The Iowa Barnstormers need just one more win.
After a victory over the Arizona Rattlers on Saturday night, the Iowa Barnstormers just need one more win to seal their spot as the top seed in the Indoor Football League (IFL).
That means, assuming Iowa can knock off either Sioux Falls (9-3) or Cedar Rapids (2-10), the Barnstormers will have home field advantage throughout the IFL Playoffs.
Iowa Barnstormers take first place, beat Arizona Rattlers
“When you beat an Arizona team, you know it’s always big,” Barnstormers coach Dixie Wooten said. “We’ve got more things to do. We moved one step closer to home-field-advantage, but we’ve got Sioux Falls next week and they’re a pretty tough team.”
In the first half, it looked like it was all Arizona’s game.
Big play after big play came for the Iowa defense, but every time Iowa ignited the crowd, the Rattlers had an answer.
Although, in perhaps one of the wildest plays we’ve seen in Wells Fargo Arena, Iowa pulled some trickery during its first offensive possesion.
Quarterback Drew Powell took the snap and threw a pitch to wide receiver Ryan Balentine. Balentine stopped to throw, and found a wide open Brady Roland who jogged backwards into the end zone to score.
That’s a signature celebration Roland has done a couple times in the past.
“This one was good to get the game started off,” Roland said. “We knew they were going to bite on some runs early so Coach drew that up this week. It worked.”
Although the trick play worked, Iowa trailed Arizona 31-27 after the first half.
In the second, though, it was all Barnstormers.
After each team missed a field goal, Iowa was able to mount a bit of momentum on the and slowly drive down the field.
Powell ran his signature quarterback read for a touchdown and gave his team a 34-31 lead with 1:54 to play in the 3rd quarter.
On the ensuing possession for Arizona, historically talented kicker Sawyer Petre missed a 45-yard field goal to give the ball back to the Barnstormers.
The team drove down the field and ran the pitch that they ran for the first touchdown, only this time, Powell tossed the ball to Skylar Scott, and Scott kept it into the end zone.
It gave Iowa a 41-31 lead with 5:52 to play.
The teams traded possessions again, but Arizona didn’t get a chance to score until there was 1:32 to play in the game.
The Rattlers tried to make their way down the field with just one timeout and the one-minute warning, and eventually found the end zone to trim the lead to three.
With 14 seconds to go, the Barnstormers needed to recover an onside kick to seal the victory.
Before the kick, Rocky Hayes, tapped Brandon Haskins on the back.
“I saw the kicker’s eyes,” Hayes said. “We made eye contact at one point. I figured I was the guy he was going to choose to try. I was giving Brandon a heads up letting him know he was gonna kick the ball that way.”
The ball bounced right over the head of Hayes, who came down with it and helped the Barnstormers come away with the victory.
“See ball, catch ball,” Hayes said.
Iowa’s next game will be on the road next Friday when they travel to Sioux Falls, SD to take on the Sioux Falls Storm. That game will kick off at 7:05 p.m.
With just one win needed to seal home-field advantage and a matchup with a helpless Cedar Rapids team around the corner, it would be understandable to see a limited playbook for the Barnstormers in Sioux Falls.
However, when Wooten was asked if that would be the case, he had a different opinion.
“F*ck no,” Wooten said. “We’re trying to win the game. We want to win out. In this league, if you try and do that, you can lose your team. IT will be all hands on deck and we’ll be playing to win.”