CEDAR RAPIDS — The best years for the Cedar Rapids Titans were with Mark Stoute as coach and Xzavie Jackson on defense.
Their four-year union produced 42 wins and four playoff appearances, including the only postseason win in franchise history. After the 2016 season ended, both elected for a change of scenery.
The duo appear to be on the verge of similar success with the undefeated Nebraska Danger, who handed the Titans their second loss in a row, 50-41, in an Indoor Football League game Monday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“It’s home,” Stoute said of Cedar Rapids. “It’s home away from home. I spent four years living here, so it’s kind of a little bit nostalgic to come back and see where they stand as far as fan coverage compared to when we were here. This was a tough place to come play football for a while. We lost three games at home in four years. Hopefully they can get things turned around and they can get it back to where it needs to be.”
Stoute, 60, left Cedar Rapids for a defensive coordinator position with the Jacksonville Sharks before the inaugural season of the National Arena League. Before the first game, he was named head coach and led the Sharks to an 8-0 record before being unceremoniously fired.
“The ownership down there wanted to play a lot of older guys,” Stoute said. “I’m not a guy that brings in a bunch of old guys. … We had a young crew, we were undefeated, we led the league in every category and they wanted me to make changes. I basically drew the line in the sand and said, ‘Nope. I’m not making changes. I’m going home.’”
One “old guy” that has always had a place on Stoute’s roster is veteran defensive lineman Xzavie Jackson. Jackson, 33, had 50 1/2 sacks in five seasons with the Titans, the last four with Stoute.
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After the Titans underwent a complete roster turnover when Stoute was replaced by former University of Iowa player Marvin McNutt, Jackson signed with Nebraska and recorded 35 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks as the Danger qualified for the 2017 IFL playoffs with a 9-7 record.
“It means a lot,” Jackson said of being back in Cedar Rapids. “Pretty much built this program around me. The fans don’t like me no more because I’m on the other side, but it’s OK. I had fun.”
Cedar Rapids (1-3) rallied from a 26-13 deficit to forge a third-quarter tie at 26-26. The Titans got as close as two points at 43-41 with less than a minute to play, but Nebraska receiver Eric Thomas returned an onside kick 16 yards for the clinching score as the Danger improved to 3-0.
“We’re young, we make some mistakes,” Stoute said. “I kind of have to live with them early to get them where I need them to be. We’re playing pretty good football right now, in general.”
Jackson recovered a fumble in the second half. Nebraska quarterback Damien Fleming threw for 127 yards and accounted for four total touchdowns.
Cedar Rapids quarterback Jake Medlock had another outstanding game with 243 passing yards and five touchdowns without a turnover. Medlock also ran for a score.
Cedar Rapids receiver Marquel Wade caught six passes for 82 yards and three scores, while receiver Connor Hollenbeck added six receptions for 69 yards and two TDs.
Cedar Rapids hosts the Iowa Barnstormers Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Nebraska Danger 50, Cedar Rapids Titans 41
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
Nebraska 13 13 7 17—50
Cedar Rapids 0 19 7 15—41
ND — Damien Fleming 1 run(Brad Hatfield kick)
ND — RaSawde Myers 0 fumble recovery (Hatfield kick)
CR — Marquel Wade 6 pass from Jake Medlock (Micha Georgetti kick)
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ND — Eric Thomas 28 pass from Flemming (Hatfield kick)
CR — Wade 35 pass from Medlock (Kick failed)
ND — Angelo Pease 6 pass from Fleming (Kick failed)
CR — Jake Medlock 2 run. (Pass failed)
CR — Wade 19 pass from Medlock (Georgetti kick)
ND — Pease 5 run (Hatfield kick)
ND — FG Hatfield 31
ND — Greg Dent 41 pass from Fleming (Hatfield kick)
CR — Hollenbeck 20 pass from Medlock (Georgetti kick)
CR — Hollenbeck. 16 yd pass from Medlock. (Sean Brown rush)
ND — Eric Thomas 15 kickoff return (Hatfield kick)
RUSHING — Cedar Rapids: Jake Medlock 2-5, Sean Brown 1-1, Tyler Thomas 4-0. Nebraska: Damien Fleming 9-34; Angelo Pease 9-19; Kenzel Doe 2-20.
PASSING — Cedar Rapids: Medlock 18-32-0-243; Nebraska: Fleming 14-23-0-127.
RECEIVING — Cedar Rapids: Marquel Wade 6-82, Connor Hollenbeck -69, Jordan Smith 5-68, Tyler Thomas 1-24; Nebraska: Greg Dent 5-67, Eric Thomas 4-40, Pease 2-11.
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