Sunday, April 7, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Arena Football League
SaberCats Fall to Rattlers, 73-47
The San Jose SaberCats (2-1) fell to the Arizona Rattlers (3-0) 73-47 on Saturday night at US Airways Center in front of 7,156 fans in Phoenix. Quarterback Aaron Garcia completed 25-of-42 passes for 279 yards and six touchdowns for San Jose. Turnovers told the story in this one, as Garcia was intercepted three times, two of which were brought back for scores and San Jose was stopped once more on downs.
Arizona got on the scoreboard first, as former SaberCats defensive back Marquis Floyd returned a deflected Garcia pass 40 yards for the opening score. San Jose responded quickly, however, as Garcia hooked up with wide receiver Fred Williams from 18 yards out to knot the score at seven midway through the first quarter. The teams traded scores once more to tie things at 14 after one quarter of play.
The Rattlers scored quickly into the second quarter as quarterback Nick Davila picked out wide receiver Tysson Poots for the second time on the night, this time from 12-yards out, to put Arizona in front, 21-14. After Garcia threw his second interception of the first half, Arizona capitalized as Davila connected with Kerry Reed on a 24-yard strike to put the Rattlers on top 28-14 with 7:56 to play in the second quarter. Reed struck again on the next drive, intercepting Garcia from his jack linebacker position and returning it 43-yards for the score, extending Arizona's advantage to 35-14.
Following a 42-yard kick return by defensive back Mervin Brookins, Garcia rebounded with a 12-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Jason Willis to pull within two scores. Arizona benefitted from a pair of rushing touchdowns by fullback Odie Armstrong sandwiched around a 24-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to Huey Whittaker and Arizona led 49-28 at the half.
The teams traded scores to open the second half, and Arizona pushed the lead to 59-35 on a 24-yard field goal by kicker Garrett Lindholm with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter. The SaberCats were unable to score on a key fourth down inside the red zone and trailed by the same score heading into the fourth quarter.
Reed found the endzone for the third time on the night, his second offensively as he caught a nine-yard strike from Davila in early in the fourth quarter. San Jose pulled another score back when Garcia threw for his sixth score of the evening, connecting with wide receiver Jamarko Simmons, cutting Arizona's lead to 66-41. After another Arizona score, quarterback Mitch Mustain threw his first career touchdown pass, finding Williams for a 31-yard touchdown, his second score of the night. It wasn't enough however, as San Jose dropped their first game in 2013, 73-47.
Sharks Beat Gladiators, 66-49, for Third Straight Win
Led by four total touchdowns from receiver Jeff Hughley, the 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks picked up a third road win in as many weeks, taking down the Cleveland Gladiators by a 66-49 count at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night. With the win, Jacksonville improves to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Though Jacksonville (3-0) scored first and ultimately led wire to wire, the game remained close until late in the final quarter. In fact, the two teams had combined to score on every possession of the second half before the Shark defense stepped up with a key stop. With their team ahead, 58-49, Aaron Robbins and Rashaad Duncan each sacked Cleveland (0-3) quarterback Brian Zbydniewski in a three-play span, forcing the Gladiators into a fourth-and-19 situation.
At that point, the Gladiators opted to attempt a long field goal, which missed wide left. Hughley returned the miss to near midfield and a few plays later, quarterback Bernard Morris hit Markee White for a 16-yard touchdown that gave the Sharks a three-score lead, icing the game with 1:00 left.
That touchdown was White's third of the game, as the fourth-year receiver delivered the most productive game of his brief Shark career. White led the Sharks in all three major receiving categories, finishing with 10 catches for 122 yards and three scores.
While the second half belonged to White, Hughley catalyzed the Shark offense in the first two quarters. The fourth-year pro hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Morris on the game's first possession, then added two rushing touchdowns later in the half. Adding a receiving touchdown in the third quarter, Hughley led all players by hitting paydirt four times on Saturday. In his first game in a Shark uniform, Jarvis Williams chipped in 57 yards and a touchdown on his five catches.
Morris continued his mistake-free start to the 2013 season, throwing seven touchdowns without turning the football over. The Shark signal-caller completed 23 of his 35 passes for 282 yards and those seven scores, adding 20 rushing yards on his four carries. Morris has now opened the season by throwing 18 touchdowns without a pick through the Sharks' first three games.
While the offense played nearly perfect ball in the second half, it was the work of the Jacksonville defense that gave the Sharks an early edge. Two consecutive first-half stops allowed Jacksonville to lead 21-7 early in the second quarter. As has often been the case this season, the Shark pass rush was a dominant force.
Entering the game with a league-leading eight sacks through two weeks, Shark defenders brought down Zbydniewski on four occasions Saturday night. A constant force in the middle, Duncan was credited with three sacks, tying a single-game team record that was matched by Jerry Turner just last week. Robbins added his aforementioned sack in the fourth quarter, while Matt Marcorelle disrupted several plays and forced hurried throws.
Thanks in large part to that constant pressure, Zbydniewski completed less than half of his pass attempts, ending the game 19-of-40 for 244 yards and five touchdowns. His favorite target throughout the game was Dominick Goodman, who led Cleveland with nine catches for 118 yards and three scores. Goodman also made a huge impact on special teams, racking up 157 kick return yards on six runbacks.
For the Sharks, Hughley returned seven kicks for 90 yards and totaled 184 all-purpose yards. Kicker Marco Capozzoli drilled a 34-yarder at the end of the first half - his first attempt of the season - and also hit seven of his eight extra points.
Though the Shark secondary did not record an interception, the team broke up a total of seven passes. Playing his home state of Ohio, Micheaux Robinson led the charge with eight solo tackles, a tackle for loss and three pass breakups.
After this season-opening three-game road trip, the Sharks will return home to host the New Orleans VooDoo on Friday, April 12 on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m.
Soul Pound Predators for First Victory of Season, 61-33
The Philadelphia Soul (1-1) fell into a 14-0 hole, but went on to score 34 unanswered points on their way to a 61-33 victory over the Orlando Predators (0-3) in front of 12,248 fans at the Amway Center on Saturday night.
"We overcame some adversity early with those two quick turnovers," said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. "We are pleased with how our veterans responded and our rookies that stepped up and played extremely well. This is definitely some positive momentum that we can build off from."
Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh guided the Philadelphia offense and finished by connecting on 23-of-33 passes for 250 yards, seven touchdowns.
Rookie Ryan McDaniel led Philadelphia receivers with seven receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game Tiger Jones had five catches for 64 yards receiving and two touchdowns, while Larry Brackins added four receptions for 33 yards and three touchdowns and Andrae Thurman had six receptions for 37 yards and one touchdown.
Derrick Ross finished with 53 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, including the Spalding Highlight of the Game with his 44-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Defensively, Riddell Defensive Player of the Game, Dustin Barno, who had a sack, helped lead the pressure up front - with Bryan Robinson, Brandon Perkins, Morkeith Brown -and forced six turnovers (three on downs). Rayshaun Kizer had 5.0 total tackles and a fumble recovery, LaRico Stevenson had 3.0 total tackles and an interception and rookie James Romain had 3.5 total tackles, three pass breakups and an interception.
Orlando's Kyle Rowley connected 9-of-20 passes for 63 yards and one interception before being relieved by Chris Dixon, who went 9-of-13 for 120 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. WR Prechae Rodriguez led the Orlando receivers with seven receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Turnovers ruled the first quarter as Orlando got two defensive touchdowns on a fumble and interception return from J. Lewis Small AFL Playmaker of the Game, Marcus Everett. Philadelphia got a fourth-down scoring strike from Raudabaugh to McDaniel and the first quarter ended with the Predators leading 14-7.
The Soul then went on to outscore the Predators 34-0 as the Philadelphia defense stepped up and got three turnovers in the second quarter - an interception from LaRico Stevenson and two turnovers on downs. The Soul offense outscored the Predators 21-0 with touchdowns by Brackins, Ross and Thurman gave the Soul a 28-14 halftime lead.
The third quarter began with the Soul defense stepping up and forcing their third turnover on downs which led to Ross breaking out for a 44-yard touchdown run on the following possession to give Philadelphia a 34-14. Tiger Jones added an 11-yard touchdown to cap the third quarter scoring and gave the Soul a 40-20 lead.
In the final quarter, Philadelphia outscored Orlando 21-13 with two touchdowns by Brackins and one to Jones for a final score of 61-33.
The Soul travel to play the Iowa Barnstormers in Week 2 on Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m. ET at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network.
Storm Defeat Utah Blaze 77-64
The Tampa Bay Storm (2-1, 0-1) defeated the Utah Blaze (1-2, 0-1) Saturday evening at EnergySolutions Arena by a score of 77-64. Storm receiver Joe Hills had a record night setting the Storm single-game mark for most receiving yards in a game, and tied for third most in league history, with 259.
The Storm offense started off slow, only putting up seven points in the first quarter, but turned it around quickly. Storm quarterback Adrian McPherson completed 20-of-31 passes for 294 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Hills led all receivers with 259 yards on 16 receptions with five touchdowns. Greg Ellingson finished with two receptions for 20 yards, while Michael Lindsey has two receptions for 15 yards.
Brandon Thompkins paced the Blaze with 127 yards on eight receptions. He also had three kick returns for 85 yards, including a 53-yard return for a touchdown. Tommy Grady completed 23-of-38 passes for 355 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions, spreading the ball to four receivers. Tonight also marked the return of Aaron Lesue for the Blaze and he caught seven passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
The Storm returns home to the Tampa Bay Times Forum Friday, April 12 against the San Antonio Talons on Faith & Family Night. Kickoff is at 8:00 PM.

Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Wild Unable to Overcome Slow Start in Loss to Renegades
The Wichita Wild (4-1) suffered their first loss of the season in Kansas City to the Renegades (2-2) Saturday night in a final score, 40-36. The Wild opened the game sluggishly, going down 11 points in the first quarter alone. Although they were able to rally back in the second half with great contribution from quarterback Rocky Hinds, the Wild would not be able to overcome their mistakes on both sides of the ball, bringing an end to their perfect record.
Kansas City began the game with running back O.J. Simpson returning the opening kickoff to midfield followed two plays later with the Renegades throwing for a to give them a 7-0 lead. The Wild's ensuing drive ended with Hinds throwing an interception, but the Renegades were unable to capitalize on the turnover, missing their field goal attempt wide right. Wichita was able to shake off the slow start, driving to midfield but were unable to convert on fourth down and inches with a quarterback sneak attempt by Hinds. The next offensive possession for Wichita ended with a three and out deep in Wild territory leading to a Renegades kick return touchdown by Simpson. Kansas City tried to convert a two-point conversion, but Wichita defensive back Kiaree Daniels intercepted the pass and returned it to the opposite endzone providing the Wild with two points to trail the Renegades 13-2 as the first quarter came to a close.
The next Wichita drive was hampered by a long sack with the drive ending when a fake field goal did not gain enough yardage. Wild defensive back Chris Hemphill intercepted a pass on the next play, with Hinds capitalizing by eluding a stiff Renegades pass rush to find wide receiver Joe Kassanavoid open in the back left corner of the endzone for a touchdown, slicing Kansas City's lead to 13-9. The Renegades struck back quickly, however, running in a touchdown from four yards out, extending their lead to 19-9. Hinds and Kassanavoid continued their rapport, scoring a few plays later with a 10 yard touchdown pass, cutting the Kansas City lead to 19-16. On the very next play from scrimmage, defensive back Kendrick Harper recorded his third interception of the season, continuing the Wild momentum. Wichita drove down to the Kansas City three yard line, but time expired before Hinds was able to stop the clock, leaving the halftime score 19-16 in favor of the Renegades.
The Wild opened the second half by driving to the Renegades five yard line, but were unable to convert on a field goal. Kansas City followed it up a few plays later with a five yard touchdown run to push their lead to 26-16 over Wichita. The Wild offense responded quickly with Hinds connecting with wide receiver Rashad Daniels for a 23 yard touchdown pass, but the Renegades hit back immediately with a kickoff return touchdown, making the score 33-23. As the third quarter drew to an end, Hinds found running back Travis Ribbing open on a swing pass for a 12 yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 33-30.
The back and forth scoring continued in the fourth quarter, as Kansas City extended their lead to 40-30 with a 10 yard touchdown pass. With about six minutes left in the game, Hinds ran the ball in from five yards out, but kicker Alex Fambrough missed the extra point, leaving the score at 40-36 in favor of the Renegades. Kansas City proceeded to drive down the field on their next possession, but was hampered by a five yard offensive encroachment penalty, stalling the drive and forcing them to kick the ball back to Wichita. The final drive for the Wild ended, however, with Hinds throwing his second interception of the game, providing Kansas City with a 40-36 win over Wichita.
The Wild continue on the road next week, April 13th, in Bloomington, Illinois to take on the Edge for the second time this season.
Defenders Shelled by Bombers 50-31
The Oklahoma Defenders lost 31-50 to the Salina Bombers (2-1) on Saturday night in Salina. The Defenders are now 1-3 in the Champions Professional Indoor Football League. The Defenders actually had more total offense with 276 yards vs Salina's 233 total offense yards, but once again poor field position and penalties (12 penalties for 113 yards) hurt the Defenders. OKD was also 3 of 7 on fourth-down conversions and 3-5 on red-zone score chances.
Quarterback Rico Watkins was 15-36 for 206 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Running back Kingjack Washington had 10 carries for 46 yards and one touchdown. On defense, the Defenders were unable to stop the Bombers from scoring on any drive until the fourth quarter. The Defenders' defense did hold the Bombers in the fourth quarter to go four and out on the goal line with a turnover on downs, and the next drive held Salina to a field goal score. Linebacker BJ Hodshire had 5 solo and 5 assisted tackles including 3 tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Victor Clore had another sack this game for an 8-yard loss as well.
The Defenders next game is at home in one week. OKD will play the Mid-Missouri Outlaws on Sunday, April 14th at 2:05pm at the Tulsa Convention Center.

Indoor Football League
Big Fourth Quarter Propels Danger Past Texas
The Nebraska Danger decided that the best way to beat the Texas Revolution on Saturday night was to not let them have the ball in the fourth quarter.
Randy Bell ran for 85 yards and quarterback Jameel Sewell overcame a slow start to account for six second half touchdowns as the Danger defeated Texas 53-50 at the Heartland Events Center. The win moves Nebraska to 4-1 on the season and sets up a game with the Colorado Ice for the Intense Conference lead next Saturday in Fort Collins.
"That's a big win for our guys," Danger head coach Mike Davis said. "We thought Texas was playing about as well as anyone in the league and you never know what you're going to get coming off a bye week like we were. In this league, you take them any way you can get them. We'll take this one."
After the Revolution took a 34-30 lead with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter on Vondrell McGee's second touchdown of the night, the Danger used the powerful running of Randy Bell, two touchdown catches from Corey Surrency and a pair of big plays on special teams to keep the ball from Texas for over eight consecutive minutes of the fourth quarter. That stretch turned the four-point deficit into a 50-34 lead with 3:13 left in the game.
The Danger scored on three straight possessions in that stretch - getting Surrency's two scores, and a bruising 11-yard touchdown run from Bell where he ran over a Texas defender - while the Revolution fumbled one kickoff return and later Houston bounced a kick off of a Revolution player. Both balls were recovered by Marcus Barnett.
"I don't know that I've ever seen anything like that," Davis commented. "Those plays were big, but we hadn't been taking advantage of breaks all game. We finally did in the fourth quarter."
Both teams struggled to take control in a game that featured eight fumbles - all lost to the opponent. Nebraska recovered from a 12-point halftime deficit to lead 30-28 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Revolution controlled a first half that was marred by penalties, taking advantage of a pair of Danger turnovers for a 21-9 lead. Sewell was just 2-for-12 passing in the first half, before finishing 13-for-29 for 199 yards and five touchdowns. Texas, meanwhile, got three touchdown passes before halftime from quarterback Marcus Jackson. The reigning IFL player-of-the-week finished 18-for-24 for 231 yards and seven touchdowns.
Surrency led Nebraska with 70 yards receiving on five receptions. Jordan Jolly had five catches for 115 yards for the Revolution, which fell to 2-3.

Professional Indoor Football League
Hammers Win at Home over Columbus
The Alabama Hammers got a fast start Saturday night against the Columbus Lions in the Von Braun Center arena.
They built a 14-0 lead in the first four minutes and went on to rout Columbus 72-45 before 2,489 fans. The Hammers improved to 3-1 while the Lions fell to 1-2 in the Professional Indoor Football League. Alabama moved into a first-place tie with Albany, which the Hammers will host next Saturday night at 7 at the VBC.
"It was a good all-around performance of all three phases by our guys," Hammers coach Dean Cokinos said. "It was a good rebound game for us (after a 64-51 loss at Albany on March 23). For the most part, it was a good all-around game. We still turned the ball over too much on offense. They got three interceptions."
Despite the interceptions, Russel Hill completed 18-of-36 passes for 281 yards and eight touchdowns. "Mixed," Hill said of his night. "Did a lot of good things but I made too many mistakes. Just got to eliminate those and quit putting us in bad situations."
Mico McSwain made nine catches for 201 yards and five touchdowns. Jeremy Grier had four catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns.
"The first couple of games, I wasn't showing up and my coach challenged me," McSwain said. "I just had to prove to him I'm the player I know I am."
Said Grier, "I just went out there and tried to give it all I had. We were disappointed about losing the game at Albany. We just wanted to come out and show our fans and finish hard."
The Hammers got an early gift when Columbus botched its onside opening kick attempt, committing an offside penalty which put Alabama on the Lions' 4. Hill passed to Grier for the game's first points at 13:37 and Brian Jackson kicked the extra point.
The Lions' first play from scrimmage resulted in an interception by Alabama's TJ Drakeford. Two plays later, Hill threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to McSwain and the Hammers led 14-0 at 11:15.
Columbus answered with a two-play, 40-yard drive capped by Marcus Jones' 26-yard pass to Gerald Gales. Chandler Brooks' extra point made it 14-7 at 9:47.
Hill's 1-yard sneak restored the Hammers' two-touchdown lead. But Columbus got a 3-yard scoring pass from Jones to Maurice Dupree and the Lions trailed 21-14 after the first quarter.
The first half had a thrilling finish with McSwain's 40-yard, catch-and-run on the final play. Jackson's extra point put the Hammers up 42-21 at intermission.
The Hammers extended their lead to 62-27 in the third quarter. Alabama's touchdowns in the quarter included Grier's 6-yard catch, his recovery of a fumble in the end zone and McSwain's 38-yard reception. In the fourth, the Hammers added Jackson's 30-yard field goal and McSwain's 12-yard catch.
With the victory, the Hammers matched their win total from the 2012 season and moved into a tie for the league lead with Albany (3-1), which was upset at Knoxville Friday night.
"We've just got to regroup," Cokinos said. "We'll start our normal work week on Monday and get to work on Albany."

Ultimate Indoor Football League
Missouri Monsters Win Cross League Game Against Marion 47 to 39
The Missouri Monsters (2-2) came through on ownership guaranteed victory by beating the visiting Marion Blue Racers 47 to 39 at the Family Arena in front of 2,710 fans.
Monsters Quarterback Tavares Woodley was 24 for 36 with 305 yards, and 5 touchdowns.  Wide Receiver Gary Johnson led the Monsters in receptions with 10 catches for 100 yards, and 2 touchdowns, while Dello Davis led the team in receiving yards with 126 yards on 7 catches.  Easton Knott had 5 catches for 51 yards and 1 touchdown, Kevin Brown added 2 catches for 28 yards.
Defensive Lineman Bernard Quinn led the defense with 5.5 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 2.5 sacks.  Rodarious Whittier led in tackles with 6 tackles, 1 interception, and 2 fumble recoveries.
The Monsters face the defending UIFL Southern Conference Champions the Florida Tarpons on Sunday April 14th at the Family Arena.  Kickoff is set for 6:30 pm.

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