With Bryce Enyard down, Rocky Hayes steps up, Iowa moves on

Rocky Hayes steps up
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With 6:14 left to play in the first quarter of Friday night’s Indoor Football League (IFL) playoff game, Bryce Enyard, went down with an injury and remained on the field for several minutes.

The arena was quiet, and in shock, as the league’s interception leader laid in agony.

When the trainers came out to escort him back to the bench, Enyard could not put any pressure on his leg and had to be helped off the field.

Enyard turned out to have a torn Achilles, and he quickly found out that he will be out for the season.

“I thought this was my big break, Enyard said. “I was going to have my work outs coming up after the season. “I’ve gotta get on this recovery path and get on these players and help them out as much as I can.”

Bryce Enyard shakes hands with a Nebraska player, while on crutches, following the Iowa Barnstormers victory over the Nebraska Danger on Friday. Enyard exited the game in the first quarter due to an injury and won’t play again this season. Photo by Connor Ferguson

Enyard’s Iowa Barnstormers went on to defeat the Nebraska Danger 48-17 at Wells Fargo Arena, punching their ticket to the United Bowl which will be held in Des Moines.

With Bryce Enyard down, Rocky Hayes steps up, Iowa moves on

After a slow start that saw the Barnstormers down by seven and without their best defensive player on the field, Iowa showed its ability to overcome adversity.

The Barnstormers, who were down 7-0, forced the Danger into kicking a field goal, which missed wide left, and opened the door for Iowa.

Quarterback Drew Powell through a Tim Tebow-esque jump pass to Ryan Balentine in the end zone, tying the game for Iowa.

The teams traded scores on ensuing possessions and Iowa took their first lead of the night, going up 14-10 with 3:35 to play in the half.

Enter Rocky Hayes.

On 3rd and 10 for Nebraska, Danger quarterback Greg Hankerson Jr. threw a deep pass that was intercepted by Hayes.

Up to that point, the Barnstormers had been struggling with momentum, and Hayes’ pick pushed them over the edge. With just 1:24 remaining in the half Powell lead the offense down the field and broke into the end zone seconds before halftime.

Iowa went into the half with a 20-10 lead.

“Rocky has been playing well all year,” Enyard said. “I kept telling Rocky to, ‘Be ready for that opportunity,’ and he balled out.”

The Barnstormers, and Hayes, didn’t look back.

Iowa would only give up one more score in the entirety of the second half, while Hayes corralled two more interceptions, including a pick-six.

“I am beyond proud of Rocky,” Enyard said. “He stepped up tonight.”

The Barnstormers win clinches them a spot in their first championship game since 1997.

Barnstormers players celebrate with the conference championship trophy after defeating the Nebraska Danger 48-17 on Friday. Photo by Connor Ferguson.

“We put in the work since February 1st to be in this situation,” head coach Dixie Wooten said. “I really can’t think about that because we’ve got one more game to play for the championship.”

Iowa will play the winner of Saturday night’s IFL playoff game between the No. 2 Arizona Rattlers and No. 3 Sioux Falls Storm.

The Barnstormers coaching staff plans to get together to watch the game, but they couldn’t care less about who they will face in the title game.

“We dont give a damn who it is,” Wooten said. “Whoever shows up in Iowa in two weeks is who we will play.”