Saturday April 27th at York Capitals at 7pm (Live)
Stampede Advance Crush Force 51-12
June 3, 2012
The Harrisburg Stampede hosted the Concord Force Saturday night at the Equine Arena in Pennsylvania in the first round of the American Indoor Football League Playoffs. The Stampede entered the game 6-1 while the Force came in with 4-3 record. In the opening quarter both defenses played great while each offense tried to find their stride.
However, late in the first quarter the Force would strike first when wide receiver CJ Washington caught a 32-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Demarcus Simons to give the Force a 6-0 lead. A failed two point conversion kept the lead at 6-0 and on the ensuing Force possession the Stampede defense would step up and make a big play. Simons threw an errant pass that was caught by Stampede defensive back Richard Johnson and returned 15-yards for a touchdown sending the hometown crowd into a frenzy. The successful extra point gave the Stampede their first lead of the game at 7-6 midway through the second quarter.
The Force looked out of sync all night. Quarterback Demarcus Simons and his receivers were not on the same page, so things got progressively worse for the Force. The Stampede offense lead by E.J. Nemeth started to get the offense going in the second quarter, not with his arm but rather with his legs. He rushed for a two yard touchdown before the half to push the lead to 14-6 then the Stampede special teams blocked a potential field goal attempt in the end zone and tackled wide receiver James McCord for a safety, pushing the lead at halftime to 16-6.
The Stampede defensive line was stout all night. However the Force didn’t help their cause by committing fourteen penalties in the game. “It was impossible to overcome all of our mental mistakes,” remarked Force head coach Kent Merideth. “Our offensive line struggled all night and our quarterback didn’t have a chance to look downfield. That being said I’m proud of my players, anytime you make the playoffs in any league it’s an accomplishment so we will take this as a learning experience and get better next year,” added the first year head coach.
To start the second half it was more of the same for the Force. The Stampede took the third quarter kickoff and marched down the field to score another touchdown to increase their lead to 22-6. Again it was a Nemeth rushing touchdown that broke through the Force defense, this one from a yard out. It would be his first of three second half rushing touchdowns. In fact the Stampede would outscore the Force 35 to 12 in the second half and were really never challenged.
Stampede quarterback E.J. Nemeth rushed for four touchdowns, threw for another and completed 16 out of 29 pass attempts. Coach Bernie Nowotarski knows however that next week against the Cape Fear Heroes they must be more efficient. “I thought the offense was a little out of synch tonight. I feel like we need to get into more of a rhythm, the guys know what’s at stake next week and fortunately we have a few days of practice to get better.”
“It feels good to be moving on; these opportunities are what you play for. I told our team it’s a 180 minute season. We took care of our business tonight and next week is another big challenge. We just need to keep our focus going forward and prepare for a team that put it on us a few weeks ago,” added Nowotarski.
When asked about his defense coach added these thoughts, “Defensively, it’s hard to complain about giving up a mere 12 points.” The Stampede defense was dominating, recording six sacks, recovering two fumbles, forcing three safeties and returning an interception return for a touchdown. The defense was led by Daniel Orlebar who had two sacks, two tackles for a loss, and was harassing Force quarterback Demarcus Simons the entire evening. Simons completed 7 out of 24 passes for a mere 129 yards and two touchdowns and an interception.
The Harrisburg Stampede now advance to play the undefeated Cape Fear Heroes next week in Fayetteville, NC. Just a few weeks ago the Fear forced eight Stampede turnovers in a 57 to 32 victory. The winner next week will earn the right to play in the American Indoor Football League Championship game the following week.This Game will be Live at 7:30pm from Crown Center Arena on Herb FM Sports Radio
Written by Euan McCreath