The Nebraska opened up the 2018 season with the Cedar Rapids Titans coming to the Heartland Events Center. Nebraska walked away with hard fought victory 44-31.
The first quarter got going with some big defensive plays as the Danger’s Xzavie Jackson sacked Cedar Rapids quarterback Jake Medlock. Two plays later, the Titans missed a field goal that the Danger returned to their own 17 yard-line. Danger quarterback Damien Fleming set up the Danger touchdown with 28-yard run. From there, running back Angelo Pease put the ball in the end zone with 11:49 left in the first quarter to give Nebraska the 7-0 lead. Cedar Rapids got a score of their own, but missed the point after attempt leaving the Danger in the lead 7-6. The quarter ended after the Danger defense stepped up again and forced a safety to extend the lead to 9-6.
After the safety, Nebraska’s ensuing drive resulted in yet another touchdown extending the Danger lead to 16-6. The Titans did not go away however. A 34-yard kickoff return seemed to set them up well to get back into striking distance of the Danger but Nebraska’s defense forced the Titans into a 4th and long after a two-yard loss. A penalty on the Danger quickly turned that into a first down. Cedar Rapids however, was not able to convert the penalty and excellent field position into points when they turned the ball over on downs with 9:42 left in the half. The half ended with a string of scoring plays in the final two minutes. The Danger were able to take the turnover on downs and score a touchdown creating a 17 point lead. Cedar Rapids would then go on a nearly four minute drive scoring with 12.6 seconds left in the quarter. Nebraska fumbled the following kickoff to give Cedar Rapids a chance to score again before the half and they did with 4.2 seconds left, leaving the Danger with a one point lead heading into the locker room.
“I thought our team came to play in the first half. The defense, especially Xzavie, showed that we can stiffen up when we need to. It would have been nice to end the half a little cleaner but turnovers always put you in a bad position. I give credit to Cedar Rapids for taking advantage of that,” said head coach Mark Stoute.
Nebraska’s luck did not improve to start the third quarter, as the Titans got a rouge point, tying the game at 23. The Danger offense then took control putting their own long drive with a heavy dose of the running game, courtesy of Danger running back Pease. Nebraska quarterback Fleming took the ball in for the touchdown himself to cap the drive and give them an eight point lead, 30-22. The Titans were able to move the ball pretty effectively before the Nebraska defense again stiffened and forced a field goal with just under five minutes left in the half. The run game continued to be the strong suit for the Danger offense as Pease and Fleming kept the ball moving. Fleming scored yet another rushing touchdown and at this point in the game had two rushing scores and one through the air. The third quarter ended with the Danger having a 12 point lead, 37-25.
Cedar Rapids continued their pursuit of the Danger at the beginning of the fourth quarter turning a quick shovel pass from Medlock into a first down, extending their drive. Four plays later the Danger D forced yet another turnover on downs with just under 13 minutes left in the game. Nebraska would come away scoreless on the next drive as kicker Brad Hatfield’s kick was no good. By rule the play resulted in a turnover on downs with Cedar Rapids taking over at their own 20-yard line. Titans quarterback Medlock put together a make or break run on third down to give Cedar Rapids a first and goal. However, a personal foul backed up the Titans to the 20-yard line. The distance was too much to overcome as they turned over the ball three plays later. Nebraska looked to run down the clock with the run game, which seemed to the recipe for success all night. Nebraska would score with another touchdown when Fleming found Gregory Dent Jr. wide open in the back of the endzone for a touchdown with 2:52 left in the game making the score 44-25. Cedar Rapids would get the ball back and be able to score but recover the ensuing onside kick. The Danger took over with 27 seconds left and a 13 point lead. The Danger would take a knee to end the game and get the victory 44-31.
“This was a good game for us. We came out and played solid defense and pretty much did what we wanted on offense. There are certainly some things to work on but we will get back to work tomorrow and be ready for the Blizzard in two weeks,” said Stoute.
The Danger next play on March 11 at the Heartland Events Center against the Green Bay Blizzard.