Milwaukee Wins in a Barnburner
Friday July 15th was the last home game for the Milwaukee Mustangs (6-11) and it was a barnburner. The Iowa Barnstormers (5-12) came into town with the same record as Milwaukee and the first half left one to believe this was going to be a close game. Milwaukee has proven to be a second half team all season and this was no different as they outscored Iowa 54-14 in the second half to bring home the victory 83-49.
Throughout the first half Milwaukee and Iowa exchanged touchdowns. The most exciting play of the first half had to be with the score 7-6 in favor of Iowa, Milwaukee was struggling with a drawn out ten play drive which included 4 penalties and left Milwaukee on their own 21 yard line and a field goal attempt. The kick went off the right post and was recovered by Dwayne Lefall which he ran in for a touchdown. "It was just one of those bounces." Lefall said of the rebound, then he added, "I didn't know it was going to be a touchdown, I thought there was going to be a penalty or something." The extra point brought the score to 13-7 with Milwaukee in the lead.
A very scary moment came in the second quarter as Trevonti Johnson launched himself into a helmet to helmet hit on Dwayne Eley Jr. The sound that the crash made was sickening and the crowd went silent. Eley was slow to get up and obviously shaken up as his helmet flew across the field from the hit. Trevonti was ejected from the game. This type of hit is simply uncalled for. Eley left the game but fortunately was able to return in the second half.
This back and forth continued for the remainder of the first half leaving Iowa with a 35-29 lead.
The second half started with Milwaukee scoring a touchdown only to have the extra point blocked out of bounds, tying the game at 35.
After a failed attempt at an onside kick Iowa had the ball on Milwaukee's 23 yard line. Milwaukee's defense finally made it to the game. After allowing one pass for 23 yards, one defensive penalty made this red zone stand twice as long as it should have been and Milwaukee held Lauduski to throw five incomplete passes and turned the ball over on downs.
Milwaukee capitalized on the energy from the crowd of just over 5,000 as Guidugli went 2-2 with a 19 yard touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Victor Williams, giving Milwaukee the lead 42-35.
Iowa scored their only points of the third quarter on their next drive bringing the game back to a tie at 42.
Mykel Benson scored next for Milwaukee with a 4 yard rush giving Milwaukee the lead again 49-42.
On the first play of the next drive Iowa quarterback Lauduski fumbled the ball which was recovered by Mustangs Marcus Everett and returned for a touchdown, extending Milwaukee's lead 56-42.
Iowa struck quickly to try to stay in the game with a three play drive which ended with a 8 yard pass to Jesse Schmidt for his third and final touchdown of the game bringing the Barnstormers within seven with the score now 56-49.
On their next drive Milwaukee tried to mix things up with a flea flicker that was unsuccessful as Dwayne Eley Jr. could not connect with James Economou. On the next play however, Guidugli threw a 22 yard touchdown to Ernest Smith extending Milwaukee's lead 63-49.
Iowa drove strong with their next possession only to have Lauduski fumble the ball, recover his fumble only to get the ball stripped by Lefall. Lefall was able to recover the ball that he stripped. "I basically just took it from him." Lefall said of the strip, "I knew all game that if we could get to him we could just take the ball from him."
Milwaukee was quick to capitalize on this turnover and scored on their first play of the drive on a 24 yard pass to Ernest Smith. Milwaukee was beginning to run away with the game now with a 70-49 lead.
Marcus Everett earned his second touchdown of the night when he made a pick six on a Lauduski pass from the three yard line sealing the victory for Milwaukee at 77-49 with under a minute to play. Tensions grew and a fight ensued. There was a late hit call on Barnstormer Rodney Filer and an unsportsmanlike conduct call and an ejection for throwing a punch on Mustang Jason Jones.
When the defense is in sync, things just seemed to go Milwaukee's way as the third defensive score of the quarter and the fourth defensive score of the game was made by a pick 6 by Justin Lawrence. This final score gave Milwaukee the win at 83-49.
Offense - B+
There was nothing extraordinary in this game. The offense had a solid effort. They should thank their defense for the victory in this game.
Defense - A-
Four defensive scores should say enough. This is only an A- and not an A+ because the defense did not truly show up until the second half. Had they shown up at the beginning of the game the Barnstormers would never have been in this game.
Special Teams - B-
Two missed extra points should have this grade much lower, but Dwayne Lefall's touchdown off the post brought this grade up quite a bit.