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The Wichita Force entered Saturday night’s contest looking to get off to a better start than they had in their previous two contests. That did not prove to be the case, as the Omaha Beef produced touchdowns on each of their first three drives on their way to a 70-33 victory. Quarterback Derrick Bernard threw for six touchdowns to lead the Beef and the Omaha defense generated four turnovers. Emmanuel Young tossed two touchdown passes for Wichita.
The Force defense had allowed scores on the first three drives in each of their last two games and that would be the case in this contest as well. Omaha received the opening kickoff and would score on the first play of the drive when Bernard connected with Calvin Phillips for a 24 yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
The first possession for Wichita lasted just three plays, forcing a field goal attempt. Jordan Drake’s was blocked and recovered in the end zone by the Force for a safety. That increased the Omaha lead to nine.
The Beef would get right back on the board when Phillips returned the ensuing free kick 25 yards for the score. The extra point was no good, but Omaha would be back in the end zone on their next possession when Javon Bell hauled in a Bernard pass for a 24 yard score to make it 22-0.
The Force produced just six plays to their first two drives, but they would move the ball on their third possession. Mikhail Lindsay gained 20 total yards on his first three carries of the drive, helping to move the team into the red zone. On the ninth play of the drive, Lindsay made a nice move before reaching the end zone for the 3 yard score. That made it 22-7.
The defense would finally force a field-goal attempt by Omaha on the next possession for the Beef. Ezequiel Arevalo missed the 56 yard attempt, but Drake would connect on a 17 yard field goal to cut the deficit to 12.
The Wichita defense would step up once again, forcing a turnover on downs on the next possession. Yeager took over at the quarterback position, leading the team on a seven play drive that eventually resulted in a Drake 30 yard field goal. Suddenly, the Force were within nine.
After being stopped on their previous two possessions, the Beef would get back on the board on a 19 yard touchdown strike to Donovan Raspberry. Omaha would extend their lead to 23 when Yeager kept the ball and was tackled for a 5 yard loss, fumbling the ball. Dezmin Reed recovered the ball and scored to make it 36-13. That would be the score at the half.
Looking for a spark, Gary Jolivet, Jr. gave his team a big play coming out of the half, as he returned the kickoff 47 yards for the touchdown. That moved Wichita back within 16, but Bernard would make quick work of the next drive, finding Bell for a 17 yard score to extend the lead back to 23.
Omaha would score on their next possession as well, as Kayne Farquharson hauled in the 8 yard touchdown grab, and Antonio Bray would score from 8 yards out for the Beef to move the lead to 36. The defense would extend the lead to 43 when Taylor Hawkins intercepted a Joe Hubener pass, returning it 39 yards for the touchdown and this game was all but over.
Yeager returned to the field and would lead Wichita on a scoring drive that cut the deficit to 37. The quarterback opened the drive with a 27 yard completion to wide receiver Jack Tomlinson, completing his first three passes on the possession, which moved the ball to the Omaha 10. Three incompletions made it look like the team would come away empty-handed, but Yeager found Lindsay for a 10 yard score to make it 63-26.
Bernard and the Beef answered, as the quarterback led his team on an eight play drive that eventually resulted in a touchdown when Bernard completed his sixth touchdown pass of the game, this time to Bray for 6 yards.
Wichita would add one more score just before the end of regulation. Yeager remained in the contest, leading an eight play drive that led the team to the Omaha 6 yard line. On the next play, Yeager found Jolivet in the back of the end zone for his second touchdown toss of the game, closing out the scoring at 70-33.
Bernard finished 15 of 26 for 191 yards and 6 touchdowns. Bell had 6 catches for 101 yards and 2 TDs. Taylor Hawkins had a huge day on defense, leading Omaha in tackles with eight, plus he had two interceptions.
Gary Jolivet, Jr. had a big day for Wichita. He made 6 catches for 44 yards and a TD, plus had 4 returns for 100 yards and another score. Yeager finished 10 of 21 passing for 101 yards and 2 TDs.The Wichita Force have their first bye week coming up. They then travel to Sioux Falls to take on the Bandits on Saturday, June 1. Their next home contest is against the Salina Liberty on June 9. You can purchase your tickets by visiting https://www.wichitaforce.com/schedule.html.
By Robert Pannier
Minor League Sports Report