Arena Football League
Arizona Comeback Ends Soul Winning Streak, 64-57
The Philadelphia Soul lost in the closing seconds of the game against the Arizona Rattlers, 64-57, in front of 7,027 fans at the Wells Fargo Center. The Soul (5-5) surrendered a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter to Arizona (10-1) after a dominating defensive performance.
"We did a lot of good things today both offensively and defensively," explained Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. "I'm proud of my team. They fought back and did everything they could. I'm proud of my team as a whole and I know we did a good job today. Our job is to win. We just need to capitalize when we put our team in position to win."
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game Tiger Jones led Philadelphia receivers with eight receptions for 171 yards and four touchdowns. Andrae Thurman had seven catches for 70 yards, while Ryan McDaniel recorded five receptions for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh connected on 20-of-33 passes for 308 yards and six touchdowns.
On the ground, FB Derrick Ross finished the game with 10 rushing yards.
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game DB Rayshaun Kizer recorded 12 tackles and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown. DB LaRico Stevenson had 7.5 tackles on the night and an interception, while DL Bryan Robinson had 2.5 tackles, a half-sack, and a blocked kick that he returned for two points.
Arizona's QB Nick Davila connected on 28-of-48 passes for 362 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. WR Rod Windsor led the Rattlers' receivers with two touchdowns on eight catches for 111 yards. J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game Odie Armstrong had seven yards and three touchdowns. DB Virgil Gray led the defense with 7.5 tackles.
Arizona opened the game with two touchdowns, after two big stops defensive stops against the Soul offense. The Rattlers scored on a 26-yard touchdown catch by WR Rod Windsor, which won Cutters Catch of the Game, and a 2-yard run by FB Odie Armstrong. Philadelphia answered the Rattlers by scoring on a 7-yard catch by WR Tiger Jones, closing the first quarter with Arizona in the lead, 14-7.
Both teams opened the second quarter with touchdown passes, as Arizona WR Tyson Poots scored on a 9-yard catch and Jones on a 45-yard catch. The Soul brought their deficit to one after an interception returned for a touchdown by LB Joe Goosby. After another Poots score, DL Bryan Robinson earned the AFL Highlight of the Game when he blocked the extra point and returned it for two points, putting the Soul down five. The Soul took the lead on an 18-yard catch by WR Ryan McDaniel. The first half ended with the Soul in the lead, 29-27.
Both teams scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, with the Soul finishing the quarter in the lead 43-42. Philadelphia scored on a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by DB Rayshaun Kizer and a 30-yard touchdown catch by Jones. Arizona scored on a 2-yard run by Armstrong, who also ran in the two-point conversion, and a 14-yard touchdown catch by WR Kerry Reed.
The Soul extended their lead in the fourth with two unanswered touchdowns, scoring on a 15-yard touchdown by McDaniel and a 32-yard touchdown by Jones. The Rattlers pulled within seven after a 4-yard touchdown pass to Windsor and converting for two. With less than a minute remaining, Arizona tied up the game on a 1-yard run by Armstrong. After a late interception in the end zone by Arizona, the Rattlers drove down the field and scored on a 1-yard run by QB Nick Davila to win the game.
The Philadelphia Soul will be host the New Orleans VooDoo on Saturday, June 8 at 7:05 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on the Comcast Network.
Sharks Surge Past Power, 70-48, for Second Straight Win
The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks (8-3) forced four turnovers and racked up 42 second-half points on Saturday night, leading to a 70-48 victory over the Pittsburgh Power (3-7) in front of 8,568 on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Sharks' second straight win allowed the team to retain sole possession of first place in both the South Division and the American Conference. Jacksonville led 28-20 at halftime, at which point the Shark defense stepped up with several big plays to put Pittsburgh away for good.
On the first drive of the third quarter, the Power moved into the red zone with a chance to tie the game. But on fourth and goal from the four, Shark Mac linebacker Aaron Robbins knocked down Steven Sheffield's pass at the line of scrimmage, forcing a turnover on downs. Pittsburgh's next possession started with a first-down throw, but on the next snap, Tracy Belton stepped up and knocked the ball out of the hands of Power receiver Julian Talley, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Sharks' Derrick Summers. A few plays later, fullback Rendrick Taylor scored from four yards out to stretch the lead to 35-20.
On their next drive, the Power again picked up a first down before turning it over, as Terrance Smith stepped in front of a Pittsburgh receiver to pull in his sixth interception of the season. Taylor finished a second straight drive with a touchdown run, this time taking it around the left side from two yards out as Jacksonville took a three-score lead.
Though Pittsburgh's offense came up with 28 points in the fourth quarter, the Sharks had an answer for every Power score. Smith corralled another interception to extend his team-high total to seven, and the Sharks recovered all three of Pittsburgh's onside kick attempts. For their part, the Shark offense put up 28 points of their own in the fourth, as Jacksonville hit the 70-point mark for the second time this season.
The fourth quarter began with a highlight reel play. Starting at his own five yard line, Morris pump faked to freeze the Pittsburgh defense, then stepped up and delivered a perfect pass to a wide-open Josh Philpart for a 45-yard catch-and run. Morris then connected with Jeron Harvey on two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, as Harvey finished the game with four scores. Matt Marcorelle scored on a one-yard rush to cap the Jacksonville scoring.
Morris finished the game 18 of 34 for 249 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He also led all players with six rushes for 36 yards and a first-quarter touchdown. Taylor carried the ball eight times for 18 yards and his two scores.
Harvey led the Shark offense with eight catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns. None of those eight catches stood out more than his second score, which came on the Sharks' final drive of the first half. Under pressure, Morris threw a pass over Harvey's head and off the iron, at which point Harvey's lightning-quick reflexes came into play as he hauled in the pass just before it hit the ground. It was Harvey's second off-the-net touchdown this season.
Philpart ended the game as the Sharks' second-leading receiver, totaling four catches for 76 yards and a score. Jeff Hughley added three catches for 35 yards and scored a rushing touchdown, while Markee White chipped in with three grabs for 16 yards.
On defense, Belton led the Sharks with 8.5 total tackles (seven solo) and a forced fumble. Jamaal Fudge forced a fumble as well, while Smith totaled 3.5 tackles and his two interceptions. In the first half, Marcorelle brought down Sheffield for the Sharks' league-leading 30th sack of the season. Defensive lineman Jerry Turner added a tackle for loss.
Though he was not called on for a field goal attempt nor an onside kick, Marco Capozzoli nailed all 10 of his extra-point attempts on Saturday.
For Pittsburgh, Sheffield went 24-of-30 for 235 yards, six touchdowns and two picks. Talley led all players with 12 catches, totaling 117 yards and 12 touchdowns. Mike Washington pulled in six receptions for 76 yards and two scores. On defense, Sergio Gilliam led all players with 9 total tackles (seven solo) and added three pass breakups. Darius Powell racked up Pittsburgh's lone sack, while Brandon Freeman led all players with four pass breakups.
The Sharks will take their two-game winning streak to the Pacific Northwest next weekend, as the team travels to take on the Spokane Shock next Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 10:00 p.m.
Storm Hangs on to Defeat Iowa
The Tampa Bay Storm (7-4, 2-1) defeated the Iowa Barnstormers (4-7, 2-1) Saturday evening at Wells Fargo Arena, by a score of 65-62. This was the first time the Storm played in Iowa in 13 years and it's the team's first win in Iowa since ArenaBowl X in 1996.
The night saw plenty of action with both teams trading scores. Iowa had the biggest lead of the night with 14 points, but the Storm would claw its way back, and tie it up in the fourth quarter on an Adrian McPherson touchdown rush.
The key play was a Pernell Phillips sack for a safety in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. The Storm would win on a Joe Hills touchdown in the final second of the game.
The Storm offense was led by the combination of quarterback Adrian McPherson and wide receiver Joe Hills. They hooked eight times for 120 yards and three touchdowns. McPherson rushed nine times for 47 yards and three touchdowns. He also found Michael Lindsey and Chris C. Davis. Lindsey had 8 receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Davis caught 10 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
The Barnstormers offense was led by quarterback J.J. Raterink. He completed 25 passes for 264 yards and seven touchdowns. His go-to receiver was Marco Thomas who caught 11 passes for 149 yards and four touchdowns. Jesse Schmidt also got in on the action with six receptions for 49 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa was paced by its defensive line and Mike Lewis. Lewis finished the night with 3.5 sacks. The team accounted for a total of six sacks on the night.
The Tampa Bay Storm returns home to take on the Orlando Predators in the latest installment of the "War on I-4" at the Tampa Bay Times Forum this coming Saturday, June 8...Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM ET.
Balanced VooDoo Take Down Gladiators
The New Orleans VooDoo snap an eight game losing streak to pick up a 69-40 win over the Cleveland Gladiators Saturday night in front of a crowd of 4,148 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The VooDoo (2-8) turn in their most complete performance of the season with big plays on both sides of the ball, leading to their first win inside the Superdome. The VooDoo also enjoy a 4-0 all-time record over the Gladiators.
New Orleans took advantage from the outset of the game as they recovered the game's opening kickoff. The VooDoo turned that into a quick strike as quarterback Kurt Rocco found receiver Donovan Morgan for a quick six-yard touchdown. Rocco connected with Morgan twice more in the first quarter as the VooDoo held a 21-13 advantage. Morgan had yet another prolific night as he had eight receptions for 127 yards and four touchdowns.
The VooDoo put up another 21-point onslaught in the second quarter. Rocco tossed three touchdowns to three different receivers "" Courtney Smith, L.J. Castile, and a circus catch over the wall from Morgan. Rocco was workmanlike and essentially mistake free as he was 22-31 for 250 yards and seven touchdowns. He threw zero interceptions.
Cleveland struggled with turnovers and protecting quarterback Chris Dieker, who was sacked five times, twice by defensive lineman Marlon Favorite. Dieker finished 27-42 for 239 yards and four touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions. Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns "" one by Castile and another by newly acquired DB Cameron McGlenn, who had two interceptions in the game. Receiver Dominick Goodman had 12 receptions, but he was only able to garner 85 yards and two scores, which led the way for Cleveland.
New Orleans kept the pedal down for the rest of the second half as both the offense and defense each had two scores to stay well in front of the Gladiators who fall to 2-8 on the season. Cleveland had two rushing touchdowns in the second half, but the VooDoo never let up.
Tempers did flare a bit in this game as the teams combined for four personal foul penalties, one of which led to VooDoo defensive back James Bryant's ejection in the third quarter. But that was not enough to deter the VooDoo's efforts in a solid win.
The VooDoo will take on another East Division team as they head to Philadelphia to tangle with the Soul next Saturday, and they return to the Superdome a week later to take on the Tampa Bay Storm.
Shock Sharpen Teeth against SaberCats in 75-45 Win
The Spokane Shock (8-3) won their third straight game with a 75-45 win over the San Jose SaberCats (7-3) at the Spokane Arena in front of a crowd of 9,138 in the CBS Sports Network Game of the Week. With the Shock win, Spokane takes sole possession of second place in the West Division.
In first quarter action, the Shock wasted no time putting points on the board with a one-play drive as quarterback Erik Meyer connected with wide receiver Brandon Thompkins on a 20-yard touchdown pass to take the lead at 7-0. After San Jose responded with a five play drive to be capped off with a 2-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Fred Williams, Meyer and Thompkins would connect once against before quarter's end on a 35-yard touchdown pass to give Spokane the 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Spokane's defense would make their presence known with a fourth down stop on the San Jose 12-yard line, setting up 2-yard touchdown plunge by Erik Meyer to open the second quarter to give the Shock a 21-7 lead. On San Jose's ensuing possession, quarterback Russ Michna would be intercepted by Shock defensive back Terrance Sanders who would return the pass 43-yards for the Spokane score. During the point after attempt San Jose defensive lineman Francis Maka was able to press through the Shock line and block the kick attempt, allowing defensive back Clevan Thomas to scoop and score the two-point conversion for the SaberCats to bring the game to 27-9 in favor of Spokane. Offensive woes continued for San Jose on their next possession as Shock linebacker Terence Moore was able to strip the ball from San Jose wide receiver Fred Williams, setting up a 3-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Adron Tennell. San Jose was able to score their lone touchdown of the second quarter on a 3-yard run by quarterback Russ Michna, but a failed onside kick attempt to follow would set Spokane up to run out the clock and score the final touchdown of the first half on another rushing score by Adron Tennell. Shock wide receiver Jeffrey Solomon would serve as a backup defensive back due to the recent injury to Paul Stephens, despite the fact he had not played on the defensive side of the ball since High School. Solomon would come up with his first interception of his career with one-second remaining in the half as he was able to pick off the deep pass attempt by San Jose quarterback Mitch Mustain who entered the game for Russ Michna having only attempted 7 passes so far this season. Spokane's 41 first-half points would break San Jose's streak of allowing 38-points or less over their past five contests as they would go into the half leading 41-16.
The SaberCats would open the third quarter with quarterback Mitch Mustain continuing to take the snaps. On San Jose's opening possession of the half, the Shock defense would yet again hold the SaberCats to a four-and-out and take over possession on the Shock 23-yard line. On Spokane's next series, quarterback Erik Meyer would find Jeffery Solomon for his only reception of the game on a 9-yard touchdown pass to give Spokane the 48-16 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, San Jose would finally have the ball bounce their way after a bar-ball was able to be scooped up by Jabari Fletcher and allow him to return the kick to the Shock 4-yard line to set up a one-play scoring drive on a 4-yard touchdown run by TJ Watkins. A failed onside kick attempt would be accompanied by a penalty following the San Jose score and would set the Shock up on the SaberCats 3-yard. Wide receiver Adron Tennell would go on to score his third touchdown run of the game, breaking a franchise single-game record to give Spokane the 55-23 lead to end the third quarter.
In the final quarter of play, the Shock's defensive onslaught would continue as Beau Bell would record his second consecutive sack after getting to San Jose quarterback Mitch Mustain to end the third quarter and then again on the first snap of the fourth quarter. Not willing to secede, San Jose quarterback Mitch Mustain would connect with Jason Willis for a fourth down touchdown pass from 17-yards out to tighten the Spokane lead at 55-29. Another failed onside kick attempt by San Jose would set Spokane up on the 7-yard line and open up a 8-yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Brandon Thompkins. On San Jose's next possession, the Shock defense would hold the SaberCats to their third four-and-out in the game and allow backup quarterback Arvell Nelson to complete his first pass attempt of the season on a 5-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Kamar Jorden and give Spokane the 68-29 lead with just under eight minutes to play. SaberCats quarterback Mitch Mustain would then lead the San Jose offense down the field and connect with Jason Willis for a 4-yard touchdown pass. After another touchdown pass by Arvell Nelson this time connecting with wide receiver Brandon Thompkins from 14-yards out, San Jose would score the final touchdown of the contest on a 36-yard touchdown pass between Mitch Mustain and Jason Willis. Spokane would go on to run out the remainder of the game clock to seal their win by a final score of 75-45.
Shock quarterback Erik Meyer completed 9 of 18 pass attempts for 145 yards and 4 touchdowns while Arvell Nelson would connect on 3 of his 5 pass attempts for 19 yards and 2 scores. Brandon Thompkins would lead the Shock receiving effort with 5 receptions for 86 yards and 4 scores. Adron Tennell would have his 15-game multiple touchdown streak snapped by failing to catch a touchdown reception, but would rush 5 times on the night for 3 scores. Terrance Sanders would record one interception on the night for a 43-yard touchdown.
San Jose quarterback Russ Michna completed 12 of 21 pass attempts in the first half for 127 yards. Mitch Mustain would complete 14 of 25 pass attempts for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns. Fred Williams would lead the SaberCats receivers with 12 receptions for 120 yards while Jason Willis would add 10 receptions for 152 yards and 3 scores.
Indoor Football League
Blizzard Fall to Chicago Slaughter 52-51; Eliminated from Playoff Contention
The Green Bay Blizzard's last second two point conversion attempt fell short and the Chicago Slaughter held on to defeat the Green Bay Blizzard 52-51, Friday night at the Sears Centre Arena, ending the Blizzard's playoff hopes.
With the loss, the Blizzard (4-8) have now been officially eliminated from the playoffs, ending the team's eight-year streak of playoff appearances. The Blizzard fall to 0-3 against the Slaughter this season and have now dropped three games in a row. Chicago improves to 8-5.
The Blizzard fought back and scored 20 points in the fourth quarter including a fourth down touchdown pass to Lucien Walker, his third of the night, with just 34 seconds remaining to potentially tie the game. However, QB Donovan Porterie's two-point conversion pass to WR David Lewis came up short. Green Bay's ensuing onside kick did not go the required ten yards and Chicago took over and then ran out the clock.
After a scoreless first quarter the Slaughter got on the board first as they sacked Blizzard QB Spencer Ohm in the endzone for a safety to take an early 2-0 lead. The Blizzard fought back as WR Ryan Balentine caught a 26-yard over-the-shoulder touchdown to give the Blizzard the early lead. After a Slaughter touchdown by RB Daniel Dufrene the Blizzard scored nine consecutive points and took a 16-8 lead. Slaughter K Chris Nendick was able to add a field goal just before half to give tighten the Blizzard lead to 16-11 at the half.
The Blizzard defense shut down the Slaughter offense at the half allowing the team to score on just two of nine possessions.
The third quarter went disastrously for the Blizzard. On the third play of the quarter QB Donovan Porterie, who replaced QB Spencer Ohm, threw an interception. Five plays later RB Daniel Dufrene ran it in from five yards out to give the Slaughter the lead. The Blizzard's defense could not slow the Slaughter attack as Chicago added two QB Cody Kirby touchdown runs and a 17 yard TD to Shatone Powers and to give the Slaughter a 39-16 lead before the Blizzard could answer.
Blizzard RB Dequan Starling ended the Chicago's 31-point run with a 22- yard TD run and RB Lucien Walker followed it up with a 41- yard TD reception from Porterie to bring the score to 39-31 at the end of the third.
The Blizzard and the Slaughter traded touchdowns throughout the fourth quarter and with 34 second remaining the Donovan Porterie found RB Lucien Walker in the endzone, his third of the night for the potentially tying score. The team opted to go for the two point conversion rather than the PAT and Porterie's pass to WR David Lewis fell short, ending the Blizzard's playoff hopes 52-51.
Donovan Porterie finished the game completing 14 of 28 passes for 197 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw one interception. Lucien Walker led the team in receiving yards with six catches for 108 yards and three touchdowns. DB Darius Davis led the team defensively with eight tackles, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Chicago QB Cody Kirby finished the game completing just 8 of 22 passes for 56 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. However he also ran 17 times for 50 yards and three touchdowns.
The Blizzard remain on the road next week as the team travels to Cedar Rapids to take on the Cedar Rapids Titans on Saturday, June 8th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:05.
Ice Stop the Revolution 63-26
The Colorado Ice move their record to 8 - 4 with the win over the Texas Revolution tonight, setting up the head to head battle next Friday with the Nebraska Danger for first place in the Intense Division.
The Colorado Ice started off fast after the defense got a stop on the first drive of the game with one passing touchdown in the 1st quarter from Copeland (13) to Roark (4) for 20 yards. The Ice took the lead and would not let it go through the first half of the game.
Ice running back Dennis Kennedy (7) is having a break out game for the Ice so far in this game. Kennedy has 3 touchdown runs with one being for 45 yards. Also, in the kick return position Kennedy has a 36 yard return. Kennedy has 12 total carries for 99 yards and 2 kickoff returns for 47 yards.
In the first half Ice kicker Philip Welch (18) is 4 for 4 on Points After Touchdowns and has a Field Goal for 38 yards. Ice defensive players have been keeping the Texas Revolutions offense struggling with the defensive line pressure. Billy Blackard (95) had a sack for 3 yards, Michael Eby (19) has 4 solo tackles, while Michael Stover (97) had a forced fumble and Reggie Sullivan (9) had an 8 yard fumble recovery.
To start off the second half Copeland threw a 28 yard touchdown to Kyle Kaiser (3), followed by another rushing touchdown for Kennedy and a 39 yard touchdown pass from Copeland to Roark. Linebacker Joe Thornton (1) had a safety keeping the Ice offense on the field for more scores.
In the 4th quarter the Ice continued to keep the Revolution defense on the field, putting Kennedy in for his 4th rushing touchdown of the night and 35 yards touchdown pass from Matt Roark (4) to Kaiser to cap off a great night for the Ice offense.
Defensively in the 2nd half the Ice benefited from the safety by Thornton and 4 sacks, 2 by Conrad Obi (40) and 2 by Billy Blackard (95). The defensive backs had a good second half with Eby (19); McCoy (5) get tackles for a loss.
The Runza Player of the Game is Dennis Kennedy (7) for his stellar performance at running back and on kick returns. His final numbers for the game were 21 carries for 117 yards and 4 touchdowns, while on kick returns he had 5 returns for 120 yards.
Legends Football League
Sold Out Crowd in Omaha Witnesses the Impossible
The so-called “softest” team in the LFL stood little chance against a powerhouse like the Jacksonville Breeze. In the days leading up to Saturday Night’s matchup, the Omaha Heart were given little respect. Strike that. They were given none.
Having been blown out in their first ever LFL game in Atlanta over two months ago, the Heart have sat quietly at the bottom of the league, taking every bit of disrespect that could be thrown their way. As the weeks went by, and the LFL displayed a myriad of talented teams from all over the country, this new Omaha franchise became an afterthought. While the rest of the league has their sights on a championship, most LFL players and coaches regarded Omaha as a stepping stone. They’re the sort of team you’d hope to see on your schedule as you make your run at the playoffs. Prior to Saturday night, LFL fans and even league officials looked at a team like Omaha and simply hoped they wouldn’t embarrass themselves again.
Saturday morning, afternoon, and early evening had the usual game day feeling. The clear favorite walked the halls of the arena with an air of entitlement. The Jacksonville Breeze, who had outscored their opponents 75 to 12 through two games, were high and mighty, feeding off each other’s confidence throughout the day. Meanwhile, a younger and much humbler team watched and waited.
As game time approached, it was evident that the word “soft” had struck a chord with Omaha. The fast pace and overall physical nature of the LFL had slapped this team awake in their first game. Tonight would be different.
As the Omaha defense stepped onto the field to start the game, there was little sign of fear or uncertainty. In fact, the tone of the entire game was set on the very first series as defensive end Kelsey Lane and the most ferocious defensive front we’ve seen this year went after Breeze quarterback KK Matheny. This team was angry, and Jacksonville learned it quickly, going three and out and giving up the ball in their own territory.
Soon after, the first shock of the night took place as Heart wide receiver Sarah Jane Thompson scored on an end-around play giving Omaha the first points of the night. The next play proved definitive of what was to come.
For some reason, teams in the LFL have trouble punching in the two-point conversions. Whether it’s due to a lack of practice, a lack of focus, or a lack of intensity, these short yardage scenarios can prove difficult for offenses. It’s simply one front versus another; an opportunity for the strength of one team to battle the strength of their opponent. As Omaha lined up for the 2-point conversion at the 3-yard line (their first sign of fearlessness, foregoing the option to line up at the 1-yard line for one point) the fans at the Ralston Arena would get their first opportunity to see their team challenge the Breeze in close quarters. Quarterback Linsey Noble took the snap, charged at the Breeze defense, and plowed into the end-zone for a successful conversion. Those would be the last points scored of the night.
The Breeze offense was simply exposed on Saturday night. Quarterback KK Matheny was pressured all night long by the LFL’s newest defensive star Kelsey Lane. Lane was unstoppable at times tonight taking on power runners like Saige Steinmetz and Adrian Purnell head-on. She led the defense to one of the best pass rushing performances we’ve seen this year, completely shutting down Jacksonville’s rhythm.
KK Matheny, at just 5 feet 2 inches tall, looked out of sync the entire night. She was hurried, sacked, ran out of the pocket, forced into making bad throws, and even had trouble with the snap deep in her own territory on multiple occasions. KK would eventually find herself in the back of an ambulance after the game, suffering concussion-like symptoms.
This victory didn’t come without adversity for the Heart. After threatening the Breeze defense with great scrambling ability and toughness, Linsey Noble left the game at the end of the first half with a sprained MCL. Her replacement, Ashley Lambrecht would have to step in and sustain the one possession lead for the remainder of the game.
Dontae Allen proved to be a true strategist tonight. At halftime he saw and assessed his weakness: a backup quarterback with little chemistry in the passing game. Therefore, he would play to his strengths by running the ball with his power back Rayna Berryman and keeping the Breeze offense off the field. The Heart held the ball for the entire third quarter and entered the fourth under the roaring cheers of a crowd that believed.
Jacksonville’s final push came with less than one minute remaining. KK Matheny rolled back, was pressured and flung a blind prayer into the end zone. As the ball hit the stands, the Heart defense stood there in disbelief. Through toughness, hard work, and flat out aggression, this expansion team had just shut out the top ranked team in the league.
Now what for Omaha? Now what for Jacksonville? Prior to tonight, Jacksonville looked at this Monday as a time to study game film on Philadelphia and plan how they would approach their post-season run. Now the Breeze are left to study themselves as a team and find out how they respond to letdown. They’ll look for a speedy recovery from Matheny, and work to put this giant upset behind them.
Omaha on the other hand… has to be considered a franchise with a bright future. Not only does the city of Omaha appear to be one of the most supportive and football loving towns in the LFL, but they now have a winning team to root for. The Heart showed sports fans many things tonight. They showed “heart” of course, sustaining a small lead for four quarters against a team that is made up of equal parts power and speed. They showed resiliency, as Ashley Lambrecht stepped in to take the reigns of the offense on short notice after their leader was taken out. Yet most of all, tonight the Heart showed the one thing that makes up winning LFL teams. They showed confidence.
There wasn’t a player on this team that stepped onto the field tonight with hopes of merely competing. They were here to win. Perhaps the best thing to have happened to this expansion team out of Omaha was to be blown out in their first ever game because they played with so much fire and intensity tonight that the rest of the league has to be placing them back on the radar. The Heart are no longer a stepping stone. They’ve scored the biggest upset in LFL history, but more importantly, now they’ve earned respect. Omaha shuts out Jacksonville at the Ralston Arena, 8-0!
Professional Indoor Football League
Raiders Fall in Triple OT
Working overtime is getting to be a habit for the Raiders.
Unfortunately, wins have not come as steadily.
For the third straight game, overtime was needed to decide a winner. In two of the three, both Raider losses, the game went to multiple extra sessions. Antwon Cutts' interception of Warren Smith in the third overtime period sealed a 69-63 win for the Albany Panthers, avenging their loss in Richmond last month and muddying the PIFL playoff picture.
Panther quarterback Cecil Lester accounted for 10 touchdowns, including a 15 yard scramble in the third overtime that proved to be the winning margin. He threw for scores on each of the Panthers' last four possessions of regulation after his interception to Kevin Allen was returned for a touchdown that put the Raiders up 28-21 late in the third quarter. From then on, the Panthers would tie the game after each time the Raiders scored to take the lead, including a 23 yard touchdown from Lester to Clenton Rafe with eight seconds left that tied the game at 49.
The Raiders had a chance to ice the game in regulation, taking over in a tie game with 3:49 to go. They milked the clock with an eight play drive, forcing Albany to call timeouts after the one minute warning to preserve time for a final possession. Gerron Bryant caught his third touchdown of the game with 36 seconds left to give the Raiders a 49-42 lead, but that left Lester and company more than enough time to respond.
Rafe opened the first overtime with a nine yard touchdown, and the Raiders evened things when Rodney Sledge ran in from one yard. Warren Smith found Hakeem Moore to begin the second overtime, but Rafe's third straight touchdown sent the game to a third extra period.
The game started with an uno by T.C. Stevens, and on Albany's second snap Lester was stripped of the ball and Preston Hines recovered at the Panther three. The Raiders had to settle for a field goal, but got stops on the next two Panther drives and built an 11-0 lead. Sledge figured prominently in the Raiders' second touchdown drive, stringing together a nine yard reception then three straight runs culminating in a six yard score. The Panthers, as they would in the second half, scored with less than a minute to go in the first half to pull to within four points at 18-14. Fourteen seconds remained for the Raiders to get some points, but their touchdown plans were derailed by a penalty and they settled for a 34 yard field goal. The points were taken off the board after another penalty, and the ensuing 44 yard attempt was blocked. Later, Stevens would have an uno taken away via penalty. In all, the Raiders were flagged for 13 penalties, the Panthers just three "" all of the five yard variety.
Bryant had three touchdowns and Hakeem Moore added one as he went over 100 yards for the third straight game. Herb Jones had 111 receiving yards, marking his fourth straight outing over the century mark. Smith passed for 299 yards and five touchdowns but had two interceptions. Brandon Sutton had two sacks, but Lester kept enough plays alive to move the chains "" the Panthers converted 8 of 12 third downs and both of their fourth down attempts "" and rack up 338 yards through the air and an additional 19 on the ground.
The Raiders (6-4), Panthers (5-4), and Lehigh Valley SteelHawks (6-4) are in a three-way tie in the loss column for second place (the SteelHawks play Sunday in Columbus). The road doesn't get any easier as the Raiders will travel to Huntsville to face the first place Alabama Hammers (7-2) next week, followed by a home date with the Louisiana Swashbucklers, still very much alive in the playoff hunt at 4-5. The Raiders are 3-3 in their last six games following a 3-1 start and are in the middle of what is shaping up to be a wild dash to the end of the regular season.
Hammers Roll 63-22 over Louisiana at the VBC
The Alabama Hammers looked a little flat in the early going against Louisiana, but the Professional Indoor Football League's top team put on quite a show during the second and third quarters on Saturday night.
The Hammers broke open a one point game with 49 unanswered points and cruised to a 63-22 victory before 3,079 fans at the Von Braun Center.
Alabama improved to 7-2 as quarterback Russell Hill threw for 191 yards and five touchdowns in completing 22 of 32 passes with one interception. Ex-UNA star Mico McSwain caught 10 passes for 104 yards and three scores, while Charles McClain -another former Lion - hauled in nine for 83 and three of his own.
The Swashbucklers - who didn't score a touchdown until the final quarter - fell to 4-5 after having last weekend's home game against Alabama postponed.
"It was an impressive win and we looked particularly well on defense,'' Hammers coach Dean Cokinos said. "Now we've got to refocus and get ready for a tough Richmond team next weekend."
Alabama now holds a game and a half lead over Richmond (6-4), which fell 69-63 in triple overtime Saturday at fourth-place Albany (5-4).
The Hammers led 7-6 after the opening quarter on Hill's 15-yard pass to McClain and 28-6 at halftime following a 9-yarder to McClain, a 4-yarder to McSwain and Jeremy Grier's 5-yard scoring snag.
Grier's 40-yard scoop and score of a fumble on defense kick started a near flawless third quarter that saw the Hammers advantage soar to 56-6 with McClain hauling in an 11-yarder, and fullback Daniel Ross adding a 1-yard dive to basically seal the deal heading to the final 15 minutes.Defensive lineman Darian Barnes had three and a half sacks for Alabama and also paced the squad with five tackles alongside defensive back Travis Blanchard.