The Cedar Rapids Titans came to the Heartland Events Center with the worst record (1-8) in the IFL, hoping to get some momentum going to finish the season. Instead, a consistent passing game by the Danger helped them shred the Titans 50-38 Friday night.
The first half was fairly one-sided in favor of the Danger. The Nebraska defense stepped up early and often, kicking off when Nikolas Sierra caught a tipped pass for an interception on Cedar Rapids' first drive. Four minutes later, after a methodic drive by the Danger, Rob Brown took a hand-off three yards for the first touchdown of the game. After a missed point after attempt, Nebraska led 6-0. On the Titans' second possession, another tipped pass fell into the hands of Jamar Love who returned the ball 34 yards, setting up a field goal by Nicholas Giaffoglione and giving the Danger the 9-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Danger defense continued to have an impressive performance to start the second quarter, getting a turnover on downs. However, Nebraska quarterback Patrick McCain threw an interception on the first play while looking to score on a deep throw. Cedar Rapids then hung onto the ball for nearly five minutes before their drive stalled and they turned the ball back over to the Danger on downs. Nebraska would go on to get three total turnovers on downs in the second quarter, scoring off two of them before the half. The Titan offense showed some life after a Danger penalty allowed them to score on a short field, as quarterback Brion Carnes found Tre Parmalee for a seven-yard touchdown pass. After a missed PAT from Cedar Rapids, the half ended with a score of 23-6.
"Our defense came to play tonight. This was by far our most aggressive game of the year and it paid off big time. If we can continue that with some consistency to finish out the year we will be hard to beat," said Head Coach Hurtis Chinn.
Nebraska did not miss a beat, picking up the scoring in the third quarter right where they left off. McCain found his favorite target of the night, receiver Demitri Stimphil for a 19-yard touchdown pass. The Danger would then get yet another turnover on downs and turn it into a touchdown, this time McCain finding Rob Brown for a 24-yard touchdown pass, increasing their lead to 31 points, 37-6. Then both teams would trade kickoff returns for touchdowns. First, Cedar Rapids returner Tony Grimes ran one back from 38 yards out. On the ensuing kick, Demetruce McNeal returned the ball from five yards deep in the end zone clear to the other end, for a 57-yard touchdown, making the score 43-14. Cedar Rapids got their offense cranking and scored a touchdown in just over two minutes, as they tried to chip away at the Danger lead with a score of 43-22. Nebraska wasn't looking to slow down, as McCain found Eric Thomas for a 27-yard touchdown to end the third quarter, 50-22.
Cedar Rapids got the ball to start the fourth quarter and put together a drive that took up seven minutes before Nebraska got another turnover on downs. A five minute Danger drive nearly ended with a score, but a bobbled snap and fumble turned the ball over to Cedar Rapids, who scored on the next play with a 46-yard pass from Carnes to Paramalee for a touchdown. A completed two-point conversion cut the Nebraska lead to 20, 50-30. The Titans were then able to recover an onside kick and score again after the one minute warning, cutting the lead to even further. That was the last score of the game as the Nebraska Danger won with a score of 50-38.
"We need to continue to play strong until the last play of the game. I feel like we let them back into the game because we got caught out of place, missed a tackle down the stretch, or just generally forgot our fundamentals. Still give a lot of credit to the guys for getting the win tonight," Chinn said.
The Nebraska Danger next play at the Wichita Falls Nighthawks Friday, May 5th and return home to the Heartland Events Center on May 20th to play the Green Bay Blizzard.