Miscues, mistakes bury Vigilantes
DALLAS -- The Vigilantes were able to cut the Iowa lead to six points before the half Friday night, but a kick return on the second-half kickoff broke Dallas' back and handed the Vigilantes their ninth straight loss, 59-38.
"We didn't play with a lot of passion or a lot of fire," said Vigilantes Head Coach James Fuller.
Dallas got off to a hot start after receiver Kenny Henderson got free for a long reception when the Barnstormers defensive back fell down on the first play of the game. Vigilante quarterback Collin Drafts connected with Derek Lee on a post route on the following play to put Dallas up 7-0.
Henderson led all Dallas receivers with 79 yards and a score.
Iowa came right back on the next possession with a 39-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Ryan Vena that his receiver ripped away from the defender in the end zone to tie the game.
The Vigilante offense caught a break with a late hit on third-and-goal to give them a fresh set of downs before running it in from a yard out to retake the lead.
Dallas had a chance to break the game open after a Will Pettis interception, but the offensive line offered no protection to Drafts on the next possession and the Barnstormers buried the quarterback on a safety to make the score 14-9.
Drafts, who finished 20-40 with 220 yards, two touchdowns and three picks, said the safety was the result of miscommunication on the offensive line.
Vena reclaimed the lead for Iowa on a long pass to Jesse Schmidt, and wouldn't relinquish it for the remainder of the game.
The lead was 23-14 with seconds remaining in the half before kicker Mark Lewis hit his longest field goal of the season, a 44-yarder, to bring the Vigilantes within a touchdown.
On the second half kickoff, Iowa receiver Larry Kendrick caught the ball five yards deep and it appeared Dallas had him dead-to-rights at his own 15 before he reversed field and blew past the remaining Vigilantes on the way to the end zone, putting the Barnstormers up 31-17.
"From my point of view, it looked like everybody was trying to hold him up to get the ball out," said Vigilantes defensive back Jason Harmon. "He squeezed out of there. That's just some carelessness on our part."
Dallas was unable to get within two scores for the last two quarters, losing more ground to Iowa after a Drafts interception led to another Barnstormer score.
The teams traded scores down the stretch before Dallas resorted to onside kicks starting with eight and a half minutes in the fourth, allowing Iowa to build on the blowout.
It was another disappointing night for the Vigilantes. After the game, Fuller said the kick return was the turning point in the game, but said his team could've fought back from it.
"We have a tough time handling situations that don't favor us," Fuller said.
Drafts was feeling the weight of the losing streak on his shoulders after the game.
"What can you say?" Drafts said. "It's hard. I'm out there giving it my all, but I didn't perform the way I needed to."
Josh Davis is an ESPNDallas.com intern and a writer for TCU's student newspaper, the Daily Skiff.