SIOUX CITY -- For the second straight week, the Sioux City Bandits lost in heartbreaking fashion.
A week ago, Amarillo came back from two scores down and took the lead with 15 seconds left. The Bandits lost when the game-winning field goal missed as time ran out.
On Saturday, the Bandits seemed to avoid losing in the final seconds to Salina this time around when Henry Livingston picked off Andrew Jackson’s pass to the end zone, giving Sioux City the ball with 12 seconds left at the 5-yard line in the tie game.
But on the next play, Bandits quarterback Dillon Turner was sacked in the end zone for a safety and that led to a 51-49 win for Salina at the Tyson Events Center.
The second-straight loss in the final seconds of the game dropped the Bandits to 1-3 overall.
“We have to figure out a way to win these games,” Bandits coach Erv Strohbeen said. “There’s times where you have to learn to win. Winners win, that’s what it is. When it comes down to game time, last-second plays, winners win. That’s all I can say about that.”
It Turner’s second week on the team and he was 13-of-18 passing for 125 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t throw an interception.
But Turner made a crucial mistake on the Bandits final offensive play of the game. With the ball on the 5-yard line, Turner dropped back to pass and was in the end zone. Protection broke down but Turner didn’t get rid of the ball and was sacked for the safety with six seconds left in the game.
“You can’t take a sack there,” Strohbeen said. “I doubt he saw the guy coming but that was a long time to hold it. We have to give him more protection but gotta get rid of it in that aspect. I have to see the film with what was going on there.”
Strohbeen said maybe the team should’ve played for overtime, but it would’ve been hard to with where the ball was placed, making taking a knee difficult. Plus the Bandits had a couple of timeouts to use to try and get in field goal position or to take a shot at the end zone.
“We are going to be aggressive and try to get in field goal range every time,” Strohbeen said. “We thought we had a good play call. It didn’t work out.”
The safety came after Livingston laid out to intercept Jackson’s pass. If Jackson completed the pass, it would’ve been for the go-ahead touchdown with 12 seconds left in the game. But Livingston jumped up to get the interception and landed at the 5-yard line.
“Huge play. The defense came up big in the second half,” Strohbeen said. “We were down 1-0 in the turnover battle at the half and I told the guys that they have to get us one because we can’t lose the turnover battle to a good team. They came out and got us two. It just didn’t pan out for us.
Salina improved to 3-2 with the win and are second in the Northern Division now, just behind the 3-1 Omaha Beef. Wichita is in third at 2-3 and Sioux City is in last at 1-3 in the Northern Division.
Salina opened the scoring when Rashad Pargo hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jackson.
Sioux City got on the board when Daryl Virgies scored on a 5-yard run. For the second straight week, Virgies had five touchdowns. He finished with 71 on 17 carries.
Jimmy Allen hit a 28-yard field goal early in the second quarter and the Bandits followed by taking their first lead of the game when Virgies scored on a 1-yard run to go up 13-10.
Salina scored on Jackson’s 1-yard run and Virgies scored 1:30 later on a 4-yard run for a 20-17 lead.
Jackson scored on another 1-yard run with 25 seconds left in the first half for a 24-20 lead. The Bandits did get a 25-yard field goal from Braden Meints as time ran out to make it 24-23 going into halftime.
Salina added to its lead when Pargo caught a 38-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Meints hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Turner but Salina stayed ahead with a 1-yard touchdown run by Tracy Brooks.
Virgies scored on a 4-yard run and Salina got a 35-yard field goal with 4:28 left in the third quarter for a 41-35 lead.
Sioux City took the lead early in the fourth quarter when Turner scored on a 1-yard run. Meints made the extra point for a 42-41 lead. The Bandits added to the lead on Virgies’ 6-yard run to go up 49-41 with 7:25 remaining.
Salina tied the game with 4:35 remaining when Jackson hit Anthony Jones on a 23-yard pass that he caught just before going over the wall.
Salina then got the safety with six seconds left to win the game.