BLOOMINGTON — Holding a slim fourth-quarter lead, the Bloomington Extreme ached for a big offensive play Saturday night after three tough weeks.
John Cooper delivered. Then, after a little help from a ball-hawking defense, Rocky Hinds and James Walton followed suit.
Hinds hit Cooper and Walton on crucial touchdown passes in the final 12 minutes to help the Extreme snap its longest losing streak in four years with a 45-27 Indoor Football League victory over the Nebraska Danger before a crowd of 4,421 at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
“Our guys consistently played hard through all the tough games, and that’s going to benefit us down the road,” said Extreme coach Mike Murray after his team improved to 8-4. “Having our guys stay consistent through the good and bad and to have it pay off with the win here tonight, you enjoy it for them because they work so hard.”
Cooper’s 14-yard, over-the-shoulder catch with a defender on his back gave the Extreme a 38-27 lead with 11:50 left. After takeaways by Calvin Bini and Ke’Andre Sams thwarted consecutive Danger drives, the Extreme moved in to position to seal the victory.
Facing fourth-and-goal from the 2 with 1:53 left, Murray passed on a field goal for a 14-point lead. Hinds took the snap, rolled left to escape the pressure of Fred Poole and heaved a pass toward the uprights where Walton leaped and came down against the wall with the ball.
“Great play by Walton, but a really great play by Rock. He kept himself alive and hung in there until somebody broke free,” said Murray. “That could be the biggest play of the season because we had to have a big play, and he made it.”
Despite throwing for just 94 yards, Hinds made three of his 17 completions count for touchdowns. Andre Raymond added two short touchdown runs.
Two takeaways by the Extreme defense keyed an early 14-0 lead. Terrill Mayberry’s 20-yard interception return to the Nebraska 1-yard line set up Raymond’s first TD run. On the next series, Danger quarterback Dixie Wooten coughed up the ball on a hit by Sean Kelly and Quince Holman recovered it in the end zone.
Nebraska (3-8) scored 10 unanswered points on a 3-yard Wooten run and a 30-yard field goal by Adrian Trevino. Bloomington answered on the next drive, keyed by a 35-yard kick return by Brandon Walker-Roby. Walton’s determination on a 6-yard reception showed as he stretched the ball across the goal line for a 21-10 lead.
Murray decided to take a Pete Christofilakos field goal off the board late in the half, accepting a roughing-the-kicker penalty to get first-and-goal at the Danger 10. Raymond made the decision pay on fourth down, following Antonio Ficklin’s lead blocking on a 2-yard sweep.
Trevino connected on a 35-yard kick as the first half expired, cutting Bloomington’s lead to 28-13. Wooten connected with Ryan Moore on a pair of second-half TD passes.
AT BLOOMINGTON – U.S. Cellular Coliseum
Nebraska 7 6 7 7 — 27
Bloomington 14 14 3 14 — 45
B – Raymond 1-yd. run (Christofilakos kick)
B – Holman 14-yd. fumble rec. (Christofilakos kick)
N – Wooten 3-yd. run (Trevino kick)
N – Trevino 30-yd. field goal
B – Walton 6-yd. pass from Hinds (Christofilakos kick)
B – Raymond 2-yd. run (Christofilakos kick)
N – Trevino 35-yd. field goal
N – Moore 5-yd. pass from Wooten (Trevino kick)
B – Christofilakos 24-yd. field goal
N – Moore 23-yd. pass from Wooten (Trevino kick)
B – Cooper 14-yd. pass from Hinds (Christofilakos kick)
B – Walton 2-yd. pass from Hinds (Christofilakos kick)