CEDAR RAPIDS – The bad news for the Cedar Rapids Titans? The mental errors and physical mistakes that Coach Mark Stoute has harped on all season reared their head on a number of occasions last night, including a Spencer Ohm pick-six in the third quarter.
The good news? Despite that, the Titans (4-1) got their fourth straight win at home last night in the U.S. Cellular Center, 48-37, against the Bemidji Axemen (2-3).
“It was just so up and down – not really happy with the consistency,” Stoute said. “We’ve just got to stay focused. We made too many mental errors tonight.
“It’s a game of inches and a game of mistakes. The team that makes the least amount (wins). Fortunately we’re forcing more mistakes than we’re giving. We’ve got to get cleaned up in order to be the best we can be.”
Though Stoute was frustrated with some of the things his players did against Bemidji, it wasn’t all doom and gloom after the game.
After all, it was a win. And receiver Bryan Pray, in just his second game back with the team after a stint with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, was the light that shone brightest for the Titans’s offense, which started out hot but went cold for much of the second and third quarters.
Pray, too, was happy with how he played and finished with seven catches for 66 yards.
He was especially proud of two catches in which he had to dive over the wall to complete the catch, landing in the laps of fans on one, and on the press row table on another.
“It’s cool because of the way the fans are set up – they’re right there. You can jump in the stands, catch the ball and they throw you back,” Pray said. “I’ve been in this game for four years. Hitting that wall – you know you’re going to hit it, so why not go after it? It definitely takes concentration.”
As for Ohm, he left the game with mixed feelings.
He looked sharp to begin the game, starting 8 of 10, but finished the game just 11 of 25 for 140 yards, one touchdown and the interception which was returned for a score by Bemidji.
Ohm said he’s confident he and the offense can shake the cobwebs loose, but knows it has to happen quickly.
“It was sloppy on the offensive end. There’s a lot we could’ve done better,” Ohm said. “I myself take most of the blame because I made a couple mistakes on my own, but I think collectively as a unit, we didn’t play our best tonight. I think we need to come back next week with a resurgence. We need to correct our mistakes and get back to what we do best.”
Now it’s back to work for the Titans, who head on the road to face the Tri-Cities Fever on April 5 before a bye week.
The team is dealing with a number of injuries, including defensive leader Xzavie Jackson, who broke his pinkie against the Fever on March 22. Getting to that bye week healthy and with another win will be crucial.
“It’s very important at this point,” Stoute said of getting to the bye healthy. “After the bye week we come into a tough stretch. We go on the road against Texas again, we’ve got Sioux Falls to deal with. So it really gets tough after that.“We definitely need the bye week to get our health together.”