Mountain Lions Finish Season with Win
Friday night, the Sacramento Mountain Lions came from behind to defeat the Omaha Nighthawks in overtime, 25-19, in the 2011 United Football League season finale for both teams.
With the victory in Friday night's consolation game, Sacramento finished the season in third place in the UFL.
The contest got off to a slow start, as Sacramento's opening drive chewed up almost 10 minutes of game time. The Mountain Lions methodically marched down field and took a 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal by kicker Jose Martinez.
When Omaha got the ball for the first time, Nighthawks quarterback Troy Smith, making his first UFL start, did not get the team off on a positive note as he was intercepted on his second passing attempt of the game. Smith's pass was tipped by wide receiver Chris Davis and landed in the hands of Sacramento cornerback Ronnie Prude. The Mountain Lions turned Omaha's error into a Martinez 30-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to extend their lead to 6-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Omaha running back Garrett Wolfe returned the ball to the Sacramento 21-yard line with a league-record 70-yard return. The Nighthawks were able to turn their excellent field position into a 25-yard field goal by Jeff Wolfert to cut Sacramento's lead to 6-3.
Another return set up Omaha with prime field position once again after UFL Defensive Player of the Year Stuart Schweigert intercepted Sacramento quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and returned it to the Mountain Lions' 6-yard line. The Nighthawks were stifled on three straight rushing attempts, only moving forward three yards. However, Omaha elected to go for it on fourth down, and Smith rolled to his left before connecting with wide receiver Andrew Brewer for a 3-yard touchdown pass to give the Nighthawks their first lead at 10-6 lead.
Sacramento answered quickly with a big play on their next drive, as Bethel-Thompson hooked up with wide receiver Kenny Moore on a 47-yard completion to the Nighthawks 34-yard line. The Mountain Lions were unable to convert another first down but were able to convert a 45-yard field goal by Martinez to bring the score to 10-9 in favor of Omaha.
The Nighthawks closed out the first-half scoring when Smith connected with wide receiver Chad Lucas on an 81-yard touchdown pass to stretch the Omaha lead to 17-9 with just more than five minutes left until halftime.
Sacramento took advantage of Omaha's missed 47-yard field goal on the Nighthawks first possession of the second half, which gave the Mountain Lions the ball at the 37-yard line. Sacramento drove to the Omaha 10-yard line, but the Nighthawk defense held the Mountain Lions to their fourth field goal of the day, a 27-yarder to make the score 17-12 with just more than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Mountain Lions got the ball back just before the end of the third quarter after an Omaha punt but were pinned deep in their own territory. After failing to earn a first down, Sacramento was forced to punt; however, they could not get the kick off as Omaha wide receiver Sam Aiken burst through the middle of the Mountain Lions' line to block the punt. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety which gave the Nighthawks a 19-12 lead.
While Omaha appeared to be in control for much of the fourth quarter, the Nighthawks were unable to add to their lead which left Sacramento with an opportunity to come back. The Mountain Lions worked their way deep into Nighthawks territory late in the fourth quarter and scored on a 3-yard run by running back Cory Ross to tie the game at 19 with 2:39 remaining in the game.
When the Nighthawks got the ball back, they were unable to manufacture much offense and were forced to punt the ball away to Sacramento with 1:26 left to play. The Mountain Lions also failed to generate a would-be winning scoring drive and punted it back to Omaha, who knelt the ball to run out the remaining 13 seconds and send the game to overtime.
Both Sacramento and Omaha failed to score on their first two possessions of overtime. The Mountain Lions took over the ball for the third time with 3:39 remaining in the extra period. Sacramento had pushed to the Nighthawks 23-yard line when Ross exploded through the defensive line and scampered into the end zone for the game winning touchdown.
Omaha was led offensively by Smith, who completed 17-of-33 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Nighthawks running back Shaud Williams had 16 carries for 60 yards to lead all rushers. Sacramento was led by quarterback Bethel-Thompson, who completed 32-of-58 passes for 355 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Ross had two touchdowns for the Mountain Lions to go along with his 56 yards on 20 carries.
United Football League Stories from October 22, 2011
- Virginia Beats Vegas 17-3 To Win UFL Championship Game - Virginia Destroyers
- Mountain Lions Finish Season with Win - Sacramento Mountain Lions
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