BLOOMINGTON — Seeking to clinch a playoff berth, the scuffling Bloomington Edge offense got a much-needed shot in the arm Friday night – a little dose of “Hollywood.”
Quarterback Dusty Burk threw the first of his seven touchdown passes to defensive lineman Antonio Ficklin, starting Bloomington on the path to a 62-43 Indoor Football League victory over the rival Chicago Slaughter before a U.S. Cellular Coliseum crowd of 3,881.
“That was the old Dusty; he really felt comfortable,” said Edge coach Kenton Carr, whose team improved to 9-3 and moved a half-game ahead of idle Green Bay in the United Conference standings. “Offensively we really turned it around and I think it gives us more confidence.”
The flashy nicknamed Ficklin added a second score, powering in from four yards in the second quarter to give Bloomington a 21-13 lead.
“I’ll hear about that until the cows come home, trust me,” Carr said of Ficklin’s offensive contributions.
Burk completed 22 of 30 passes for 268 yards and two TDs apiece to Ricardo Lenhart, John Cooper and Charles Dowdell. Chicago’s gambling defensive backs frequently left Burk’s targets uncovered.
“The secondary was trying to jump my eyes a little bit,” said Burk. “But when they guessed wrong it opened up a lot of stuff. You get a little gun shy when they’re that wide open. I’m just glad I didn’t miss them.
“The biggest part is how well our offensive line played. I don’t think I went to the ground once and that makes my life a lot easier.”
Cooper’s 20-yard catch to cap the opening drive of the second half put Bloomington ahead 41-20. Chicago charged to within four on a 43-yard Chris Nendick field goal, a 3-yard Juice Williams run and Christopher Rodgers’ 24-yard interception return.
Cooper’s second score provided some breathing room, but the Slaughter quickly drove inside the Edge 1. After a false start, Ameer Ismail sacked Chicago quarterback Perry Patterson to force a long field goal try which missed.
Patterson was held to 164 yards passing and threw three interceptions after entering the game with just four picks.
“That’s a scoring machine over there and I thought our defense played great,” said Carr. “They’ve got so much speed but we were able to get pressure on Patterson.”
The Edge defense had a chance to hold Chicago under 20 points in the first half. With 51 seconds on the clock, James Temple intercepted a deep pass from Patterson, who was hit as he released the throw. Temple began to return the pick then decided to lateral to a teammate.
The ball came loose and was scooped up by Slaughter center Jovon Potter, who lumbered to the Edge 1 before Kyle Thomas could make the stop. Daniel DuFrene scored on the following play, cutting Bloomington’s lead to 28-20.
The Edge needed just four plays to answer. A fantastic one-handed 21-yard grab by Lenhart set up goal-to-go from the Slaughter 9. After a holding penalty, Burk found a wide open Lenhart in the back of the end zone with :04 seconds left.
Newly signed running back Jonas Randolph's 9-yard TD run with 1:03 left iced the victory as the Edge beat Chicago for a third straight time after dropping the season opener on the road.
Bloomington travels to face Wichita next week before closing the regular season at home against Cedar Rapids on June 8.