On the bright side, the Bloomington Edge racked up 79 points with huge games from running back Darrelynn Dunn and quarterback Caleb Holbrook in last week’s regular-season finale at Bismarck.
“All those touchdowns, they were all offensive touchdowns. It’s a good confidence boost,” said Holbrook.
But a defensive unit that had been ranked No. 2 in Champions Indoor Football surrendered a season-high 78 points and the Edge dodged a third straight loss when Bismarck missed a field goal in the final seconds.
Defensive lineman Marvin Booker suggested a simple solution.
“We’ve just got to get better, communication (and) details,” said Booker, who had two sacks in the victory to raise his season total to five.
“We had some new bodies on defense and naturally there’s going to be some mistakes and miscommunication,” added coach Ameer Ismail, whose third-seeded Edge open the North Division playoffs against the Omaha Beef with a 7:05 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Ralston Arena. “But we’re going to correct them and get it fixed, hopefully put it all together this weekend.”
Those “new bodies” included three defensive backs who had big impacts despite the defense’s struggles. Jason Simpson had a team-high eight tackles, Fred Griggs had one official interception and another negated by a penalty, and Marquis Drayton denied Bismarck’s late two-point conversion try to protect the lead.
“It raises some concerns on giving up that many points,” said Ismail. “But it allows us to reflect on the things we did wrong and correct those mistakes before we play this weekend.”
Bloomington’s scoring outburst produced a pair of league accolades as Dunn was named the offensive player of the week while kicker Cody Barber claimed the special teams honor.
“Really I was just trying to trust my preparation and go into the game and trying to put my best foot forward, stay focused,” said Dunn, who ran for five touchdowns and caught one of Holbrook’s six scoring passes. “I had a good warmup, a good groove and the coaches gave me the opportunity to get into a good rhythm. The offensive line had a great day, too.”
Barber had his best game of the year, making 10 of 11 extra-point kicks to go with a 37-yard field goal.
“Everything was going perfect from the snaps to the holds. It made my job a lot easier out there, just putting it right through,” he said.
“He struggled the two games before and I kind of challenged him, brought in someone to potentially take his spot,” said Ismail. “He took the challenge and responded well.”
The Edge and Beef both finished the regular-season 7-5, with Omaha suffering a 62-55 loss at Dallas last week. The Beef won this season’s only meeting, escaping the Coliseum with a 55-50 victory as Bloomington’s rally from a 41-16 third-quarter deficit fell short.
“We didn’t play our best football that game; that’s not an excuse, they got the win that day. But I think if we clean up a lot of our mistakes we’ll be in position to have success,” said Dunn, pointing to 12 fumbled snaps in the first half.
“We take those away, I think we win that game,” added Holbrook. “As an offense we’re really confident going into this game.”
Follow Joe Deacon on Twitter: @pg_deacon