The energy, excitement and good vibes vacated Rupp Arena Friday night when Alison Krauss and Robert Plant left the building.
On Saturday night, the Lexington Horsemen reported for duty with a lack of energy. The excitement of a playoff team playing its last regular-season home game was missing.
And the visiting Iowa Barnstormers, 5-9 coming in, clutched whatever good vibes were still around with a 54-44 victory in front of 3,585 fans.
Lexington (9-6) fell a game behind Green Bay in arenafootball2's Midwest Division. The loss could cost the Horsemen a first-round home game because they held the tiebreaker with the Blizzard.
Lexington finishes the regular season at Quad City (7-8) on Thursday. Green Bay (10-5) is at Mahoning Valley (3-12) on Saturday.
“We came out dead with no intensity,” Lexington linebacker Jamus Martin said. “We took a quarter to warm up and get back in it. They played four quarters, and we played three.”
“We didn't make plays when it counted,” said Lexington quarterback Eddie Eviston, who passed for 202 yards and four touchdowns. “Our defense played a great second half and gave us all kinds of opportunities.”
The Horsemen's woes began with the opening kickoff when William Mulder fumbled the ricochet off the net, and Iowa's Tanner Varner recovered in the end zone.
On Lexington's first play from scrimmage, John Cooper fumbled a reception. After an incompletion, Iowa's Joe Brannen and Tim Dodge connected on a 14-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
Lexington's next drive for a touchdown was thwarted by using an ineligible player. The Horsemen thought Deion Holts was on the league's active roster but a clerical error left him off.
“Three right hooks in a slugfest,” Lexington Coach Mike Harmon said. “We were trying to get motivated to get back in the game.”
The woes continued.
In the second quarter, the Horsemen scored to trail 27-17 but an onside kick got only to the 8-yard line (not the 10). Iowa got the ball on the 4 after a penalty and scored to lead 34-17, its third 17-point lead of the half.
The Horsemen closed to 37-30 and tied the score with the first touchdown after intermission. Harry Lewis caught a 7-yard pass from Eviston.
The Barnstormers regained the lead on a 20-yard scoring pass to Errick McCown, Brannen's fourth touchdown pass.
Lexington tied the score a final time when Eviston ran in from the 4 on the third play of the last quarter.
Iowa broke the 44-all tie when Brannen hooked up with McCown for a 40-yard completion to the home 5. Three plays gained no yards, but Jeff Glas kicked a 20-yard field goal with 9:10 to play.
Lexington's final three drives were unsuccessful — two interceptions and a loss on downs.
The Horsemen took over on downs after stopping Iowa on four plays at the home 2. But Lexington turned it back after gaining 2 yards on four plays.
J.J. Payne's 4-yard run closed the scoring with 50 seconds left.
“The game started without a lot of energy, but we took advantage of their mistakes and got ahead,” Brannen said. “It became a battle, and we had to fight back. We had control, but Lexington made some good halftime adjustments. Their defense had a great second half, but we hung on.”