ENID, Okla. — The Wichita Force (1-2) intercepted Oklahoma quarterback Joshua Floyd on Oklahoma’s second-to-last drive of the game to seal a 10-point win and defeat the Flying Aces, 42-32, in their home-opener at Stride Bank Center Saturday night.
The Force erased a 10-point lead to pull ahead of Oklahoma by four points at the start of the fourth quarter and then erased a two-point Flying Aces’ lead with 3:19 left in the game.
Following the game, Oklahoma Flying Aces head coach and team president Richard Davis said he felt a feeling of frustration.
“We worked so hard to put everything out here and make it look good and make our sponsors proud,” he said. “You had a win within your reach for the second week in a row. We could have won the ballgame and we didn’t. We’re 0-2 and could have been 2-0 if we handled business. But we didn’t.”
The Force received the opening kick-off and the Wichita offense scored the first touchdown on an eight-play drive from their own 18-yard line. The Force converted a crucial fourth-and-short to keep the drive alive and five plays later running back Jack Tomlinson rushed for a five-yard touchdown.
The Flying Aces offense, which scored more than 40 points against Omaha in the season-opener, struggled to start the game. After hitting Joshua Stewart for a 15-yard pass to convert a first down, Floyd fumbled a snap and Wichita recovered.
The Flying Aces forced Wichita to attempt a field goal twice on the ensuing drive. The first time the Force tried for three points, the Flying Aces defensive line blocked the field goal. But Wichita fell on the ball 10 yards down the field and was awarded a fresh set of downs. The defense forced three consecutive incomplete passes and Wichita kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
In Week One, Jordan Payne caught just two passes for three yards but caught two red-zone touchdowns from Floyd Saturday night.
Payne’s first touchdown catch came in the second quarter on Oklahoma’s 10-play drive. Floyd evaded the Wichita pass-rush during the drive and completed several passes on the run, one of which was to running back Lawrence Jordan for a 17-yard first-down conversion.
Wichita aided Oklahoma by committing three penalties on the scoring drive, two of which allowed Oklahoma to set up shop inside the four and two-yard line, respectively. Floyd hit Payne for a two-yard pass in the right corner for Oklahoma’s first scoring play.
Floyd later hit Payne for an eight-yard touchdown pass just before halftime to put Oklahoma ahead, 20-10. After Payne’s first touchdown catch, Oklahoma’s defense blocked a field goal attempt and Donovan Logan returned the block for a score to give Oklahoma its first lead.
Payne’s brother, Davonte Payne, was among the 1,326 fans in attendance Saturday night. Payne, a Racine, Wis., native, said his brother drove more than three hours from Texas to watch him play.
“I feel like since he was going to drive all this way, I had to put on a good show,” he said.
Wichita’s comeback started just before halftime as the Force kicked a field goal to cut Oklahoma’s lead to seven points.
Although the Flying Aces received the ball to start the second half, Floyd fumbled the ball mid-throw on a fourth-and-one situation from Oklahoma’s 20 yard-line. Wichita’s defense recovered the ball, fumbled it in the end-zone, but recovered the ball once more to tie the game at 20-20.
Oklahoma’s offense was called for holding on the following drive, which put them 22 yards away from a first down. The Flying Aces later missed a field goal attempt and gave Wichita the ball back. The Force ran five plays before scoring a 19-yard touchdown pass from Joe Huebner and gave Wichita a 27-20 lead.
“We just gave away so many possessions that you just can’t win in this league giving away that many possessions,” Davis said.
Floyd helped cut the lead to one point with a two-yard touchdown run just before the end of the third quarter. But Wichita answered with a field goal on the ensuing drive to pull away by four points.
Floyd ran for another two-yard touchdown with less than eight minutes to play to give Oklahoma a 32-30 lead. But Wichita’s offense answered with three consecutive scoring drives.
Davis said he felt grateful for the attending fans and felt the Flying Aces put on a “decent show” and the defense played well in their first home game.
“So, we’re halfway there I guess,” he said. “Hopefully they give us a chance to fix the other half.”
The Flying Aces head to Albuquerque on April 13 to face the Duke City Gladiators.