MUSKEGON – The Ohio Boom ran on to the field at Muskegon’s Trinity Health Arena on Friday night looking like a pretty rag-tag outfit, with players sporting different colored helmets.

Right away, everyone assumed that the West Michigan Ironmen were about to post another easy victory by another large margin over another inferior opponent.

But looks can be deceiving, and that was certainly the case with the visiting Boom.

The Ironmen, who won their two previous games by ugly scores of 82-6 and 72-12, had their hands full all night and had to battle to escape with an exciting 41-22 victory.

The game was probably the wakeup call that the undefeated Ironmen needed, headed into their final regular season game and then the Great Lakes Indoor Football league playoffs.

The Ironmen’s Alex Carder, who kicks and plays QB, reaches to make a tackle on a kickoff. Photo/Jeremy Clark

It was certainly fun for Ironmen fans, who have not had a dramatic game to watch in quite a long time.

“it was great for us – it humbled us,” said Ironmen Coach Terry Mitchell, whose team is now 3-0 on the season. “The last two games we won by 60 or 70 points, and we finally got a team in here that was not scared of us. They came to play.

“I got on our guys in the locker room at halftime. I told them what they needed to do. We weren’t playing Ironmen football. We know we are better than that.”

The big problem for the Ironmen was a sputtering offense, which was mostly because of a sputtering passing game.

Quarterback Alex Carder, who is usually good for five or six touchdown throws per game, was only 8-for-25 through the air for 105 yards with three interceptions.

DavVeon Taylor in the end zone after scoring one of his three touchdowns for the Ironmen. Photo/Jeremy Clark

All but one of West Michigan’s six touchdowns were on the ground, which is almost unheard of in pass-happy arena football.

Coach Mitchell noted that the team was playing without star wide receiver Sterling Alexander, who was out sick, and that removed a big weapon from the attack.

“One of our star players was sick, but we’re going to go back and regroup and come back stronger than ever,” Mitchell said.

The good news was that the Ironmen defense was very solid, particularly in the second half, holding Ohio pointless.

“The defense stepped up big time for us,” Mitchell said. “Usually it’s the offense.”

West Michigan’s Clay Oliver pressures the Ohio quarterback. Photo/Jeremy Clark

The first half was a struggle for the Ironmen.

They managed two touchdowns in the first quarter – both on short runs by DavVeon Taylor – and led 15-0 headed into the second.

Ohio, benefitting from several long kickoff returns, fought back hard in the second quarter, and the teams traded touchdowns.

Boom quarterback Tony Bridges scored on a six-yard run and the conversion was good, making the score 15-8.

The Ironmen answered with a one-yard TD run by Taylor – his third score – and took a 22-8 lead.

The Ironmen’s Tyler Bruce (12) dives to make a tackle after an Ohio interception. Photo/Jeremy Clark

Bridges followed with a 12-yard touchdown run and the two-point conversion left the Ironmen with a 22-16 lead.

Carder, who had several impressive scrambles for big gains in the first half, scored on a five-yard run with 38 seconds left before halftime, putting the Ironmen up 28-16.

But the stubborn Boom added another TD with 19 seconds left, on a 25-yard pass from Bridges to Klemp Overstoon, and the score was 28-22 at the break.

Suddenly the Ironmen knew they had a game on their hands.

The third quarter was an interception-fest, with no scoring at all.

Alex Carder prepares to kick an extra point. Photo/Jeremy Clark

The Ironmen defense stopped Ohio on downs on the opening possession, but Carder was intercepted on his first pass from scrimmage, giving the Boom the ball back.

West Michigan’s Will Ellis answered moments later with an interception of his own, but then Ohio intercepted Carder again.

The biggest interception of the night came from West Michigan’s Kaden Nelson, because it set up the Ironmen for the first points of the second half.

That came on a one-year burst by Carder early in the fourth quarter.

Carder capped the scoring with his only touchdown pass of the night, a five-yarder to Eldrada Meeks, with 2:55 left on the clock.


WM – 12:40 – DavVeon Taylor 1 run (2-point conversion) – 8-0 WM
WM – :49 – Taylor 2 run (kick good) 15-0 WM

O – 13:06 – Tony Bridges 6 run (2-point conversion) 15-8 WM
WM – 9:55 – Taylor 1 run (kick good) 22-8 WM
0 – 2:47 – Bridges 12 run ((2-point conversion) 22-16 WM
WM – :38 – Alex Carder 5 run (kick failed) 28-16 WM
O – :19 – Bridges 25 pass to Klemp Overstoon (conversion failed) 28-22 WM

No scoring

WM – 14:02 – Carder 1 run (kick good) 35-22 WM
WM – 2:55 – Carder 5 pass to Eldrada Meeks (kick failed) 41-22 WM