Fire Try to Avoid Being Conquered
Louisville KY- As the 2008 season winds down the Fire return home following a tough loss and a bye week to face the Albany Conquest on Saturday, July 12 at 7 P.M. Both teams are fighting for the playoffs. The Fire are currently the eight seed in the American Conference and the Conquest are on the outside looking in. Albany has not been eliminated from playoff contention but a lose to the Fire would eliminate them for the 2008 season.
The last time out Louisville dropped a last second 41-42 loss to the Mahoning Valley Thunder in the Chevrolet Centre. As the Fire attempted to tie the contest Thunder defensemen Mike Lane blocked Danny Kight's extra point. A failed on-side kick would allow the Thunder to hold the ball for the final seconds of the game. Matt Bassuener finished 36 of 24 throwing one interception for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Ricardo Lenhart completed 11 receptions for 86 yards and a score, while Aaron Marshall added a 22-yard rushing touchdown with nine seconds on the clock setting up the potential tie.
On the defensive end of the ball Dominic Ross broke up two passes, forced a fumble and completed 2.5 tackles. Tymere Zimmerman added three breaks up, two total tackles while pulling down 10 receptions for 94 yards. Both Matt Forbes and Jerome Jones recorded an interception against the Thunder.
Albany also enters this week's contest coming off a loss. The Conquest fell to the Manchester Wolverines in a 33-50 point defeat in New Hampshire. Albany QB Dan Cole went 21 of 41 for 222 yards and four touchdowns. Wide out Jared Jones led all receivers with seven catches for 58 yards, while Vernard Abrams had a game high of three touchdowns.
The Fire defense will look to step up and shut down a struggling Conquest offense. The defense is third in arenafootball2 in scoring defense allowing 39.6 points a game. They also rank fourth in total defense allowing 237.5 yards per game and the third best pass defense giving up 209.6 yards per game through the air. The defense has also been able to force the opponents into making mistakes. The Fire have forced the most interceptions in the league with 28 and fourth in turnover margin with a positive 18.
"We have to put pressure on their [Albany] quarterback," remarked Fire Head Coach Tommy Johnson. If we can do that we have a good chance to win."
Albany has struggled in recent weeks losing eight of their last nine games. The Conquest rank 20th in scoring offense (45.0 points per game) and total offense (245.2 yards per game).
"It's completely frustrating and I think it's snowballed to the point where it's not just one aspect anymore," stated Albany Head Coach Jeff Hoffman when asked about the inconsistencies of the offense and the defense this year. "All of a sudden Dan starts adjusting to throw the ball a little quicker, the receivers are shortening their routes and everything is out of synch. We'll show some flashes, however we can't have one good series and one bad series and that's how we've been. We need to straighten that out and I think we'll be able to get back on track this week."
Albany has a few players to keep an eye on during the game. Chirs Bocage is a wide receiver that is suppose to return from an injury this week. He leads the team in kick returns and had a team high 13.8 yards per catch. He ranks second in the af2 with 211.0 all-purpose yards per game. Conquest quarterback Dan Cole has struggled since the beginning fo the season, but he is the fouth quarterback in Albany history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season. Currently he ranks fifth on the Albany all-time list with 3,064 yards. The Conquest will also be glad to welcome back tight end Jacob Hobbs. Hobbs has been out since week 6 because he was attending the NFL's New York Giants Rookie/Free Agents Mini Camp.
Matt Forbes looks to increase his interception total for the season. Forbes currently has the most interceptions in the af2 history and is currently working on the Fire single season interception record-currently has 13 interceptions for the season. The Fire will also welcome back University of Louisville product Jerry Spencer to the line-up. Spencer has been out since week 2 when he injured his knee against the Wildcats of South Georgia. Danny Southwick will return to quarterback this week. In two games with the Fire he has completed over 60% of his passes and not thrown an interception. In the Fire's eight seasons there have only been seven receivers that had more than a 1,000 yard receiving seasons. Saturday two current players, Ricardo Lenhart and Lonnell Dewalt will be looking to break the mark, Lenhart has 986 and Dewalt has 948 yards.
This week the Fire are going to go green for the city of Louisville. Green jerseys will be worn by the Fire in honor of Brightside, a non-profit organization that helps clean and maintain the look of Louisville. Following the game the jerseys will be taken off of the players and auctioned to the highest bidders. In addition to the proceeds from the jerseys, the Fire will donate a dollar from every ticket bought by city of Louisville employees.
The Fire is currently in third place in the Midwest division with a 7-6 overall record and a 5-4 conference record. The Conquest maintain a 4-9 overall record and hold the third place position in the American conference, East division. Visit www.louisvillefirefootball.com and click on the Nifty TV link, to view this week's game.
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