June 29, 2009 - American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) - Erie Explosion
June 28, 2009 (Erie, PA) - The Erie RiverRats closed out their 2009 campaign in convincing fashion with a 60-20 drubbing of the defending AIFA champion Florence Phantoms at the Tullio Arena in Erie.
Erie CB Dwaon Woodard made a strong case for AIFA All-Star consideration with three interceptions for the second consecutive week, including one returned for a touchdown in the first quarter which set the tone for a dominating team defensive performance throughout the game. Erie\'s defense limited Florence QB Richard Curtis to just 12 completions on 32 passes for 130 yards with five interceptions, and added five sacks, including three by LB Neal Wood, one of which resulted in a safety. Along with Woodard\'s three picks, LB Bernard Faithful and DB Taurean Valentine also recorded interceptions.
QB Kevin Mason looked like the championship quarterback of old making plays with both his arm and his feet. Mason attempted 17 passes with no interceptions, completing seven, with three of those connections for touchdowns all to WR Chris Kolokithas. In addition, he ran for a franchise-record 60 yards with two rushing touchdowns.
Erie got on the board quickly on the first possession of the game after a 10-yard run by Mason and took a 6-0 lead. Later in the first quarter, the Phantoms appeared to be headed for a go-ahead score when Woodard picked off a pass just just before the end zone and scampered along the sidelines 47 yards for an Erie touchdown which pushed the Florence deficit to 13-0 from which it would never overcome.
Florence QB Curtis connected with WR Torrey Pettigrew from 16 yards out and a successful 2-point conversion trimmed the deficit to 13-8 early in the second quarter. After a missed Erie field goal, the Rats defense forced Florence into turning the ball over on downs deep in their own territory, and on the very next play, Mason added his second rushing touchdown, this one from 7 yards out, to extend the lead back to 20-8. After a three-yard rushing touchdown by Florence RB Ray Johnson, Erie KE Trumaine Riley setup the Rats offense nicely with a 46-yard kickoff return. On the very next play, Mason connected with Kolokithas for a 4-yard hookup and the Erie lead was 27-14 which they took into intermission.
Florence had possession to start the second half, but the Erie defense, led by Woodard, stepped up in the third quarter to close out the game right away.
On the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Woodard picked off Phantoms QB Curtis for the second time, and Erie capitalized a short time later on a 10-yard strike from Mason to FB Brandon Richardson to push the lead to 20. Three plays later, Woodard did it for the third time, picking off a Curtis pass at the goalline to negate another scoring opportunity for Florence. On second down, Mason ran for 36 yards to the Florence 4-yard line and Richardson finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to extend the Erie lead to 41-14.
Then to top it off, the Erie defense forced incomplete passes on fourth down on two consecutive Florence drives, and two more touchdown receptions by Kolokithas provided Erie with a 55-14 cushion at the start of the fourth quarter sending the game into garbage time. For good measure, the Erie defense recorded a sack of Curtis in Florence\'s end zone for a safety, and PK Joe Lindway added a late 23-yard field goal to give Erie a season-high 60 points.
The evening\'s festivities featured a pregame ceremony to recognize three retiring warriors for the Rats. Defensive linemen DaJuan Smith and David Smith, as well as offensive lineman Anthony Peluso played their last games in Erie Saturday night capping over 13 years of playing professional football in Erie between the three of them.