af2 Week One Recaps
April 3, 2007 - arenafootball2 (af2) News Release
THURSDAY, MARCH 29
Bakersfield Blitz 58, LAREDO LOBOS 52 (Attendance: 2,454)
LAREDO, Texas - The visiting Bakersfield Blitz (1-0) held off the expansion Laredo Lobos (0-1), 58-52, in the af2's 2007 season opener on Thursday night at the Laredo Entertainment Center. The game was a back-and-forth affair that came right down to the final minute. Bakersfield WR Rennard Reynolds got free from rookie DB Jacques Richardson for a 45-yard completion down to the 1-yard line with time running down. That long pass play set up FB Nick Onaindia's game-winning scoring run. The Lobos and Blitz traded touchdowns and leads well into the fourth quarter. The game ended on an interception by Blitz WR/DB Nathan Munson as time expired. Munson had an excellent overall game with 4.0 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a 56-yard kick return for a touchdown. DL Ben McCombs led the Blitz defense with 3.0 sacks. Bakersfield rotated quarterbacks Chad Elliot and Neist in the game. Elliot began the game and played in seven offensive series, throwing two interceptions and two touchdowns and drove the team for a rushing score. Neist (Schutt Offensive Player of the Game) played six series, mostly in the second half, and finished with two scores and an interception. Blitz WR/DB DeRonn Finley scored a game-high five touchdowns, three receiving and two rushing. Laredo was led in defeat by WR/DBs Edward Giddings and LaRon Ragsdale, who earned U.S. Army Ironman of the Game and ADT Defensive Player of the Game honors, respectively.
FRIDAY, MARCH 30
Boise Burn 57, LOUISVILLE FIRE 52 (Attendance: 9,678)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Boise Burn (1-0) extinguished the Louisville Fire (0-1) Friday night as the first-year team scored a solid 57-52 road win against the favored Fire in front of 9,678 fans at Freedom Hall. The teams traded touchdowns for the first 20 minutes of the contest before Boise put up 17 unanswered points to take a 37-21 lead early in the third quarter. Burn QB Bart Hendricks managed the game efficiently, going 21-of-33 for 211 yards and four touchdowns to earned the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game Award. WR/DB Brandon Hazenburg (ADT Defensive Player of the Game) was the difference-maker for Boise, however, picking off two Joel Steele passes, one of which Hazenburg returned for a touchdown, crushing any momentum the Fire tried to build after halftime. Burn WR/DB Lee Marks was also impressive in his af2 debut with 55 yards receiving on four catches, including two touchdowns, and eight total tackles on defense. He earned U.S. Army Ironman of the Game honors for his strong all-around effort. Louisville did have a bright spot in the third quarter when DB Matt Forbes picked off a Hendricks pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown. The interception was the 28th of Forbes' career, making him the af2's new all-time leader in interceptions. Fire veteran FB Demetrius Forney also recorded a game-high three rushing touchdowns in the loss.
TENNESSEE VALLEY VIPERS 44, Alabama Steeldogs 27 (Attendance: 4,854)
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Tennessee Valley Vipers (1-0) defeated the Alabama Steeldogs, 44-27, in both teams' season opener Friday night at the Von Braun Center. The win was the Vipers' 12th against the Steeldogs in 14 all-time meetings. One of the few high points for the Steeldogs came on their opening drive when Alabama went 31 yards on seven plays, capped off with a two-yard run by QB Robert Kent. On the next play, Travis Blanchard returned Alabama's kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown, and from that moment on, it was all Tennessee Valley. Vipers QB Tony Colston looked solid against Alabama's defense, going 13-of-22 for 104 yards and three scores. The Vipers defense, however, was especially impressive. The team picked off Kent twice, and OL/DL Anthony Andriano gave the Steeldog quarterback fits all night, racking up a game-high 2.5 sacks. Another defender who shut down Alabama was DB Quentin Burrell, who earned the ADT Defensive Player of the Game with a game-high 6.0 tackles, a 16-yard interception return for a touchdown, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups. Blanchard earned U.S. Army Ironman of the Game accolades for his strong two-way play which included one rushing touchdown, one kick return TD, three pass receptions and 176 all-purpose yards.
SATURDAY, MARCH 31
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PIONEERS 50, Manchester Wolves 36 (Attendance: 5,110)
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers looked impressive early and stayed strong late to overtake the Manchester Wolves, 50-36, Saturday night in front of a home-opening crowd of 5,110 at Wachovia Arena. Veteran signal caller Ryan Vena, who had a record-breaking season for the Albany Conquest in 2006 (4,520 passing yards), was impressive in his Pioneer debut. Vena earned the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game Award, completing 21-of-38 passes for 207 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. His favorite target was WR Tyreak Saviour, who had a strong showing with 10 catches for 85 yards and three scores. Vena's strong start, coupled with Manchester starting QB Brian Zbydniewski's early struggles, led the Pioneers to run out to a 23-6 halftime edge and a 30-6 advantage early in the third quarter. The Wolves wouldn't go away, however, thanks to WR Ari Confesor's three touchdown catches in the second half. Manchester cut the deficit to as close as seven points (43-36) with 49 seconds left, but the Wolves' ensuing onside kick was scooped up by Larry Kendrick and returned 15 yards for a touchdown. The Pioneers swept the post-game awards as FB/LB Joe Hollister collected the ADT Defensive Player of the Game, OL/DL Doug Harding earned the U.S. Army Ironman of the Game and WR Jim Jones snagged the Cutters Catch of the Game.
FORT WAYNE FUSION 36, Green Bay Blizzard 28 (Attendance: 5,133)
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The first-year Fort Wayne Fusion got off to a great start to their inaugural af2 season by scoring a 36-28 home win on Ford Field against the defending American Conference Champion Green Bay Blizzard. Rookie QB Cody Hodges, acquired in a trade with Oklahoma City earlier in the week, threw four touchdown passes and ran for another in his af2 debut. Fort Wayne led 29-7 early in the fourth quarter thanks to Hodges capably directing the offense and the defensive line dominating Green Bay. The Fusion got off to a great start, scoring three times in the first half to take a 19-0 lead into intermission. The team's defense also did its part, holding the Blizzard scoreless through the game's first 30 minutes thanks to a strong pass rush that forced three sacks. Green Bay finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter on an 8-yard scoring pass from QB Ryan Hawk to WR Scott Burnoski. Hodges threw two touchdowns for Fort Wayne in the final period of play to put the game out of reach. The Fusion swept the game awards as Hodges earned Schutt Offensive Player of the Game, WR/DB Cesare Manning (6 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD, 3.0 tackles) earned U.S. Army Ironman of the Game, DL A.J. Lindsay (2.0 tackles, 1.0 sack) earned ADT Defensive Player of the Game and WR Jermaine Jackson snagged the Cutters Catch of the Game.
MAHONING VALLEY THUNDER 48, Tri-Cities Fever 40 (Attendance: 5,984)
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The expansion Mahoning Valley Thunder (1-0) had a successful af2 debut Saturday night in front of a packed house of 5,984 fans at the Chevrolet Centre, holding off fellow first-year team Tri-Cities, 48-40. Thunder WR Chris Archie caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from QB Glen Gauntt to break a 27-27 tie in the fourth quarter. Guantt then connected with WR Kenny Johnson with 8:17 left in the game to put Mahoning Valley ahead by two scores, 41-27. Gauntt finished 16-of-33 for 163 yards and four touchdowns in his Thunder debut. Brian Baker finished 24-of-39 for 286 and five scores for the Fever (0-1). J.R. Thomas of the Fever led all receivers with 12 catches for 97 yards and four touchdowns. Gauntt and Archie hooked up in the first quarter for 16-yard touchdown strike and Tim Frost added a 3-yard scamper in the second quarter, the first passing and rushing touchdowns in Thunder history. Frost (2 rushing TDs, 1.0 tackle) was named U.S. Army Ironman of the Game, Archie (9 catches, 88 yards, 2 TDs) earned Schutt Offensive Player of the Game, and Anton Ceaser (1.0 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR) was named ADT Defensive Player of the Game.
Quad City Steamwheelers 81, CINCINNATI JUNGLE KATS 21 (Attendance: 4,853)
CINCINNATI, Ohio - The Quad City Steamwheelers looked much improved as they defeated the Cincinnati Jungle Kats in convincing fashion, 81-21, Saturday night in front of 4,853 fans at U.S. Bank Arena. Quad City drew first blood with 2:15 gone in the opening quarter as FB Jermaine Petty rushed for a 6-yard score. The extra point try sailed wide, giving the Steamwheelers a 6-0 lead. The Jungle Kats responded immediately, however, when Deontrae Johnson caught a pair of passes, a 41-yard strike followed by a 4-yard catch for a score, making it 7-6 Kats with 11:10 to play in the 1st quarter. Quad City, however, scored the next two touchdowns to close out the opening quarter ahead, 20-7. Cincinnati started the second quarter with a TD pass from QB Eddie Eviston to Derin Graham to trim the Steamwheelers lead to 20-13. Quad City, however, would respond in a big way, scoring 27 unanswered points to close out the half. QB J.J. Raterink tossed three touchdowns and ran for another in the second quarter, putting the Steamwheelers up big at the break, 47-13. Quad City Steamwheelers wide-outs Thomas Anthony, Jack Walker Jr., and Shonn Bell each caught TD passes in the second. The Steamwheelers continued their surge into the second half, scoring three more times, two on catches by WR Kris Peters. In total, Quad City outscored Cincinnati 44-8 over the final 30 minutes. Peters finished the night with a game-high 10 catches for 155 yards and four touchdowns to earn Schutt Offensive Player of the Game honors. Bell earned the U.S. Army Ironman of the Game. Cincinnati's Luke Scarborough earned ADT Defensive Player of the Game honors.
SOUTH GEORGIA WILDCATS 47, Arkansas Twisters 31 (Attendance: 4,215)
ALBANY, Ga. - Wildcats QB D. Bryant threw for 162 yards and four touchdowns, and QB Julian Reese added a touchdown pass as South Georgia (1-0) battled back from an 11-point third quarter deficit to overtake Arkansas (0-1) in their season opener, 47-31. The Wildcats outscored Arkansas Twisters 20-0 in the final 15 minutes, paced by Bryant's two TD passes. FB Derrick Lloyd capped off the team's scoring with a 2-yard run with just over 4 minutes to play. South Georgia scored first on a Lloyd 4-yard run, and then Arkansas went on a 17-point surge to take a 24-7 lead late in the second period. The Wildcats added a score when Reese hit WR/DB Tavaris Capers with a 25-yard pass that closed the gap at the half to 11, 24-13. The second half was all South Georgia. The Wildcats run began with 10:37 left in the third period as Bryant hit Capers with a 7-yard pass for a score. When Arkansas took over, QB Brian Villanueva found Kevin Williams with a 6-yard pass for what would prove to be the Twisters last score of the night. The win marks South Georgia's first season-opening win since moving from Cape Fear to Albany in 2005. The win was also Derek Stingley's first as the Wildcats head coach. Villanueva threw for 301 yards and five touchdowns for Arkansas while Errick McCown led the Twisters receivers with 11 catches for 114 and one touchdown. South Georgia WR Scott Cloman also caught 11 passes for 104 yards, including two touchdowns.
FLORIDA FIRECATS 55, Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz 22 (Attendance: 6,537)
ESTERO, Fla. - The Florida Firecats began the 2007 season at home with a convincing 55-22 win over the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz in front of 6,537 fans at Germain Arena. The Firecats (1-0) defense set the tone early as U.S. Army Ironman of the Game Brent Burnside came up with an interception on Oklahoma City's opening drive. The Yard Dawgz (0-1), however, would take the early 2-0 lead after sacking Florida QB Chris Wallace for a safety just seconds later. Florida got into a groove on the next two possessions to take a 14-2 lead with four minutes to go in the 1st quarter. The teams would trade scores to start the 2nd as the Yard Dawgz were able to pull within five points, trailing 21-16 with just five minutes to go until halftime. Wallace then hooked up with WR Magic Benton and Schutt Offensive Player of the Game Ethenic Sands to take a commanding 42-16 lead late in the third quarter. Oklahoma City turned to rookie QB Jared Romo to replace starter Stan Hill to try and spark some offense for the Dawgz. Both QBs had 1-yard touchdown runs in the game but only managed one touchdown pass between them. The duo combined to complete just 22-of-41 attempts for 187 yards, but also threw five interceptions and went 0-for-9 on third downs. Wallace threw two more TD passes in the final quarter to finish the night with eight overall, going 21-of-29 for 268 yards. ADT Defensive Player of the Game Levy Brown, who had two interceptions, had to share some of the spotlight with rookie Tony Stubbs who picked off a pair of errant passes in the 4th quarter. Brown also tallied a game-high 9.0 tackles.
SPOKANE SHOCK 51, Stockton Lightning 35 (Attendance: 10,653)
SPOKANE, Wash. - The 2006 ArenaCup Champion Spokane Shock picked up where they left off in late August, with another win - this time defeating the Stockton Lightning on opening night, 51-35, in front of 10,653 fans at Spokane Arena. Head Coach Adam Shackleford stuck to his game plan, distributing the ball to a wealth of receivers with short, quick passes to avoid the penetrating pass rush of the Lightning. Three receivers (Antwone Savage, Chico Mackey, and Raul Vijil) had multiple catches combining for 162 yards and 18 receptions. Shock QB Andrico Hines was honored as the Offensive Player of the Game after passing for three touchdowns and 168 yards with only one interception. Defensively, the Shock made a statement and produced four turnovers (two fumble recoveries and two interceptions). The defense seemed to take the wind out of the Lightning's sails with 13:59 left to go in the third quarter. After advancing the ball to the 1-yard line, the Shock stuffed the Lightning's offense on four straight goal-line attempts. Stockton's offense was led by former Shock QB Derrick Crudup. Crudup accounted for five touchdowns and passed for 255 yards. The Lightning also got solid outings from receivers Kenyatte Morgan and Sale' Key, who combined for 233 yards of the Stockton's 253 total yards. Spokane fan favorite, DB Rob Keefe, earned ADT Defensive Player of the Game honors with two interceptions. Stockton WR/LB Vernon Smith was named U.S. Army Ironman of the Game for his strong two-way play.
TULSA TALONS 61, Everett Hawks 30 (Attendance: 3,952)
TULSA, Okla. - The Talons started their eighth season with a 61-30 home over the Everett Hawks Saturday night. It was Tulsa's first win in a season opener since 2003. The Talons took advantage of numerous miscues and penalties from the Hawks and jumped out to a 24-0 lead after one quarter en route to a 38-6 lead at the half. While the Hawks scored just once in the first 30 minutes, the Talons scored on all six possessions. Five of the drives culminated in touchdowns. QB Josh Blankenship threw three touchdowns in the first half, including two to WR Andre Forde. Two of Tulsa's scores were the result of Everett fumbles. In the second half, the Hawks settled down a bit and actually outscored the Talons, 24-23. Tulsa's lead, however, was too large to overcome as the home team capped off the night with a Jeff Hughley 43-yard interception return for a touchdown as time expired. Blankenship threw five touchdowns on the night to earn the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game Award. Tulsa DB Delenell Reid was recognized as the ADT Defensive Player of the Game with 8.0 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups. Everett's LaMonte Jones stood out as well, earning the U.S. Army Ironman of the Game Award with 166 all-purpose yards (12 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD, 75 kick return yards) and 1.5 tackles.
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