Story by Donny Victory - Times Record News
The cream of the crop was on display at Kay Yeager Coliseum on Saturday night. Sioux Falls came in to town with an 8-0 record in pursuit of its seventh consecutive Indoor Football League championship.
The Wichita Falls Nighthawks looked forward to the opportunity of playing the best. And were confident they could prove they were playing at that level.
Wichita Falls did play its game, and that game was good enough for a 44-36 victory.
"I've been in this league for a while," Nighthawks defensive back Michael Green said. "And this is the first time that I have ever beaten Sioux Falls. It feels real good."
It is not that big of an upset. Wichita Falls did bring the second best record in the IFL and a belief it is the team to break the string of consecutive championships for the Storm.
"We are here playing for a championship," Nighthawks quarterback Charles McCullum said before the season. "I believe we are the team to beat this season."
Back tempered the teams enthusiasm with a dose of reality.
"It is great to beat Sioux Falls," Back said. "It does give us an idea of where we are as a team, but in reality that is just win number eight on the season. We have a long way to go before the season is over. Have we won a championship? No. Did we prove that we have a team that can? Yes. But this is just another step in the right direction. Hey, I'm happy. I'm proud of the way we played. We did play our game."
The offense moved the ball well against the league's No. 1 ranked defense.
"That was Nighthawks football," Nighthawks receiver Jordan Jolly said. "We did a great job moving the ball. We executed and performed against what could be the best defense we will play against this season."
Wichita Falls was led by Tyler Williams who contributed in every aspect of moving the ball, finishing the game with 226 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns.
McCullum played at his normal MVP level, going 23 of 34 for 174 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. His primary target was Jolly, who finished had 11 catches for 71 yards.
Defensively the Nighthawks held Sioux Falls out of the end zone on seven of its 11 possessions.
"I was happy with the way the defense played," Back said. "They did a great job of communicating and switching. They took care of their responsibilities and really got after them."
The Wichita Falls defense was enjoying the level of their play.
"We talked about it all week," Green said. "We didn't do well last week. We just weren't having fun playing football. That is the reason we all started playing ball. It was fun. And we know on defense when we get back to that we are playing at our best."