copeland 4 run (Welch kick), 1:45.
NEB — Houston 29 field goal, 10:13.
NEB — Houston 33 field goal, 5:21.
NEB — Scott 43 interception return, 2:31
COL — Farquharson defensive PAT, 2:31.
First downs 14 13
Total offense 239 204
Yards passing 182 175
Att.-Comp-Int. 14-27-1 19-45-3
Rushes-yards 13-57 9-29
Return yards 2-10 8-94
Penalties 11-108 10-68
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Sacks-yards 3-21 0-0
Time of possession 29:05 30:55
RUSHING — NEB: Sewell 9-62, Evans 4-minus 5. COL: Copeland 5-23, Bell 4-6.
PASSING — NEB: Sewell 14-27-1 182. COL: Copeland 19-45-3 196
RECEIVING — NEB: Piper-Jordan 4-29, Simpson 3-53, Farquharson, 3-49, Barnett 3-30, Evans 1-21. COL: Tillery 6-58, Fusilier 4-52, Kaiser 4-45, Bell 3-26, Davis 2-15.
Five Danger players make All-IFL teams
The Nebraska Danger had five players make the All-IFL teams Thursday.
Darius Savage, Claude Wroten and Jamar Love all made First Team All-IFL. Savage made the first team offense as an offensive linemen, while Wroten and Love made the defensive team. Wroten made it as a defensive lineman, while Love made it as a defensive back.
Kayne Farquharson and Pig Brown earned Second-Team honors. Farquharson made the offensive squad as a wide receiver, while Brown made the defensive squad as a linebacker.