The Bismarck Bucks played their first home game of the season Friday night and despite a great game and a valiant effort, the Bucks came up short.

A very respectable crowd filled up the Bismarck Event Center with most of the seats filled in on the side sections with the exception of the very top rows. Most of the lower rows behind the endzones were also filled.

Head Coach Rich Davis loved playing in front of the home crowd.

"You know it was awesome. Fans showed up. Really great crowd," Davis said after the game. "To be honest with you, after all the work we’ve put in, I was just thankful they were here. It’s an emotional journey to start a franchise from nothing and I appreciated them."

The Bucks took on the Sioux City Bandits, the same team they played on the road in week one. Bismarck lost by 40 the first time around but the Bandits were far more experienced.

It was a much different story this time around with the Bucks having a few games under their belt and playing at home.

Things got off to a slow start for the Bucks. What really hurt them was an early injury to starting quarterback Johnathan Bane. This forced wide receiver Elby Pope to take over at the quarterback position for the rest of the game.

According to head coach Rich Davis, Bane got banged up a bit last week against West Michigan and then aggravated his ribs Friday night.

"We feel very confident he’ll be back next week but it wasn’t worth the risk this week," Davis said of Bane after the game.

But things looked up right at the end of the first half when LaKeith Murray made this spectacular interception over the wall as time expired.


The Bucks trailed 17-10 at the half.

Then at the beginning of the third quarter, the Bandits started with the ball but Bismarck made a great defensive stop. The Bandits then attempted a long field goal from the back of their own end zone.

This turned out to be a huge turning point for the Bucks.

The field goal attempt was blocked and Michael Thompson returned the kick for a TD. Unfortunately, the Bucks missed the extra point and the Bandits maintained a 17-16 lead.

The Bandits went ahead and scored a pair of field goals which extended their lead to 23-16.

Down by just one score late in the fourth quarter, the Bandits had a golden opportunity to tie the game following good field position. The good field position was due to yet another blocked field goal by the Bucks.

A pass attempt from Elby Pope to Lance Lewis gave fans a whirlwind of emotions which we will happily recreate below:

First, you'll notice Lance Lewis (No. 1) tracking the ball in the back of the endzone against the Bandits' Clifford Stokes (No. 5).


Then Lewis makes the leap for the ball.


You'll notice Lewis has the ball in his grasp as he makes his way over top of the wall.


As Lewis makes contact with the wall with his rear end, he appears to still have possession of the ball. 


As Lewis ultimately falls over the wall, you will notice the ball is now floating in the air, no longer in his grasp.


And as you see here, the back judge who was right on top of the play calls the pass incomplete. 


Shortly after that, the Bandits marched down the field and the Bandits' Frederick Bruno marched into the endzone to essentially seal the game.


Down 30-16 with less than two minutes left, the Bandits tried to make the game more respectable but an interception all but ended things for Bismarck.


The Bucks fell to 1-2 but Rich Davis is happy with the way his team is progressing.

"We’re gonna be a good football team. It’s unfortunate. If Bane’s not hurt, we beat them badly. We run up and leave them," Davis said. "It’s unfortunate but our defense played phenomenal and the offense battled. We stayed in it so what I think is we’re getting better and we’re gonna be there in the end."

The Bucks fell 30-16 and fall to 1-2 on the season. Bismarck is on the road in Bloomington next week before returning to the Bismarck Event Center on April 1 to play a rematch against the West Michigan Ironmen.