OMAHA, Neb. — For the first time in the franchise history, the Wichita Wild are playing for a league playoff championship.
Wichita edged the Omaha Beef 31-25 in the semifinals of the Champions Professional Indoor Football League playoffs at the Ralston Arena in Omaha.
Wichita takes on the first-year Salina Bombers at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Hartman Arena in the first Champions Bowl.
Down 9-7 at the half, Wichita outscored Omaha 17-9 in the third quarter and added a touchdown in the fourth quarter before Omaha scored with 16 seconds remaining in regulation. Wichita then recovered an on-side kick attempt at the Omaha 9 and ran out the clock.
Wichita quarterback Rocky Hinds hit 12 of 23 passes for 141 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and three sacks. Hinds added 30 yards rushing. Travis Ribbing had six carries for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Joe Kassanavoid caught six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Jarell Kelley added a touchdown pass.
Kicker Alex Fambrough hit four of four PAT kicks and added a field goal of 30 yards.
For Omaha, James McNear hit 13 of 24 passes for 136 yards with two touchdowns, three interceptions and six sacks. McNear added 92 yards rushing on eight carries with a score.
Shaun Stephens and Mike Jones each caught a touchdown pass.
For the Wichita defense, Chris Hemphill had three interceptions. Anthony Smith and Kiaree Daniels each had six total tackles. Matt Moss had three sacks. Bethel grad James McCartney had one tackle assist.
For the Omaha defense, Peter Buck and Chris Bradford each had seven total tackles. Bradford had two sacks. Derek Dreher had an interception.
Omaha scored a safety early in the third quarter on a Marques Walton sack.
Wichita beats Omaha for the second time this season.
Salina advanced to the finals with a 29-28 upset win over the top-seeded Sioux City Bandits, which gave Wichita the right to host the championship game.
Salina was led by Dane Simoneau, who passed for 158 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 67 yards. Corey Hoover hit five of seven field goal attempts and two PAT kicks.
Wichita was 2-0 against Salina in the regular season, winning 60-34 in the second game of the season for the Wild and 45-40 at home in the 10th game of the season.
Wichita 7 0 17 7 —31
Omaha 0 9 9 7 —25
1q. W Kassanavoid 8-yd. pass from Hinds (Fambrough kick) 5:15
2q. O Tomlinson 34-yd. field goal 13:32
2q. O Stephens 45-yd. pass from McNear (kick failed) 11:47
3q. W Ribbing 29-yd. run (Fambrough kick) 12:55
3q. O Safety: Walton sacked Hinds in end zone 9:05
3q. O McNear 16-yd. run (Tomlinson kick) 8:20
3q. W Fambrough 30-yd. field goal 3:15
3q. W Kelley 24-yd. pass from Hinds (Fambrough kick) :45
4q. W Kassanavoid 19-yd. pass from Hinds (Fambrough kick) 1:30
4q. O Jones 5-yd. pass from McNear (Tomlinson kick) :16
First downs 13 12
Rushing-yards 18-63 12-97
Passing yards 134 102
Comp-att-int 12-23-1 13-24-3
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 7-41 2-7
Time of poss. 37:08 22:52
RUSHING — Wichita: Hinds 5-30, Ribbing 6-34, Hubbard 7-9. Omaha: McNear 8-92, Rollins 3-5, Banks 1-0.
PASSING — Wichita: Hinds 12-23-1, 141 yards; team (-7) yards. Omaha: McNear 13-24-3, 136 yards; team (-34) yards.
RECEIVING — Wichita: Kassanavoid 6-75, Simmons 3-25, Kelley 1-24, Murph 1-13, Hubbard 1-4. Omaha: Harrold 4-36, Rollins 3-15, Stephens 2-53, Jones 2-14, Banks 1-15, Kildow 1-3.
Missed field goals — Wichita: Fambrough 50 (ret.), 56 (ret.), 32 (WR), 57 (WL). Omaha: Tomlinson 41 (WR), 30 (WR), 46 (WL).
Attendance — 2,633.