The Tucson Sugar Skulls inaugural season came to an end on the road Sunday when it fell, 50-47, to the Sioux Falls Storm in a first-round Indoor Football League playoff game.
It was a game that had seven lead changes, but the Storm, the No. 3 seed in the IFL, pulled out the victory on the strength of back-to-back scores in the decisive third quarter when they took a lead they never relinquished.
Trailing by nine points late in the fourth quarter, the Sugar Skulls got within striking distance, down three points, when relief quarterback Matt Behrendt ran the ball in from the 2-yard line.
There was 1:16 left on the clock. An onside kick failed, and the Storm was able to run out the clock. The Sugar Skulls end their season despite putting up their second-highest offensive output of the year with 311 total yards. Quarterback Jake Medlock got the start and was an efficient 22 of 25 passing for 271 yards, also a season high. He threw six touchdown passes.
“I thought we played well,” said Head Coach Marcus Coleman. “When you’re playing a team like Sioux Falls and playing in their building, it’s always going to be a tough, tight game.
“We just didn’t make enough plays when it counted,” Coleman said. “Give them credit. They made plays when it counted.”
Tucson finishes its first season with a 7-8 overall record after finishing at .500 in the regular season, good for a tie for fifth place in the IFL with the Nebraska Danger. The Sugar Skulls were
the No. 6 seed in the playoffs because of a regular-season loss to the Danger.
“For the most part, we had a successful season being it was the first year, building it from the ground up, and making it to the playoffs,” Coleman said. “We’ve really got a lot to build on. The foundation has been set.
“I know we finished 7-7 but we made the playoffs,” Coleman added. “We’re the first team to do that as an expansion team. That’s the foundation. Now the guys that come back and the new guys that come in know what the expectation is. The expectation is to make the playoffs again and trying to make a deeper run.”