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BISMARCK, North Dakota – With the Tucson Sugar Skulls’ playoff future hanging in the balance, quarterback Matt Behrendt made a relief appearance and rallied the Skulls’ to their third straight victory, 52-40, over the Bismarck Bucks.  

Combined with a last-second Nebraska Danger loss to the Sioux Falls Storm, the Sugar Skulls’ victory put them in sole possession of fifth place in the IFL with a 6-5 record. The top six teams make the playoffs.

“We knew it was going to be tough to come in here and play,” said Head Coach Marcus Coleman.  “Bismarck has been playing teams tough all year. It was just a matter of us finishing a game which I thought we did.

“We showed a lot of mental toughness and made the plays we needed to make to seal the game,” Coleman said. “From a character standpoint, it was one of those team-building moments where we came together and finished the ball game.”  Behrendt, who has split starting duties with Jake Medlock, entered the game early in the fourth quarter after the Bucks took a 37-35 lead on a field goal set up by a Tucson fumble, the Sugar Skulls’ only turnover of the game.

Behrendt drove the Sugar Skulls 38 yards in five plays to regain the lead, 42-37, scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard run. The teams then traded field goals leading to a dramatic finish.  With Tucson holding a 45-40 lead, the Sugar Skulls lined up to kick off after their field goal with 57 seconds left in the game. The kick by Josh Gable hit directly at the feet of a Bucks return man, bounced away, and Mike Jones recovered for the Sugar Skulls.

But there was more drama left. The Sugar Skulls were trying to run out the clock and were facing third down and 14 with 40 seconds left after being set back by a 15-yard penalty. Behrendt lined up under center, faked a handoff to Jones and found wide receiver Jeremiah Harris in the end zone from 30 yards away for the game-clinching touchdown.

“We knew what they were expecting so we dialed up that play and it was a great throw and catch,” Coleman said. “Sometimes you’ve got to make those calls and seal the game. That was the moment that showed us the team got mentally tougher tonight.”  

The Sugar Skulls return home to face the unbeaten Arizona Rattlers on Saturday, May 25, for the first of back-to-back meetings split by an off week. Kickoff is 6 p.m. at Tucson Arena. It will be Military and First Responders Appreciation Night. The first 2,000 fans at the game will also receive a Sugar Skulls Rally Towel sponsored by Farhang & Medcoff. Gates will open at 5 p.m.

Notes & Numbers

  • The two-headed quarterback of Medlock and Behrendt was an efficient 12 of 18 passing for 162The two-headed quarterback of Medlock and Behrendt was an efficient 12 of 18 passing for 162yards and five touchdowns. Medlock had four of the TD tosses, all in the first half, bringing his season total to 26.
  • Harris joined the Sugar Skulls for their May 4 game against San Diego and made an immediate impact on kick returns. However, his big contribution against the Bucks came at wide receiver where he caught two touchdown passes, both in clutch situations. His first TD catch came with14 seconds left in the first half, on a 7-yard toss from Medlock. His second was the 30-yarder from Behrendt with 31 seconds left in the game.
  • Jones rushed for 59 yards and scored two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. He entered the game leading the league averaging 60 yards rushing per game. He also had 51yards receiving.

Post Game Notes

2019 Sugar Skulls Post Game Notes   Game 11   Bismarck Page 01


TUCSON, Arizona – The Tucson Sugar Skulls take their quest for an IFL playoff berth to Bismarck on Saturday, looking for their third straight victory to hold their spot in the standings.

Tucson is coming off back-to-back victories over the San Diego Strike Force over a five-day stretch and take their longest road trip since visiting the Quad City Steamwheelers on April 20.

Since going through a four-game losing streak in April, Head Coach Marcus Coleman has taken the approach of calling each game a one-game season as the Sugar Skulls try to make the playoffs in their inaugural season. Tucson is 1-0 and 1-0 in those two seasons and sits in a tie for fifth place. The top six teams make the playoffs with the first- and second-place teams earning a first-round bye.

Tucson has a two-game lead over Quad City with four games to play. The Steamwheelers defeated the Sugar Skulls in their first meeting. The two teams face off again in Tucson in the season finale June 15.

The Sugar Skulls were tested in the fourth and final meeting with their expansion partner, the Strike Force, on May 9 in San Diego. It was a still a three-point game early in the fourth quarter when defensive lineman Robert Metz pressured quarterback Jihad Vercher and deflected a pass that defensive lineman Rayshawn Henderson intercepted with a diving catch. Henderson was named IFL Defensive Player of the Week for the game that also included five tackles and a sack.

Tucson and Bismarck will be meeting for the second time. The Sugar Skulls won the first matchup, 62-42, in the team’s home opener on March 10. In that game, quarterback Matt Behrendt threw eight touchdown pass and was named IFL Offensive Player of the Week. Behrendt has been sharing quarterback duties with Jake Medlock and finished up the last week’s victory over the Strike Force throwing three TD passes after Medlock took a hard hit on a sack in the third quarter.

Notes & Numbers

  • After a week off to nurse a minor injury, running back Mike Jones returned to the lineup last week and put up more than 100 yards in total offense, 50 yards rushing and 52 receiving. He scored three touchdowns giving him 19 on the season. He leads the IFL with an average of 60 yards rushing per game. His 16 rushing touchdowns put him fourth in the league.
  • Quarterback Jake Medlock joined the league leaders for touchdown passes after throwing two at San Diego. He has 22 on the season good for fifth place in the IFL.
  • With two fumble recoveries and an interception against San Diego, the Sugar Skulls evened their turnover margin at zero. The three turnovers against the Strike Force were converted to 21 points in the 65-48 victory. Tucson has eight interceptions and has recovered four fumbles while giving up seven interceptions and five lost fumbles

TUCSON, ARIZONA – Tucson Sugar Skulls defensive lineman Rayshawn Henderson was named the IFL’s Defensive Player of the Week for his key plays in Tucson’s 65-48 victory over the San Diego Strike Force on Saturday.

Henderson had a diving interception of a deflected pass early in the fourth quarter, one of three San Diego turnovers that led to 21 points for the Sugar Skulls. He also had a fourth-quarter sack and was credited with five tackles.

It is the fifth Player of the Week award for the Sugar Skulls this season.

Defensive back and kick returner Dee Maggitt Jr. has won it twice, once for special teams and once for defense. Quarterback Matt Behrendt won the award for offense, and placekicker Diego Marquez won it for special teams.

The Sugar Skulls visit the Bismarck Bucks this Saturday for a key game in their quest for a playoff berth in their inaugural season. Kickoff is 4 p.m. Tucson time. The Sugar Skulls are tied for fifth place with a two-game lead over the Quad City Steamwheelers. Six teams earn berths in the IFL playoffs.

In the closest matchup between the two Indoor Football League expansion teams this year, the Tucson Sugar Skulls took down the San Diego Strike Force 65-48 Thursday night on the road at Pechanga Arena to complete the four-game season sweep.

Tucson's latest win over San Diego comes five days after the Sugar Skulls routed the Strike Force at Tucson Arena on Saturday night.

After injuring his foot and missing most of the second half last weekend, quarterback Jake Medlock started under center and completed 8 of 9 passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game late in the second quarter with an unspecified injury. Matt Behrendt entered for Tucson to score four touchdowns on 9 of 11 passing and rush for 48 yards.

Sugar Skulls running back Mike Jones returned to the lineup after he was placed on the injured reserve list last week. He rushed for a game-high 50 yards and two touchdowns, and he was one of four Sugar Skulls to catch a touchdown.

The Sugar Skulls forced three turnovers; defensive tackle Rayshawn Henderson dove for an interception, and defensive back Micah Eugene and Keith Jones Jr. each had a fumble recovery. Tucson scored 21 points off the three turnovers despite allowing San Diego to post 254 yards of total offense, which is the most Tucson has given up to San Diego all season.

Tucson now holds a two-game lead over the Quad City Steamwheelers for sixth place in the IFL standings. Up next, the Sugar Skulls will play the Bismarck Bucks on the road on May 18 at 4 p.m.

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