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Columbus Destroyers game notes

May 4, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Columbus Destroyers News Release

QUICK FACTS:
Columbus Destroyers (1-12) at
New York Dragons (8-5)
Date: Saturday, May 7, 2005
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Site: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (11,985)
Officials: Bill McCabe, Referee; Mike Delaney, Umpire; Royce Cooley, Head Linesman; Dirk Bell, Line Judge; Jimmy Buchanan, Back Judge
Radio: Columbus’ flagship station WAZU-107.1 FM “The Big Wazoo” will broadcast the game live with Marty Bannister and Greg Frey.
Television: AFL Net/www.arenafootball.com
Series Record: The Dragons hold a 7-4 all-time series advantage over the Destroyers in 11 series meetings, including a 56-55 win over Columbus on March 26.
Series Streaks: The Dragons have won three out of the last four meetings. The Destroyers have lost three out of four games played in New York since 2001. The two teams have split the season series in each of the past two seasons. The Dragons escaped with a one-point win in week nine at Nationwide Arena.
Coaches: Columbus, Chris Spielman, 1st season (1-12 in 2005, 1-12 overall). New York, Weylan Harding, 1st season (8-5 in 2005, 8-5 overall).

OVERVIEW: The Destroyers have dropped ten consecutive games as the club travels to New York to face the Dragons, an Eastern Division rival, with hopes of playing the spoiler’s role as the playoff picture begins to take shape.

Destroyers QB Ryan Vena returned to the starting lineup after missing four weeks due to an ankle injury last week. However, his three touchdown passes and two rushing scores were not enough as the Austin Wranglers handed the Destroyers loss No. 12 on the season following a 22-yd field goal by kicker Todd Seivers as time expired, giving the Wranglers a 58-55 win.

The Destroyers face a Dragons team looking to secure a playoff spot with three weeks to go in the season. The Dragons, led by former Destroyers defensive coordinator Weylan Harding, improved their record to 8-5 and moved a half game ahead of Dallas in the Eastern Division with a 65-57 win over the Desperados in the Lone Star State last Friday night.

COLUMBUS DESTROYERS (1-12)
Date Opponent Time Result Record
1/28 NASHVILLE 7:00 L (47-38) 0-1
2/13 @ Dallas 3:00 L (35-31) 0-2
2/19 CHICAGO 7:00 W (52-39) 1-2
2/27 @ Grand Rapids 3:00 L (66-57) 1-3
3/06 @ Georgia 2:00 L (55-48) 1-4
3/12 LAS VEGAS 7:00 L (63-34) 1-5
3/20 @ Colorado 3:00 L (52-37) 1-6
3/26 NEW YORK 7:00 L (56-55) 1-7
4/03 PHILADELPHIA 12:00 L (62-45) 1-8
4/08 @ Arizona 10:00 L (70-53) 1-9
4/16 @ New Orleans 8:00 L (64-28) 1-10
4/22 DALLAS 7:00 L (55-33) 1-11
4/30 AUSTIN 7:00 L (58-55) 1-12
5/07 @ New York 7:00 - -
5/15 @ Philadelphia 1:00 - -
5/22 TAMPA BAY 3:00 - -
*All Times Eastern

NEW YORK DRAGONS (8-5)
Date Opponent Time Result Record
2/06 DALLAS 1:00 W (55-45) 1-0
2/11 @Las Vegas 10:00 L (41-37) 1-1
2/19 NASHVILLE 7:00 W (62-49) 2-1
2/27 ARIZONA 3:00 W (61-37) 3-1
3/06 @Philadelphia 12:00 W (61-54) 4-1
3/12 GEORGIA 7:00 W (53-51) 5-1
3/19 @Austin 8:30 L (57-47) 5-2
3/26 @Columbus 7:00 W (56-55) 6-2
4/02 CHICAGO 7:00 L (44-43) 6-3
4/10 @Los Angeles 3:00 L (66-35) 6-4
4/15 @Orlando 7:30 L (72-60) 6-5
4/24 PHILADELPHIA 1:00 W (51-37) 7-5
4/29 @Dallas 8:30 W (65-57) 8-5
5/07 COLUMBUS 7:00 - -
5/15 @Tampa Bay 1:00 - -
5/21 COLORADO 7:00 - -
*All Times Eastern

A COLUMBUS WIN OVER NEW YORK WOULD…

· Give the Destroyers their second win of the season
· Give the Destroyers their first road win of the season
· End the Destroyers’ current ten-game losing streak
· Hamper the Dragons’ playoff hopes
· Prevent the Destroyers from falling to 1-13 for the first time since the 1999 season

DESTROYERS Last Week:

Austin Wranglers 58 Columbus Destroyers 55

Todd Seivers kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired to give the Austin Wranglers a 58-55 victory over the Columbus Destroyers before a crowd of 14,064 at Nationwide Arena. With the win, Austin snapped a three-game losing streak and handed Columbus its 10th consecutive setback.

Seivers' heroics offset a Columbus comeback that saw the Destroyers erase a 55-41 fourth quarter deficit. After Austin's Dane Krager scored on a one-yard run at the 6:34 mark, Columbus' Damien Groce returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards for a touchdown. Steve Videtich's extra point brought the Destroyers to within seven at 55-48. Austin quarterback John Fitzgerald was intercepted by Jeremy Unertl on the next drive, setting up Ryan Vena's five-yard touchdown pass to Cornelius White with just :39 remaining. Videtich's extra point tied the game at 55-55.

Austin led 14-7 after the first quarter and built a 27-13 lead late in the second quarter when Fitzgerald hit Tacoma Fontaine from 23 yards out with :09 remaining in the first half. Columbus responded with a 36-yard strike from Vena to Groce on the game's next play to cut the lead to 27-20 at the half.

The Destroyers took the ensuing kickoff, drove down the field and tied the game at 27-27 on an eight-yard run by Wilmont Perry. The teams traded touchdowns on the second half's first six possessions before Columbus turned the ball over on downs trailing 48-41, which set up Krager's second touchdown of the night.

Columbus was led by Damien Groce, who made seven catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns and returned three kickoffs for 92 yards and a touchdown. Cornelius White added six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. Vena, making his first start since missing four games due to injury, completed 20-of-35 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. On defense, Brandon Hefflin made a game-high 11 tackles and broke up a pair of passes, while Sedrick Robinson made three tackles, intercepted a pass and returned four kickoffs for 110 yards.

The Wrangler attack was led by Fitzgerald, who completed 28-of-37 passes for 288 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. Darren Chiaverini made a game-high 11 catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns, while Kevin Nickerson added eight catches for 75 yards and a pair scores.

THIS WEEK’s OPPONENT:
The New York Dragons jumped back in first place in the Eastern Division following a 65-57 win over Dallas last Friday night. With the win, New York improved their record to 8-5 and moved a half game in front of the Desperados in the division.

The Dragons, led by first-year head coach Weylan Harding, got off to a quick start, winning six out of their first eight games of the season. New York however would then endure a three game losing streak including losses against Chicago, Los Angeles and Orlando as their record fell to 6-5 following week 12.

New York has re-captured their winning ways in recent weeks with wins over a pair of division rivals in Philadelphia and Dallas. The Dragons are currently one of eight teams in the playoffs if postseason play began this week. The Dragons have their work cut out for them to hold on to their playoff spot with games remaining against the Destroyers, with whom they squeaked by on March 26, the Tampa Bay Storm and Colorado Crush to close out the season.

LAST MEETING WITH NEW YORK:
Aaron Garcia hit Chris Anthony on a 12-yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter and New York's defense held off a late rally to give the Dragons a 56-55 win over the Columbus Destroyers on March 26. Ryan Vena completed 23 of 37 passes for 310, five touchdowns and two interceptions for the Destroyers. Vena gave way to Matt D'Orazio with 6:27 left in the fourth quarter. D'Orazio led the comeback bid with a 44-yard scramble and then scored on a quarterback keeper from one yard out to make the score 56-55. The Destroyers created a defensive stop to get the ball back with 0:37 remaining in the game, but New York's DeShane Dennis picked off D'Orazio's first down pass to seal the win.

ALL-TIME SERIES RESULTS VS IOWA/NEW YORK
Date Score
June 12, 1999 IOWA 49, BUFFALO 42
April 22, 2000 IOWA 56, BUFFALO 35
April 27, 2001 NEW YORK 70, BUFFALO 58
June 8, 2001 BUFFALO 58, NEW YORK 51
April 28, 2002 NEW YORK 69, BUFFALO 54
June 8, 2002 BUFFALO 40, NEW YORK 35
April 6, 2003 BUFFALO 46, NEW YORK 39
May 11, 2003 NEW YORK 49, BUFFALO 30
March 20, 2004 NEW YORK 62, COLUMBUS 41
April 10, 2004 COLUMBUS 65, NEW YORK 55
March 26, 2005 NEW YORK 56, COLUMBUS 55

DESTROYERS NOTABLES:

COLUMBUS DEALT 10th CONSECUTIVE SETBACK
The Destroyers have dropped ten consecutive games, dating back to week five when the team’s losing streak began with a loss to the Grand Rapids Rampage. Only one previous time have the Destroyers endured a longer losing streak. That honor goes to the 1999 squad that lost the first 12 games of the season.

PLAYING SPOILER
With a record of 1-12, the Destroyers are clearly not headed towards the playoffs. However, the club’s motivation in the final three games of the season is to spoil the chances of their opponents to reach postseason play. Two of the Destroyers’ final three opponents are in the playoff hunt entering this week’s action. New York and Tampa Bay are currently in and even Philadelphia, who is Columbus’ third opponent in their final three games, has an outside chance to sneak in. Spoiling the fortunes of New York, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay could be a sweet ending to what has otherwise been a disappointing 2005 season.

MAY DAYS
The Destroyers will likely welcome the month of May in the midst of a forgettable season. May was the only month last year the Destroyers finished with a record better than .500 as the team went 3-2 in the final month of play a season ago. Columbus looks to continue their success in May with the club’s first scheduled May game on Saturday in New York.

VENA RETURNS AS STARTING QB
Ryan Vena returned to the starting lineup last week after missing the previous four games with an ankle injury. He accounted for five TDs in the contest, however the Destroyers fell to the visiting Wranglers on a last-second field goal. Vena has made three stats this season, throwing for 846 yards and 12 touchdowns in the process.

GROCE TO BREAK FRANCHISE MARK
Columbus offensive specialist Damien Groce is on the brink of setting the Destroyers franchise record for most receiving yards in a single season with three games still to go. He currently has 1,123 yards receiving this season, 61 yards away from the single season standard set by Bobby Olive in 2000 (1,184). Groce has already set career highs in receiving yards, receptions (89), kick return yards (953) and kick return touchdowns (3).

DAMIEN’S SEEING TRIPLE…DIGITS
Last week OS Damien Groce had 108 yards receiving vs. Austin. Groce now holds the franchise record for most 100 yard receiving games in a single season with six, breaking the old mark of five set by Gunnard Twyner in 2003.
GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY
The Destroyers brought four quarterbacks into camp before the season with the likes of Chad Salisbury, Ryan Vena, Matt D’Orazio and Scott McMullen. All four signal callers have been given a chance to showcase their abilities on the field. Each QB has started at least one game this season, with D’Orazio making the most starts with seven so far.

NAME No. of Starts
Matt D’Orazio 7
Ryan Vena 3
Chad Salisbury 2
Scott McMullen 1

NO THIRD QUARTER GOOSE EGG
Entering last week’s game, the Destroyers had been held scoreless in the third quarter for three consecutive games. On Saturday versus Austin, Columbus put up 21 points on a pair of touchdowns runs and a passing score from Ryan Vena to Damien Groce. All three third quarter possessions resulted in a touchdown. The Destroyers have still been outscored 162-99 in the third.

LIFE IN THE SECOND HALF
The trend for the Destroyers this season has been to play well in the first half and fade in the second half. Last week, the club reversed that trend scoring 35 second half points, scoring touchdowns on five of six second half possessions. It was only the third time all season the Destroyers scored more second half points than first half points (wk 6 at Georgia, wk 10 vs Philadelphia).

TALE OF THE TAPE: Here’s how the Destroyers and Dragons match up after 14 weeks of play.

2005 LEAGUE TEAM RANKINGS – STAT (RANK)
Category Columbus New York
Scoring Offense 43.5 (16th) 52.8 (4th)
Scoring Defense 55.5 (15th) 51.2 (11th)
Total Offense 260.6 (16th) 261.8 (15th)
Total Defense 279.2 (8th) 301.1 (13th)
Pass Offense 237.7 (16th) 244.1 (14th)
Pass Defense 252.5 (5th) 276.6 (12th)
Rushing Offense 22.9 (6th) 17.7 (9th)
Rushing Defense 26.7 (16th) 24.5 (12th)
Field Goal Percentage 47.8 (T-8th) 41.7 (11th)
Kick Return Yards 1,771 (1st) 1,613 (2nd)
Kickoff Return Average 20.1 (3rd) 21.8 (1st)
Kick Return Touchdowns 6 (2nd) 7 (1st)
Kickoff Coverage 15.1 (1st) 16.8 (4th)
3rd Down Efficiency 48-113 (15th) 33-62 (1st)
4th Down Efficiency 15-33 (10th) 5-15 (15th)
Red Zone Offense 38-50 (17th) 41-53 (13th)
Red Zone Defense 49-59 (15th) 57-70 (11th)



OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
WEEK GAME RECIPIENT/TEAM
Week 1 1/28 vs NASH Leon Murray (Nashville)
Week 2 BYE
Week 3 2/13 at DAL Damien ‘Groce (Columbus)
Week 4 2/19 vs CHI Matt D’Orazio (Columbus)
Week 5 2/27 at GRR Michael Bishop (Grand Rapids)
Week 6 3/06 at GEO Troy Bergeron (Georgia)
Week 7 3/12 vs LVG Marcus Nash (Las Vegas)
Week 8 3/20 at COL John Dutton (Colorado)
Week 9 3/26 vs NYD Aaron Garcia (New York)
Week 10 4/03 vs PHI Tony Graziani (Philadelphia)
Week 11 4/08 at ARI Joe Germaine (Arizona)
Week 12 4/16 at NOV Andy Kelly (New Orleans)
Week 13 4/22 vs DAL Clint Stoerner (Dallas
Week 14 4/30 vs AUS Damien Groce (Columbus)
Week 15 5/07 at NYD 7 pm. (ET)
Week 16 5/15 at PHI 1 p.m. (ET)
Week 17 5/22 vs TBS 3 p.m. (ET)

ADT DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
WEEK GAME RECIPIENT/TEAM
Week 1 1/28 vs NASH Jarrick Hillery (Nashville)
Week 2 BYE
Week 3 2/13 at DAL Bobby Perry (Dallas)
Week 4 2/19 vs CHI Donvetis Franklin (Columbus)
Week 5 2/27 at GRR Dennison Robinson (Grand R.)
Week 6 3/06 at GEO Gillis Wilson (Georgia)
Week 7 3/12 vs LVG Jeremy Unertl (Las Vegas)
Week 8 3/20 at COL Damien Hughley (Colorado)
Week 9 3/26 vs NYD Donvetis Franklin (Columbus)
Week 10 4/03 vs PHI Eddie Moten (Philadelphia)
Week 11 4/08 at ARI Terrance Joseph (Arizona)
Week 12 4/16 at NOV B.J. Cohen (New Orleans)
Week 13 4/22 vs DAL Hamin Milligan (Dallas)
Week 14 4/30 vs AUS Cedric Walker (Austin)
Week 15 5/07 at NYD 7 pm. (ET)
Week 16 5/15 at PHI 1 p.m. (ET)
Week 17 5/22 vs TBS 3 p.m. (ET)

US ARMY IRONMAN OF THE GAME
WEEK GAME RECIPIENT/TEAM
Week 1 1/28 vs NASH Jarrick Hillery (Nashville)
Week 2 BYE
Week 3 2/13 at DAL Will Pettis (Dallas)
Week 4 2/19 vs CHI Cornelius White (Columbus)
Week 5 2/27 at GRR Dennison Robinson (Grand R.)
Week 6 3/06 at GEO Chris Demaree (Georgia)
Week 7 3/12 vs LVG Frank Carter (Las Vegas)
Week 8 3/20 at COL Willis Marshal (Colorado)
Week 9 3/26 vs NYD Chris Anthony (New York)
Week 10 4/03 vs PHI Sean Scott (Philadelphia)
Week 11 4/08 at ARI Jerald Brown (Arizona)
Week 12 4/16 at NOV Carl Bond (New Orleans)
Week 13 4/22 vs DAL Bobby Sippio (Dallas)
Week 14 4/30 vs AUS Kevin Nickerson (Austin)
Week 15 5/07 at NYD 7 pm. (ET)
Week 16 5/15 at PHI 1 p.m. (ET)
Week 17 5/22 vs TBS 3 p.m. (ET)
NEXT WEEK
Following Saturday’s game in New York, the Destroyers remain on the road, traveling to Philadelphia to face the Soul on Sunday, May 15. The Soul defeated the Destroyers, 62-45, on April 3 at Nationwide Arena. It will be the fourth all-time series meeting between the two teams with the Soul claiming a 3-0 advantage.

2005 PLAYOFF PICTURE

NATIONAL CONFERENCE
TEAM W L T PCT
*GEORGIA 9 4 0 .692
*NEW YORK 8 5 0 .615
ORLANDO 9 5 0 .692
TAMPA BAY 8 5 0 .615

NEW ORLEANS 8 5 0 .615
DALLAS 7 5 1 .577
PHILADELPHIA 6 8 0 .429
AUSTIN 5 9 0 .357
COLUMBUS 1 12 0 .077

AMERICAN CONFERENCE
TEAM W L T PCT
*LOS ANGELES 8 5 0 .615
*CHICAGO 8 5 0 .615
SAN JOSE 8 5 0 .615
COLORADO 8 5 0 .615

LAS VEGAS 7 6 0 .538
NASHVILLE 5 7 1 .423
ARIZONA 4 9 0 .308
GRAND RAPIDS 2 11 0 .154

*Division Leader

· Eight teams qualify for the playoffs
· 4 Teams qualify from each Conference
· 2 Division Champions from each Conference
· 2 Wild Card from each Conference (teams with the remaining best records within the Conference)
· Playoffs are separated into conferences with the Division Champions hosting First round games. The highest ranked Division champion hosts the lowest ranked Wild Card team and the second highest ranked Division Champion hosts the highest ranked Wild Card team.

DESTROYERS RECENT Transactions:

4/28/05: Activated QB Ryan Vena off IR; placed WR/DB Lenzie Jackson and OL/DL Ronnie Washburn on IR

4/25/05: Signed FB/LB Deon Dyer to practice squad

4/19/05: Activated DS Jeremy Unertl off Refused to Report

4/18/05: Placed OS Bobby Olive on injured reserve

4/15/05: Signed Justin Isom to the practice squad

4/14/05: Activated WR/DB Lenzie Jackson off injured reserve; placed DS Jeremy Unertl on Refused to Report

4/12/05: Waived DS Justin Isom

4/11/05: Awarded DS Jeremy Unertl off waivers

4/7/05: Activated lineman Norris McCleary off IR.

4/4/05: Waived wide receiver/defensive back Jason Waters

4/1/05: Placed quarterback Ryan Vena and wide receiver/defensive back Lenzie Jackson on injured reserve; signed quarterback Scott McMullen and wide receiver/linebacker Chris Curd off the practice squad; signed wide receiver/defensive back Jason Waters and quarterback Tommy Jones to the practice squad

3/23/05: Signed lineman Jon Hall to practice squad; placed fullback/linebacker Sedrick Irvin on injured reserve

3/18/05: Signed defensive specialist Justin Isom off the practice squad

3/17/05: Traded defensive specialist JoJo Polk to Grand Rapids for fullback/linebacker Sedrick Irvin; signed lineman Ronnie Washburn; activated lineman LaKendrick Jones; placed lineman Norris McCleary on injured reserve

3/3/05: Activated linemen Troy Pelshak and Bryan Ray off injured reserve; placed fullback/linebacker Chris Pope and lineman LaKendrick Jones on injured reserve

3/1/05: Signed wide receiver/linebacker Chris Curd to the practice squad

2/24/05: Signed offensive specialist Randall Lane off the practice squad

2/17/05: Activated fullback/linebacker Juan Long off injured reserve
COLUMBUS DESTROYERS 2005 RECORD WHEN…
HOME 1-6
AWAY 0-6
VS EASTERN 0-4
VS CENTRAL 1-3
VS WESTERN 0-2
VS SOUTHERN 0-3
JANUARY 0-1
FEBRUARY 1-2
MARCH 0-4
APRIL 0-5
MAY 0-0
AHEAD AT HALF 1-2
BEHIND AT HALF 0-8
TIED AT HALF 0-2
AHEAD AFTER 3RD QTR 1-1
BEHIND AFTER 3RD QTR 0-10
TIED AFTER 3RD QTR 0-1
PLUS TURNOVER RATIO 1-1
EVEN TURNOVER RATIO 0-3
MINUS TURNOVER RATIO 0-8
MORE TOTAL OFFENSE 1-3
LESS TOTAL OFFENSE 0-9

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