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