Information for this report provided by the Tucson Sugar Skulls
The Tucson Sugar Skulls returned to their winning ways on Saturday night at Tucson Arena, only trailing for 49 seconds in a dominant showing against the Sioux Falls Storm, ending a three-game losing streak in the process.
Tucson fell behind 14-7 early in the second quarter but then reached the end zone eight times, outpacing the Storm to a 56-42 final.
The Sugar Skulls (4-3) returned to winning after their three-game losing streak soured their 3-0 start.
WR Carrington Thompson – 6 receptions, 80 yards, 3 touchdowns
QB Ramone Atkins – 12/17, 126 passing yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 65 rushing yards, 2 rushing TD
RB Benjamin Jones – 13 rushes, 45 yards, 2 rushing TD
WR Emetrious Scott – 2 kick returns, 64 yards, 1 return TD, 2 receptions, 22 yards
DB Carlito Gonzales – 6 tackles
DL Maurice Jackson – 5 tackles (4 solo, 1 assisted), 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack
Returning from injury, Jones scored a touchdown on the first Sugar Skulls possession, with a 2-yard plunge. Sioux Falls responded, though, as Lorenzo Brown led the Storm on two scoring drives to put the Storm in the lead 14-7 midway through the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Scott navigated his way 49 yards to the end zone, knotting the score at 14-14. Scott, playing in just his third game with Tucson, had only registered two previous returns on the season, for a total of 36 yards, before the touchdown.
The Sugar Skulls’ passing game took control after that, as inside of the final two minutes of the half Atkins found Thompson in the end zone twice (once for 38 yards, and again for 9 yards), and Tucson pulled ahead 28-14. Thompson has now scored a touchdown in the last nine games in which he has played, dating back to last season.
Sioux Falls closed the gap to 28-21 within 42 seconds of receiving the second-half kickoff, on a 33-yard scamper by Draysean Hudson. However, the Skulls snagged their two-touchdown advantage back, when Atkins ran it in himself from 2 yards out, with 6:48 to play in the third quarter.
Jones gave Tucson their largest lead of the game (21 points), with his second touchdown run of the game early in the fourth quarter. And the two teams traded 4-yard touchdown runs immediately after. With 5:22 to play, the Sugar Skulls held a comfortable 49-28 lead.
One more Tucson touchdown, a 12-yard catch by Thompson – his third score of the night – was sandwiched between two Sioux Falls touchdowns, which were too little, too late. Tucson prevailed, 56-42.
Tucson stays home Saturday to face the Bay Area Panthers in a rematch of their April 16 thriller in San Jose, during which the Sugar Skulls overcame a 16-0 deficit to win their third straight, 34-30.
Bay Area, with former Sugar Skulls coach Dixie Wooten its offensive coordinator, currently sits atop the Western Conference with a 5-3 record, following their victory Saturday night, when they handed the league’s top team, the Frisco Fighters, their first loss of the season, 62-55.
The Sugar Skulls are 3-0 in their history against the Panthers, defeating them once on the road and once at home in 2022. If they can accomplish that same feat next Saturday, the Sugar Skulls would improve to 5-3, and be in prime position to take control of the top spot in the Western Conference.
The game will take place at 6:05 p.m. at Tucson Arena.