(ST. CHARLES, MO) Saturday’s inaugural game at Family Arena for the St. Louis Bandits indoor football franchise had the result that the team had hoped for.
The Bandits, the local rep for the American Arena League (AAL), secured their first triumph with a second-half defensive lock down that held Saturday’s foe to a solo score.
The non-league showdown with the Peoria-based opposition gave the Bandits a good primer as they head to AAL-sanctioned play next Saturday against the Charlotte Thunder.
Overall, St. Louis was patient and poised on both sides of the ball.
After Central Illinois stalled on their opening drive, St. Louis constructed their inaugural scoring flight with a four-play, 30-yard drive that was capped by Bray’s five-year touchdown scamper with 8:10 left in the quarter that gave the Bandits a 6-0 lead.
In the first snap of the second quarter, the Royals broke the shutout with Rashaund Loddell’s 18-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Drew Fendrich at the 14:40 mark that narrowed the score to 12-7 following Tanner Kuhne’s successful PAT kick.
The Bandits answered back with a 40-yard scoring drive, punctuated by Porterie’s nine-yard touchdown pass to Dee Washington at the 13:10 mark. The locals pushed the score to 19-7 following Drew Pearson’s successful kick afterwards.
In the Royals’ next possession, the Fendrich/Londell tandem resulted in another score, a 10-yard strike with 9:45 left in the half that was finished by Kuhne’s kick that sliced the Bandits’ lead to 19-13.
Then in the ensuing kickoff, Kuhne launched a projectile that went all the way to the other end of the field and hit the opposite net between the goal posts, resulting in an additional point collected by the Royals that narrowed the score to 19-14.
Feeling the heat, the Bandits calmly cobbled a five-play, 45-yard scoring drive on their next possession. Wide receiver Cole McDaniel notched his first score of the season via a 15-yard pass from Porterie with 6:10 left in the half. St. Louis pushed the score to 26-15 following Pearson’s successful PAT.
The Bandits’ defense, paced by defensive backs Dominique Patterson, Treavor Pugh, Kelvin Rodgers and a host of others, halted the next Royals’ next drive that resulted in another possession swap.
Bray claimed his third touchdown of the half, a 24-yard pass from Porterie with :18 remaining, that extended the Bandits’ lead to 32-15.
Holding a ten-point differential at intermission, the Bandits knew that they had to pick up the pace in the second half if they wanted to record their first victory.
In the third quarter, the Royals made a push to narrow the game to single digits but an errant snap with 8:04 left in the frame resulted in a fumble that led to a recovery by the Bandits’ Isiah Mathis that kept the score at 32-22.
St. Louis then widened the lead with Washington’s second touchdown catch of the night, a 15-yarder from Porterie with 5:15 left in the quarter. The Bandits’ lead expanded to 39-22 following Pearson’s third successful PAT kick.
The Royals found themselves in a pinch as the quarter progressed and gambled on a 45-yard field goal attempt on fourth down with under two minutes remaining. Kuhne’s kick fell short of the goal posts and landed in the hands of the Bandits’ Rodgers, who was stationed underneath. With live action still in play, Rodgers ran the length of the field and romped into the end zone that extended the locals’ lead to 45-22.
In the fourth quarter, the Bandits collected another pair of touchdowns catches, a three-yard snare by Bray at the 11:18 mark and a ten-yard grab from Levi Shetler with 1:15 left that comfortably padded the lead to 58-30.
St. Louis’ stubborn defense limited Central Illinois to 10 second-half points and put the exclamation point on the evening as defensive end Ralph Harvey Jr. and lineman Chris Gillette combined on a safety on Royals’ back-up quarterback Quinton Fonville in the game’s final minute.
The Bandits outscored the Royals in the second half, 29-8, en route to the 61-30 win.
In passing for the evening, Porterie went 17-30 for 271 yards and seven touchdown passes with no interceptions.
St. Louis next plays the undefeated Charlotte Thunder Saturday and returns to Family Arena for a May 1 game against Pennsylvania Union.
For more information on the Bandits, visit their official website.
ST. LOUIS BANDITS INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
PASSING: Porterie 17-30, 271 Yards, 7 TDS, 0 INT.
RECEIVING: Bray 4-72, 3 TDS, Washington 5-71, 2 TDS, McDaniel 5-66, 1 TD, Chism 2-27, Shetler 1-10, I TD.
RUSHING: Bray 4-21, 1 TD
KICKING: Pearson 4-8 PATs, 1 Kickoff Pt, 5 PTS
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.