Koyotes rumble past Blackhawks

Richard Kelly

The Kansas Koyotes are going into the American Professional Football League playoffs with plenty of confidence after their performance Saturday night.

Trailing 34-28 to the Iowa Blackhawks at halftime, Kansas (5-6) rattled off 23 points and did not allow a single point in the second half as they defeated the Blackhawks 51-34 at Landon Arena.

“I told the guys at halftime that the more physical team is going to win this game,” said Troy Biladeau, Koyotes head coach. “And in the second half, I thought we were that team.”

A large component of the Koyotes’ success came through the perserverance of quarter Carlos Kelly, who battled through an ankle injury after a hit in the early portion of the second quarter. According to Kelly, the trouble began the previous week during the Koyotes 75-6 victory over the Kansas City Matadors.

“Last week against the Matadors, about the third play from scrimmage, a guy came from behind and just wrapped me up,” said Kelly. “He late hit me and grabbed my ankle.”

 While the swelling had gone down by Thursday, according to Kelly, the Saturday hit re-aggravated the injury, causing him to play with a limp much of the game.

“I’ve sprained by ankle so many times that I know how to play with it,” said Kelly.¬† “As a quarterback, I can kind of get around with one leg. I don’t have to get down field and make a break like a receiver. I know I have to be a leader, so I just had to keep getting up and play it off.”

Kelly went 11-of-23 for 99 yards and one touchdown and two rushing touchdowns in the contest.

During the first half, Iowa grabbed the first touchdown on a 1-yard pass followed by an extra point. Down 7-0, Kansas followed with an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Naji Shinskia. A trick play gave the Koyotes a two-point conversion to put them up 8-7. The teams would trade touchdowns the rest of the half, with Iowa finishing on a 4-yard pass to James Johnikin late in the second quarter.

Propelled by two safeties and an interception in the Koyotes end zone, Kansas shut down the Iowa offense in the second half, allowing only one pass completion.

“I thought we got more pressure and I thought our guys were covering better,” said Biladeau. “It was just a great effort by the defense in the second half.”

The Koyotes will now travel to Sioux City, Iowa to play the Sioux City Bandits in the first round of the APFL playoffs. The Koyotes are looking for their first victory over the Bandits this season, after going winless in their first three opportunities.