The Wichita Force earned their first victory of the season, thanks to 29 second half points by their offense on their way to a 42-32 victory over the Oklahoma Flying Aces on Saturday. Rookie Jack Tomlinson continues to be a real force, making nine receptions and scoring two touchdowns. The defense also continued their dramatic turnaround, grounding the Flying Aces in the second half by allowing just 12 points while recording three turnovers.
For the first time this season the Wichita Force received the ball first and they made the most of that opportunity, marching 32 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Force moved into Oklahoma territory thanks to two pass completions by quarterback Joe Hubener. Mikhail Lindsay then burst through the line for a nine yard carry, moving the ball to the five. Two plays later, Lindsay would get the ball again, scoring from two yards out to give his team the early lead.
Wichita would add a 27 yard field goal on their next possession to take a 10-0 lead coming out of the first quarter, but the Flying Aces would rally, scoring the next 20 points. Quarterback Josh Floyd’s one yard touchdown pass to Jordan Payne made it a four point game, and it would then be their special teams that would make a big play to give Oklahoma the lead. Drake’s 48 yard field goal attempt was blocked by Anthony Washing and recovered by Donavan Logan, who scored to put the Flying Aces on top 13-10.
On their next possession, the Oklahoma Flying Aces would extend their lead to 10. On the first play of the drive, Floyd found Josh Stewart for 24 yards to the Wichita five. A holding penalty would move them back 10 yards, but Floyd found Michael Billing for seven yards before hitting Jones for an eight yard touchdown to make it 20-10.
The Force would add a 23 yard field goal just before the half, putting them down by seven, and it looked like they were about to let this game slip away. However, the defense would turn things around right away with a game changing play.
Oklahoma received the second half kickoff, and it looked like they would be stopped when they were faced with a fourth and 2 at their own 20. The coaching staff opted to go for it and the Wichita Force were ready for them. Floyd looked to gain the first down on a quarterback keeper but fumbled. Marcus Carter scooped it up and raced toward the end zone, however, he fumbled at the two. The ball rolled into the end zone and looked like it was going to hit the back boards for a touchback, but Ian Knight made a diving grab to corral the ball before touching the end wall for the touchdown. That tied the score at 20.
Wichita would get back on top on their next possession. Hubener got the team out of some trouble when he found Tomlinson over the middle for a 15 yard completion on third and 5, and it would be this combination that would put the team back on top. On third and four at the 19, Hubener looked like he had overshot Daren Ross, Jr., but Tomlinson came from out of nowhere to make a diving catch as he fell into the end zone for the touchdown. That made it 27-20.
The Flying Aces would cut the deficit to one on a two yard touchdown run by Floyd, and Drake followed with a 20 yard field goal to make it 30-26. Floyd would then score from two yards out once again and Oklahoma was back on top. However, from their the Force would dominate the final seven minutes of the game.
Trailing by two, Drake hit a 29 yard field goal to put Wichita back on top for good. On their next possession, he drilled a 46 yard field goal, his fifth of the game to make it 36-32.
The Flying Aces had one more chance when they received the ball with 41 seconds left in the game. Floyd found Jordan Payne for 19 yards to start the drive, putting the ball at the Wichita 22. They would get no further as the defense stiffened. Floyd’s next pass was dropped before Chaquil Reed sacked the Oklahoma quarterback for a six yard loss. On the next play, Floyd’s pass to Payne was dropped. That set up a fourth down. The Flying Aces QB went back looking for an open man, but there was none to be found. His pass fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs.
On the final play of the game, Hubener sealed the victory with a 26 yard touchdown completion to Tomlinson to close the scoring out as the Wichita Force won, 42-32.
Tomlinson made 9 catches for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns. That now gives him six on the season, tied for second most in the league. Hubener was 16 of 32 for 135 yards and 2 scores. Lindsay led the rushing attack with 7 carries for 24 yards and a TD.
The defense had their best performance of the season, holding Oklahoma to 142 yards of total offense, which included -7 yards rushing. Troy Talaga led the team with 8 tackles and had an interception. Marcus Carter was second with 7 tackles and he recovered two fumbles.
The Wichita Force (1-2) head to Nebraska this Saturday to take on the Omaha Beef (1-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 7:05. This is the second of a three game road trip. The team will return home on April 27 when they take on the Flying Aces.
By Robert Pannier