Monday, March 25, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Arena Football League
VooDoo Defeat Rival Orlando in Overtime 51-45
The New Orleans VooDoo (1-0) opened the regular season with a thrilling 51-45 overtime victory against its South Division rivals the Orlando Predators (0-1). The VooDoo won its third straight against the Predators with crucial defensive plays and timely offensive scoring.
The game started out with little scoring as the VooDoo held a 17-16 advantage after one half of play. Kurt Rocco struggled out of the gate as he fumbled in the end zone, which led to an Orlando safety. Rocco also threw an interception in the third quarter, but he made good throws when they counted. Rocco finished 18/40 for 220 yards, and three touchdowns.
The teams put on an offensive display in the third quarter as they combined for 34 points in the period. Orlando quarterback Kyle Rowley found wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez for a pair of touchdowns, also adding a two yard run from full back Jeramie Richardson. The VooDoo had a wild turn of events when Rocco fumbled again, but full back Bruce Figgins scooped it up for a 10-yard touchdown. Rocco had a three yard touchdown run of his own to cut the Predators' lead to 36-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
It was back and forth in the fourth quarter as VooDoo defensive back Efe Osawemwenze returned an interception seven yards for a touchdown to put New Orleans up 38-36. Orlando made another timely defensive play as linebacker Tim Cheatwood sacked Rocco in the end zone for another safety for the Predators to tie the game at 38. The VooDoo came back with another score as Rocco found wide receiver Derek Lee for a four yard touchdown, but the Predators answered back as Rowley tossed a touchdown to wide receiver Jason Geathers with just three seconds remaining in regulation, the score knotted at 45.
New Orleans won the overtime coin toss and quickly scored as Rocco threw a 17-yard touchdown to wide receiver Courtney Smith to make it 51-45 after a missed extra point attempt. Smith led the team in receptions and touchdowns with six and two respectively. On the Predators' ensuing possession, VooDoo defensive back Eddie Moten iced the game with an interception at the New Orleans three yard line for a 51-45 final score.
Rocco finished 18/40 for 220 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception to win Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game. VooDoo defensive back Demarcus Robinson finished with 12 tackles and one pass defended to win the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game. The AFL Highlight of the Game came when VooDoo defensive back Eddie Moten picked off Rowley to seal the victory.
Gladiators Can't Overcome Early Deficit in Season Open
Falling behind 13-0 in the first quarter, the Cleveland Gladiators (0-1) were unable to catch up to the Spokane Shock (1-0) on Sunday, as the Gladiators fell by a 67-41 score. More than 8,500 fans were on hand for the season opener for both teams at Quicken Loans Arena. Brian Zbydniewski threw for 297 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for another score, in his debut as the Gladiators starting quarterback.
Thyron Lewis had two receiving touchdowns, while Dominick Goodman- coming off an All-AFL second-team season- also hauled in a touchdown through the air for the Gladiators, as did Maurice Williams. Derik Steiner also scored a rushing touchdown for Cleveland.
With Spokane in front 7-0 after their first drive of the game, Zbydniewski was hit in the backfield and fumbled, with the ball picked up by Spokane defensive lineman Jonathan Williams with 7:01 remaining in the opening quarter. The turnover gave the Shock possession of the ball at the Gladiators one yard line, and Adron Tennell dashed into the end zone on the first play of the drive on a hand-off to give the Shock a 13-0 lead.
The Gladiators pulled to within a touchdown, making the score 13-6 when Zbydniewski called his own number and plunged into the end zone from a yard out with 35 seconds remaining in the first.
In the second quarter, the Gladiators twice pulled to within six points, but following a Gladiators turnover on downs with 32 seconds remaining in the first half, Tennell received a three-yard touchdown pass from Shock quarterback Erik Meyer to give the Shock a 40-20 lead. Spokane mustered 27 points in the second quarter to take control of the scoreboard, compared to only 14 for Cleveland.
In the second half, the spread was never fewer than 19 points, although the Gladiators outscored Spokane 14-13 in the third stanza. Lewis scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 24-yard pass from Zbydniewski with 1:07 remaining in the quarter; a play that left Spokane on top 53-34 after three quarters.
Spokane added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to secure the win, with Lewis scoring for the Gladiators on a 19-yard catch that accounted for the final Gladiators score of the game.
Williams led the way for the Gladiators in the receiving yards department with 83 on six catches; he also had a touchdown and 89 kick return yards on five attempts. Defensively, Lance Caldwell picked up 6.5 tackles to pace the Gladiators.
The Gladiators are on the road Saturday night in Tampa to visit the Tampa Bay Storm, and will return home on April 6th to host Jacksonville.

Indoor Football League
Colorado Ice Beat IFL Champion Storm 37-33
The Colorado Ice won a pivotal game tonight at the Budweiser Events Center. By getting the win against the Sioux Falls Storm the Ice move to 3-1 in the standings keeping pace with the Nebraska Danger.
The Ice defense was on tonight as they had three interceptions, one by defensive back Michael Eby (19) and two by defensive back Lamar "Marty" Markett (22). Markett was also named the Runza player of the game. Fans can meet Markett Tuesday at Runza of Loveland from 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm. The defense also had two sacks, one by linebacker Greg Jackson (11) and the second by Gabe Knapton (33) in his first game for the Ice.
The Ice offense was once again led the by combination of quarterback Willie Copeland (13) and wide receiver Justin Helwege (88). Copeland and Helwege combined for three touchdowns. James Jones (8) running back for the Ice had one rushing touchdown and 53 total yards, Copeland also had a rushing touchdown and went 12 for 23 completions for 115 yards total passing.
The Ice travel to face the Wyoming Cavalry this coming weekend, Friday, March 29th. The next home game for the Ice is Saturday, April 13th at 6:00 pm and they will be hosting the Nebraska Danger.

Lone Star Football League
Amarillo Venom Thump New Mexico
The Amarillo Venom wasted little time picking up where they left off last season. On the first play of the game, kick returner Raymond Johnson took the kick and returned it the entire length of the field for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff the Amarillo Venom tackled the returner, Josh Floyd, in the end zone for a safety making the score 8-0 Amarillo Venom. The New Mexico Stars would answer with a field goal making the score 8-3, and then follow up with a touchdown from K.J. Black to Roland Bruno, but miss the extra point making the score 9-9 Stars. On the following drive, the Venom quarterback Nate Davis would find wide receiver Alex Watson in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown strike making the score 15-9. That pass and an incompletion were the only two throws Davis would make in the first quarter. The Venom would flex their offensive muscle by scoring quickly and forcing the other team to "work" for their scores.
"I feel we did a good job as an offense and a defense," Davis said. "But we still got a lot of work to do, we left a lot of points out there, I missed a lot of throws, missed some reads. You know we got lucky sometimes, but I feel like we're just going watch the film tomorrow, and go back and correct ourselves."
The second quarter was all Amarillo Venom as they continued to add to their lead as Tim O'Neal ran a score in, and then the Amarillo Venom surprised the Stars by going for an onside kick and recovering it. Davis would follow-up the O'Neal run with one of his own for a touchdown making the score 28-9 and the New Mexico Stars craving an opportunity to make something happen. The Stars were not able to muster any sort of offense, in fact they had a pass intercepted by the Venom's Ron Evans Jr. and that would set up another touchdown for Nate Davis to Raymon Johnson making the score 35-8 going into the half. Head coach Julian Reese talked about the onside kick.
"Coach Snipes and Coach Welch are in charge of special teams, and you just call those when feel it a certain way," Reese said. "We have a great kicker (in Jason Cunningham) and coach Snipes and coach Welch made a great call."
The Venom defense didn't rest much as they would intercept the replacement quarterback, Josh Floyd, on the first drive of the third quarter. The interception was David Irizarry's first interception of the season. On the ensuing drive for the Venom, Davis hit Raymond Johnson for three straight passes that ended with a touchdown on the drive. Making the score 42-9 Venom.
The Stars finally were able to show some life as on the next drive they would score off of a rushing touchdown off of fullback Seth Smith, but missed the extra point with the score 42-15. The Amarillo Venom answered the next drive with a touchdown off of a rushing touchdown from Tim O' Neal. The Stars kept fighting back with a score from Floyd to wide receiver Dexter Manley and rushing touchdowns by Floyd and Roland Bruno finishing with their score of 34. The Venom were overall too much for them though as Davis found Raymond Johnson, Alex Watson and Anthony Clark. Making the final score 62-34
"He (Davis) did good, but he is just like I am as far as when you're a quarterback, you're always on yourself hard, he knows he missed some throws he knows what he has to do in practice, and we are going to work on that next week," Reese said.
The Amarillo Venom are off next week for Easter weekend, and then go on the road for the first time this season to take on Abilene Bombers.
Both teams are getting a virtual two week break but Davis said they are not taking the time off.
"That is just like coach Reese said in the locker room, we are taking no breaks," Davis said. "We had our time off, offseason was our time off. We are not going to go 100% percent everyday, but we are still going to practice everyday. [We are] still going to be together, and still be on the same page, just so we don't lose anything."

Professional Indoor Football League
Steelhawks Defense Dominates Swashbucklers
The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (2-1) defense was stalwart in Louisiana (0-2), holding the Swashbucklers to 22 points, 34 yards in the second half, and shutting them out in the second half. The first minute of the game saw a combined 13 points scored, but the rest of the game was a defensive effort on the Steelhawks side, holding the Swashbucklers to only 15 more points.
The Steelhawks and Swashbucklers came out of the gates firing as there were two touchdowns on the first two plays from scrimmage of the game. Louisiana scored first but Lehigh Valley answered immediately. After a missed extra point, the Steelhawks were down 7-6. The Steelhawks made up for the lost point on their next drive as WR Tom Gilson recorded his first touchdown of the season off a 22 yard pass from QB Adam Bednarik (4 passing touchdowns), QB Hunter Wanket converted the two point conversion, and K George Pierson scored an uno off the kickoff to put the Steelhawks up 15-7. At the end of the first quarter, the Steelhawks still held the lead 15-14.
They would extend that lead on the first play of the second quarter as Bednarik scored another touchdown, putting the Steelhawks up 22-14. After a Swashbuckler touchdown, missed extra point, and a converted uno, Gilson scored his second touchdown of the game, this one off a five yard pass from Bednarik. The Steelhawk defense had a great second quarter, recording two sacks - DL Bryan Wick getting the first and DL Larry Ford following suit (his first of 3 sacks), recording a safety, and holding the Bucs to just one touchdown in the quarter. Pierson added a field goal to make the score 34-22 at half time.
The Steelhawks defensive effort continued to in the second half, forcing a Louisiana four and out on the first drive. The offense turned the stop into points as WR Tyrone Collins scored his first Steelhawk touchdown putting Lehigh Valley up 41-22 early in the third quarter. LB Terence Thomas recorded the Steelhawks' third sack of the game and the defense held for the rest of the quarter, keeping the score 41-22 Lehigh Valley.
The fourth quarter saw more of the Steelhawks defensive effort as new DB Alexander Ajayi recorded an interception. Ford also recorded a fumble recovery off a DL Eddie Smith hit. The Swashbucklers were held scoreless in the fourth quarter and the Steelhawks won the game with a final score of 44-22.
The Steelhawks are off for the next two weeks and won't return home again until April 20th for Team X Eastern Lehigh Valley Youth Sports Night against the Alabama Hammers.
Hammers Fall 64-51 at Albany
Turnovers, defensive lapses and a few bad breaks added up to a rough Saturday night for the Alabama Hammers, who fell 64-51 to the Albany Panthers before 3,941 fans at the Albany Civic Center.
The Hammers were in the game until the end and trailed just 57-51 after Darian Payne's fumble recovery in the end zone with five minutes remaining in regulation. Alabama, however, couldn't come up with a crucial defensive stop down the stretch and the Panthers (3-0) sealed the victory on Cecil Lester's 30-yard scoring strike to wide receiver John Harris.
The Hammers dropped to 2-1 on the Professional Indoor Football League season and will have a bye week before hosting the Columbus Lions April 6 at the Von Braun Center.
"We made some early mistakes that cost us, but the guys continued to fight and we were right in it until the very end," Hammers coach Dean Cokinos said. "Now we just have to reload and go back at it."
Lester's 11-yard pass to Antwontis Cutts late in the first half had given the Panthers a 20-point lead, but the Hammers answered on Russell Hill's 24-yard scoring strike to Mico McSwain to make it a 36-23 game at intermission.
The Albany lead fluttered at 20 through the third quarter and into the fourth before McClain's 40-yard pass from Hill pulled the Hammers within 57-44 with 7:45 remaining. That was followed by Payne's recovery and Brian Jackson's extra point that trimmed the lead to six, but the Panthers sealed the victory down the stretch.
Hill finished the night completing 16 of 33 attempts for 198 yards and five touchdowns with a pair of interceptions. McSwain had seven receptions and a pair of scores, while McClain had five for two touchdowns and Jeremy Grier four with one touchdown. Defensive back Vince Hill paced the Alabama defense with seven tackles.
Lester had an impressive game completing 23 of 34 passes for 291 yards and eight touchdowns. Cutts had 11 receptions for 138 and three scores for a Panther squad that took advantage of four Hammer turnovers.

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