By: Anthony Miller
After being the top team in the IFL, the Frisco Fighters’ season once again ends in a postseason loss knocking them out of championship contention.
The Frisco Fighters got off to a fast start against Sioux Falls Storm in the first half of the game at one point leading 27-7 late in the second quarter. Four TJ Edwards touchdowns helped the Fighters take a 27-10 halftime lead over the Storm. Things slowly took a turn for the worse as Sioux Falls came back into the game taking a 37-34 lead in the fourth quarter.
With the game tied at 37-37, the Frisco Fighters made one of the biggest plays of the game as Sioux Falls, Lorenzo Brown threw an interception to Kordell Jackson with 52 seconds left in the game. Edwards needed just one play to run five yards for a touchdown to give the Fighters a 44-37 lead. The Storm had 42 seconds to drive the field to score, but only needed 30 seconds as Brown ran in a touchdown and threw the game-winning two-point conversion with 12 seconds left. Edwards threw an interception on the last play of the game to seal Frisco’s fate as they lost to the Storm 45-44.
Edwards finished the game with 219 total yards six total touchdowns and three interceptions in the loss. Jimmy Smith had 94 total yards and two total touchdowns on offense for Frisco. Jackson led the team in tackles with six with two interceptions and one pass breakup as well. The loss eliminates the Fighters from the playoffs as Sioux Falls advances to the championship game to face the Bay Area Panthers in Las Vegas.
What Went Wrong for Frisco Fighters in The Eastern Conference Title Game
It’s hard to put the blame on a guy who has meant more to this franchise than any other player in Fighters history, but three turnovers by Edwards ultimately hurt this team. Not including the last interception on the last play of the fourth quarter, Edwards had interceptions in the first and third quarters that could have led to points for Frisco if they didn’t occur. Again, Edwards had six touchdowns so it’s hard to pin the game on him because he has been so good, but three turnovers are hard to ignore.
Fans will be questioning the end of the game and how it was handled for a while. Frisco had the ball after an interception by the Storm with 52 seconds left in the game. The Fighters could have used this opportunity to hold the ball and kill the clock before trying a field goal to win it. Ultimately, Edwards ran it in for a touchdown and Sioux Falls had time to go down the field and score a touchdown.
The defense can be looked at as well as they needed to step up in the biggest moment of the game and hold the Storm out of the end zone. They weren’t able to and couldn’t prevent the two-point conversion as well which ended up sinking them in the contest. The second-half performance of the defense was not great as after holding the Storm to just ten points in the first half, Frisco’s defense allowed 35 points in the second half.
Ultimately, fans can point the finger at a lot of players and coaches on the team, but the team was competitive all game long. Fans will be disappointed that mistakes were made in the most important game of the season, but there is a lot of talent on this team. Frisco was a great team that was caught on a bad day by a Storm team that has been solid all season.
Looking Back on the 2023 Frisco Fighters Season
Looking at the positives from this season, quarterback TJ Edwards was the star of the team as he finished the regular season with 2,600 passing yards and 39 passing touchdowns as well as rushing for 853 yards and 49 rushing touchdowns. Jerminic Smith was the leading receiver with 923 yards and 14 touchdowns. Returner Charles Headen broke out as a rookie in the league leading the IFL with 1,123 return yards and six touchdowns.
For the defensive side, Charles Williams led the team in sacks with 6.5 sacks on the season. Jackson was tied for the league lead in interceptions with eight in the year. Frisco’s defense was the best in the IFL in points per game allowed with 38.5.
For the third straight season, the Fighters were eliminated in the semi-finals of the IFL playoffs and failed to make the title game. It’s another season where the Fighters had one of the best teams in the league with a 14-3 record and the playoffs were the stopping point for them. When evaluating the season, this is one where Frisco will look back and know they left a lot to be desired. They shouldn’t hang their heads low though as they are close to being a championship team and next year will be the ultimate test should they keep everyone from this season’s team.
Featured Image via Twitter (@FriscoFighters)