WEST DES MOINES, IA – The Des Moines Blaze will defend their MFA title after a 34-7 semi-final victory over the Quad City Raiders Saturday night. The Blaze know they have a shot at a third straight Undefeated MFA Championship season; what they don’t know is who they’ll have to play to get it.
The semi-final in Sioux Falls between the hosting Stallions and the Midwest Titans was suspended after two separate of rain delays totaling nearly two hours. The teams will pick up the first quarter action this Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska. As a result the Championship game in Des Moines will be pushed back to August 24th.
“It’s not ideal but from a league standpoint we’re lucky we didn’t face any major hurdles in relocating/rescheduling either of the games,” said Head Coach Tyrone Tyler.
Whoever wins can only hope the extra week off will cool the Blaze down after dominating the Raiders in the first half, taking a 34-0 lead into the locker room before backing off. First Team All-MFA left tackle Frank Lee opened the scoring for the Blaze when a DeMareo Darrah goal line plunge left the ball on the carpet. The big guy covered it up for his first career touchdown.
Quad Cities responded by marching down the field and lining up for a 36-yard field goal before Ben Coleman rejected the attempt. Brandon Howard scooped up the loose ball and returned it for the score.
The second quarter saw Darrah run for a score and toss a 38-yard toucdown to John Romine. Randy Blackford hit J. Heathcote from 25 yards out for the final Blaze score. Darrah finished 13 for 20 for 224 yards. Blackford led all receivers with 85 yards on four catches. Bill Falbo led the ground game with 36 yards on six carries.
The Blaze defense was in attack mode all evening. Tackle Jordan Smith and linebacker Raytron Lamar led the team with six tackles a piece. Smith harassed the quarterback relentlessly while adding three tackles for loss and a sack. Lamar joined Antonio Alexander, Tahaun Fountain, and Freddy Bacon with interceptions. Coleman and Steve Seivert would also find their way to the quarterback for sacks.
Two-time All-MFA quarterback Rob Jones, playing without his two top targets, struggled to avoid pressure and find open receivers all night but offered the play of the game on a dazzling 94-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to prevent a Blaze shutout. Jones would total 136 yards on six carries and another 121 passing, almost exclusively to his backs.
Saturday’s continuation of the MFA semi-final game will set the stage for the league championship at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines at 7 pm on August 24th.