Defense prevails again, Wranglers win 53-34
A new game-high three interceptions for Damon Mason and three rushing touchdowns for Dane Krager gave the Austin Wranglers their second win of the season, 53-34. A 10,205 crowd at the US Airways Arena witnessed a defensive outburst by the Wranglers this evening.
Earning the Defensive Player of the Game for the second straight week was Mason who had three interceptions, four tackles and three pass breakups on the night.
Also taking honors were QB John Fitzgerald who earned the Offensive Player of the Game who was 16-of-29 for 122 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added one touchdown on the ground. The Ironman was FB/LB Dane Krager who had another great game adding 22 yards on nine carries and three touchdowns.
The Wranglers won the toss and deferred, giving the Rattlers the first possession of the ball game. Rattlers all-star QB Shederick Bonner was sidelined due to a shoulder injury, giving Travis Cole the start tonight. Not wasting much time, Rattlers kicker Gary Kral hit a 54-yard field goal giving the Rattlers the early lead.
On the Wranglers first possession, they capped off an eight play drive with a Krager six-yard touchdown run, his second of the season.
With the Rattlers unable to convert on a fourth down try, the Wranglers got the ball back on Arizona's 10 yard line. The Wranglers demonstrated that their kicking game is also effective, with kicker Todd Sievers hitting a 20-yard field goal to set the score at 10-3.
Arizona gambled several times on fourth down, leading to Austin's good field position. Down near the goal line, the Wranglers utilized their running game as Fitzgerald punched the ball in for a one-yard touchdown run to extend their lead, 17-3. Mason notched his first interception of the game, which led to a second Sievers field goal, this time from 26 yards out.
Letting the kicker do most of the work, as the Rattlers were struggling in their passing game, Kral was again good on a 37-yard field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, Kral nailed the kick off the iron and WR/LB Cosmo DeMatteo picked up the ball and ran in for the two-yard net recovery with two seconds remaining, narrowing the Wranglers lead to seven points.
Making a switch at quarterback, starting the second half with rookie Dennis Gile, he was rattled early with another Mason interception. With the momentum back, the Wranglers began the second half scoring with an electrifying Fitzgerald to WR/DB Kevin Nickerson 20-yard touchdown pass, for the first TD pass of the night.
Trying to find some rhythm, Gile found WR/DB Randy Gatewood in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown, their first offensive touchdown of the game.
Again going to the running game, Krager went in for his second touchdown of the game, a one-yard run.
Krager found the end zone less than two minutes later thanks to a third Mason interception.
With the Wranglers ferrous defense coming to play again tonight, one quarterback hurry and two quarterback sacks from linemen Angel Rubio and Aaron Humphrey led to Arizona turning the ball over on downs, deep in their territory. Back on offense, Fitzgerald found a diving WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini for the three-yard score, extending their lead to 47-20.
With a lull in the scoring, with 2:10 left, Gile dove in the end zone for a one-yard touchdown run for the Rattlers, 47-27.
In his first game for the Wranglers, Josh White made his presence felt on defense with a sack and then he took the ensuing possession in for a three-yard touchdown.
The Rattlers closed out the scoring with a three-yard touchdown pass to WR/LB Wilson Thomas, but it was not enough as the Wranglers win 53-34.
With the Wranglers winning in just the first of their five game road trip, they will travel next week to Kansas City to take on the Brigade in a Sunday match up at 2:00 p.m.
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