Sioux Falls, S.D. — The Nebraska Danger has had some tough losses to the Sioux Falls Storm over the years.
Saturday’s loss may have been the toughest of them all.
A two-yard run by Brandon Sheperd with no time on the clock gave Sioux Falls a 57-56 win over the Nebraska Danger at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
The final play came on an untimed down after the Danger was called for pass interference on an incomplete pass that could have been the final play of the game.
That gave the Sioux Falls an extra play, and the Storm took advantage of the opportunity.
“There was very little incidental contact on the last play,” Danger assistant coach Damon Ware said on the post game radio show “Not that one play loses a game, but that’s just a tough call to make for the officials at that point in the game.”
Tommy Armstrong was 11-for-16 passing for 125 yards and three touchdowns for the Danger. He also led the rushing attack with 63 yards on 12 carries with three touchdowns. The Danger was without running back Davonte Sapp-Lynch who was out after suffering a concussion in practice earlier in the week.
It was the 11th straight win for the Storm (9-2) over the Danger (5-6) in Sioux Falls.
The Danger took the lead late in the first half on a 10-yard TD pass from Armstrong to Eric Thomas. That gave the Danger a 34-31 lead at the break.
The Danger received the second half kickoff and after a couple of false start penalties, Armstrong hit Johnny Johnson IV with a 26-yard TD strike for a 40-31 lead.
But the Storm bounced right back. Quarterback Lorenzo Brown scored on a 2-yard run and then on the next possession hit Sheperd with a 42-yard TD pass to take a 45-40 lead with 5:12 left in the third quarter.
The Danger offense got hit with several penalties on the next possession which led to a long field goal attempt by Diego Marquez. He responded by nailing the kick from 49 yards out to pull the Danger to within 45-43 early in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we did a great job of battling,” Ware said. “Obviously Sioux Falls is a great football team. This was a great game. I mean two teams battling as hard as they could for four quarters. We knew there were going to be ebbs and flows in the game. It was all about staying in the moment. The most important play is the next play. I think we did a great job all the way up to the last play of the game.”
The Danger sacked Brown twice on the next series of downs, and Parker Douglass’ long field goal attempt came up short to give Nebraska the ball on its own 17.
The Danger turned that possession into a 13-yard scoring pass from Armstrong to Thomas to give Nebraska a 50-45 lead with 8:12 left on the clock.
But Brown found Sheperd on a 21-yard TD pass. The Storm went for two, but Brown’s pass to Sheperd fell incomplete and Sioux Falls held a 51-50 lead with 3:09 left.
The Danger picked up a big third down play inside of a minute left to move the ball to the Sioux Falls 7. Two plays later, Armstrong broke loose for an 8-yard TD run. A two-point conversion pass failed and the Danger was up 56-51 with 46 seconds left.
The Storm drove down to the Nebraska 12. That set the stage for the pass interference call and the winning TD run by Sheperd.
“You never want to put a game on the refs, but again that’s a tough call to make at a crucial moment in the game,” Ware said. “Hats of to them. They did a great job of keeping their team in the moment as well. Again it comes down to just some of these little plays that you have throughout the course of the game that just really hurt.”
The Danger will host Quad City Friday night at the Heartland Events Center in the final home game of the season.