IFL Playoffs: Barracudas go Wild on Alaska

Herald/JOHN A. BOWERSMITH - CenTex Barracuda defender Roderick Knight runs back an intercepted Alaska Wild pass for a touchdown in the first quarter of their first-round IFL playoff game at the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday night.

By Kevin Posival

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON – For the second time this season, the Barracudas' defense went wild on Alaska and for the first time in team history, the Barracudas (9-6) won a playoff game.

Starting with the first play, CenTex (9-6) put the pressure on Alaska, which was making its first-ever playoff appearance, and never let up until the clock read zeros and the Barracudas' had won 71-18, setting up a second-round game in Corpus Christi on July 19 against the second-seeded Hammerheads.

"(Alaska) only brought 18 players," said first-year CenTex coach Chris Duliban. "I thought we could wear them down. I think (our defense) smelled blood early."

Wild starting quarterback Darnell Lovett was sacked three times, hurried eight times and threw three interceptions in the first half alone. Greg Brown intercepted Lovett's first pass of the game and CenTex scored the opening points when David Banks bullied his way into the endz one from 2 yards out.

Banks ran for a couple of touchdowns and caught one, James Brown threw five touchdowns, Olan Coleman caught three and the Barracudas secondary scored on a pair of interception returns as both offense and defense capitalized on the dominating lines up front.

"We think we have the best defense in the league," said Roderick Knight, who scored on an interception and a missed field goal. "Defensively, what we try to do is beat up the star player of their team, let him know we're coming after him."

While the defense forced seven turnovers, the CenTex offense went to work disecting the Alaska defense for 171 yards, 143 in the air.

"It's been three weeks since we played, everybody was chomping at the bit to get back out there," Duliban said. "It's been a month since we played here and the team was excited to be back in front of the home crowd. We were happy with the win, happy to move on and we're going to hit Corpus on Monday."

The Hammerheads, who ended the Barracudas' inaugural playoff run in 2006, had a bye for the first round and will be three weeks removed from their last regular season game, and a month since they beat CenTex 70-54 on June 21.

The last time CenTex played in the Expo Center, the Barracudas upset Corpus 70-60 two weeks after beating Alaska 54-7 in much the same fashion.

"We wanted to rattle them early and pressure them early so that we could finish this thing," Duliban said.

After Banks' first score, Knight returned a missed field goal 32 yards and Brown threw his first touchdown pass, a 17-yarder to Coleman, to give the Barracudas a 21-0 lead.

Alaska (5-10) scored its first points when Lovett completed a 12-yard desperation touchdown toss to Lavone Nelson trying to avoid another sack with just over a minute to play in the first half.

Banks answered on a 9-yard scoring pass from Brown with 48 seconds left and Greg Brown returned his second pick 22 yards for another score 17 seconds later. But Lovett answered with six seconds left with a 6-yard pass to Nian Taylor, but CenTex still had the momentum and the lead going in at half up 42-12.

"We won big because both of our lines handled the line of scrimmage," Duliban said. "(The win) got us back in the flow. It's been three weeks, we needed that full-game experience."

Coleman caught two more touchdowns in the third quarter, Reggie Brown caught one and Rolandus Johnson returned the Barracudas' second pick for a score with just over five minutes left in the game.

Contact Kevin Posival at kposival@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7562.

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