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Drillers win a big one in Utah

June 7, 2004 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL) - Beaumont Drillers News Release


WEST VALLEY CITY, UT -- The Beaumont Drillers went on the road to West Valley City, Utah and defeated the defending Pacific West Champion Utah Warriors in a thrilling come-from-behind overtime battle 84-77 on June 5 inside the E-Center. With the win combined with the Tupelo loss to Lake Charles, the Drillers are now in sole possession of second place at 7-4 and control their own playoff destiny with 3 remaining games. The win was also a Beaumont-franchise record, 7, and a franchise best 84 points scored in a single game.

The Drillers took their first lead of the game with 1:43 remaining, 70-63, before finding themselves up by seven, 77-70 with 0:03 seconds remaining with Utah facing a 4th and goal from the four. Doug Smith found Emmett White in the endzone to send the game into overtime. Once there, the Warriors won the toss and elected to play defense giving the Drillers the ball first. Facing a 4th and 11 from their own 24-yard line, Marc Saldana connected with Chad Luttrull on a 13-yard pass for a crucial 4th down conversion. Two-plays later, Anthony "AJ"Johnson scored his third rushing touchdown of the game followed by a Darren Brown extra-point to give them an 84-77 lead. On Utah’s first offensive play in OT, Troy Espirit intercepted Smith to end the game.

"This was one heckava football game," said Driller head coach Bryan Blake. "I just wish our fans could have seen this one."

The Drillers committed five-first half turnovers and found themselves down 46-23 at the mid-way point. “We made some big adjustments in the second-half," said Blake, "“but this game is all about adjustments. I was very concerned at halftime. After the plane ride over on Saturday (at 6 a.m.), it took a lot out of them. I had to convince them they weren’t tired and to stop feeling sorry for themselves and it would turn around. And it did.”

Saldana finished the game with career-high nine total touchdowns: seven passing (tied career high), and two rushing. He was 18 of 29 for 259 yards (career-high) with one interception. “He had a career night, and most of that came into the second-half. He has continued to improve over the last couple of weeks.” Receiver Pat Palmer also tied a career-high with 3 touchdown receptions, finishing with 6 for 102, including two, 2-point conversion receptions. Luttrull sprained his right ankle late in the 2nd quarter, but returned in the 4th to finish with 4 catches for 70 yards and two scores. Jackie Warren (4-50 yards) and DJ Clay (2-26) also had touchdown catches.

Jacobi Austin filled in for the team's leading tackler, Eric Winchester, at linebacker on short notice. “I thought he played well, filling in for Eric," said Blake. "I had to teach him coverages in a matter of hours before the game."

Former WO-S product Roy Locks led the Driller defense with 5.5 tackles including 2.5 for a loss (-13 yards), 1.5 sacks (-11 yards), 2 pass break-ups and 1 blocked kick. Randy Chappell and Espirit each added an interception.

Warrior quarterback Doug Smith started for Utah (5-7) after missing two games due to a shoulder injury, finishing with 167 yards on 15 of 21 attempts with two picks and five touchdowns, but was taken out of the game after a big halftime lead to be replaced by Cole Cooper, who completed only 1 pass on 5 attempts. Smith returned later in the 4th. Warrior running-back Emmett White did his part amassing 383 total yards and six touchdowns, most of which were return yards (224).

Beaumont outscored Utah 54-31 (41-14 run in the 2nd half) in the final two quarters plus overtime to get the win. Both teams combined for 161 points, 544 yards and 45 first downs. Beaumont outgained Utah 285-259.

“This definitely shows we have a lot of heart, and we deserve to be into the playoffs.”

The Drillers have now won 3-straight road games.

**OFFENSIVE PLAYER of the WEEK NOMINEE- QB Marc Saldana, 9 total touchdowns, 18 of 29 passing for 259 yards with 7 TDs, plus 2 rushing TDs. He also completed two, 2-point conversion passing attempts.

**DEFENSIVE PLAYER of the WEEK NOMINEE- DL Roy Locks, 5.5 total tackles including 2.5 for a loss of 13 yards, 1.5 sacks (-11 yards), 1 blocked field goal and two pass break-ups.

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