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Conquest Can’t Tame Wolves, Drop First Division Contest

April 21, 2003 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Albany Firebirds News Release

The Mohegan Wolves overcame a 14-point defecit, along with one of the best all-around performances by Albany standout offensive specialist Corey Hill, to earn their first-ever victory over the Conquest, 52-45, Friday night at Mohegan Sun Casino Resort.

Albany (2-1) jumped out 14-0 on a 29-yard strike from Ryan Vena to Hill, followed by Vena’s 1-yard plunge to end the first quarter. Vena, who came into the game as the league’s 2nd leading rusher, was held to just seven yards on five carries, but did record his fifth rushing score of the season.

Mohegan (3-0) took the momentum of the game during the second quarter, putting together a 23-0 scoring run and leading 23-14 before Vena found Adriel Linyear in the back of the endzone just before halftime, sending it into the locker rooms, 23-21, in favor of the Wolves.

Mohegan pushed their lead to 32-21 out of the gates when Mel Long hauled in his second touchdown of the day, this one a 5-yard pass from back-up signal-caller Ryan Tracy. Tracy replaced starter Mike Bath, who left the game after taking a pounding from the Albany pass rush in the first half (three sacks).

Hill then did something even he had never done as a member of the Conquest when he returned a kickoff 51-yards for a touchdown and got his team back within five points. The Conquest had not returned any kick for a score in their entire team’s existence. The return was Hill’s third of his career and gave Albany a spark of life midway through the third quarter.

Albany’s defense needed one more stop for a chance at the win. Three Mohegan touchdowns offset two Conquest scores and a Chris Drennan field goal to give Mohegan a 52-45 lead with 2:30 to play and the ball.

Tracy then threw a second down pass into the endzone, but once again Albany defensive specialist Elijah Beamon made a criticial fourth quarter interception. Beamon’s second pick of the season, combined with a Wolves unsportsmanlike penalty, gave the Conquest the ball on their own 15 with a chance to tie or win the game.

Vena completed his first pass for eight yards to Hill. Then on second and two, Vena lofted a pass down the sideline, into the endzone, right into the arms of Linyear. Though Linyear appeared to come down in the endzone with control of the ball, the official ruled that the pass was incomplete, not citing whether the ball was loose, or if Linyear had stepped on the line. On third down a defensive pass interference call gave Albany an automatic first down on the Wolves 18.

The final series of the game saw Vena throw three straight passes to Phil Taylor, none of which were called complete, but two that were questionable. On fourth down Vena found Hill for an 11-yard pass completion, or so the Conquest thought. Hill was ruled that he had bobbled the ball and caught it off of the barrier board, incomplete. In arena football, a player is allowed to catch the ball of the boards, as long as his feet remain in bounds.

Hill finished the game with 12 receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns, while returning kicks for another 144 yards. The 275 total yards marks the most this season for Hill, who set the all-time pro football record with 161 catches in 2002.

Mohegan took over after the call and ran out the clock to give them their first ever win against the Conquest and a first-place record of 3-0. Albany plays host to the Wolves twice later in the season at the Pepsi Arena, where they are 8-2 lifetime.

The Conquest have a bye this week, followed by three straight road games (Wilkes-Barre, Cincinnati and Rochester), before returning home on Friday, May 23rd. Tickets can be purchased by calling 487-2222 or visit www.albanyconquest.com for more information.

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