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KC Defeats Spokane 45-42 in Final Seconds

May 28, 2011 - Arena Football League (AFL) - Kansas City Command News Release

When the COMMAND faced the Spokane Shock for the first time this season in Week 4, broadcaster Nick McCabe remarked that "KC ran into a buzzsaw". Indeed with a 61-34 loss to last season's Arena Bowl champions many were predicting a similar fate, even with the loss of Spokane's starting quarterback Kyle Rowley to injury. But the COMMAND was coming off a last-second win over Tulsa and that momentum, along with spectacular plays by the team's defense, propelled them to a 45-42 win over the Shock off a field goal by Brian Umstead.

It looked like it was going to be another rough start for a Kansas City team known for taking a few minutes to get going. On the second play of the game, Spokane's Alex Teems recovered a KC fumble and scored the game's first touchdown. But the COMMAND shrugged it off; on the kickoff, Carlton Brown fought through six Shock defenders to return the ball the entire length of the field. Bryan Robinson sacked Shock quarterback Casey Hasen on their next possession, causing a turnover on downs which KC capitalized on with a touchdown run by Ironman receiver/linebacker Bradly Chavez.

The second quarter began with Spokane attempting to drive down the field, only to have their passing game shut down by COMMAND defensive backs Ken Fontenette and Sergio Gilliam. Kansas City took over possession of the ball and made it to within field goal range after a few failed rushing attempts but picked up the three points. The COMMAND was up 16-7, and would trade touchdowns with the Shock. Kansas City's newest wide receiver, Central Missouri's Tod Devoe, made a physics-defying, one-handed catch that would earn him the Cutter's Catch of the Game award and 24 yards, leading to a touchdown reception by Robert "Bubby" Gill.

The defensive line again held Spokane out of the end zone, assisted by former MU Tiger Jaron Baston's sack of Casey Hansen. On the Shock's field goal attempt, Bryan Robinson got a hand on the ball, deflecting it, while Bradly Chavez picked it up in the end zone, putting KC up 29-14 going into the second half.

The third quarter started with the Shock on their 20 after the kickoff, and it would take only two plays for the Shock to score, off a 24 yard pass to Raul Vijil. But the Shock wouldn't get the full 7 points; COMMAND defensive lineman Brandon Jenkins got a hand on the ball and deflected the attempt. Again, the COMMAND would trade touchdowns with the Shock, but ended the third quarter up 42-27 off touchdown receptions by Bret Smith and Bubby Gill.

In the last fifteen minutes of the game, Spokane's defense came alive, holding the COMMAND to only three points while the Shock scored 15. An onside kick attempt by the Shock was recovered by KC, but the team couldn't capitalize on it. The COMMAND's defense did what it could to stifle the Shock, who now seemed driven by a furious desperation. Defensive backs Rashad Barksdale and Ken Fontenette both broke up "Hail Mary" touchdown passes, and linebacker Bradly Chavez swatted down another. But the former Arena Bowl champions would still score twice, including a two point conversion that tied the game at 42-42, with 4:02 left.

Playing chicken with the clock, COMMAND quarterback JJ Raterink mixed several rushing attempts in with the team's final drive, including two keepers forced by the Shock defense's pass coverage. Kansas City was within a comfortable field goal range, but kicker Brian Umstead had already missed one attempt. Three seconds were left on the clock, and just like last week in Tulsa, it was all down to a single play. The thousands in attendance at Sprint Center clutched the edges of their seats nervously as the snap came, followed by the thump of a foot on the ball, followed by an eruption of noise as the ball sailed perfectly into the net between the crossbars. With a frenzied effort, the Shock had saved themselves from a blowout, but they couldn't save themselves from a loss. For the COMMAND, payback was sweet indeed.

Brian Umstead was the hero of the day with his game-winning field goal. But he'd struggled a bit before coming through with the win. "You have to have a short memory for that kind of thing" said Umstead, "you put it out of your head and keep focused on the next attempt". On the defensive line, Bryan Robinson picked up 3.5 sacks and another 3.5 tackles for a loss of 20 yards total. "It's been great to finally get our pass rush going" he said, "two wins in a row makes everyone in the locker room motivated to keep it up".

Head Coach Danton Barto had a sly grin on his face as he hung out and met fans in the post-game autograph session. "It was a great win for us tonight", he said, "a total team victory. The biggest thing was to get revenge for a 30 point blowout to Spokane, and there's nobody better to beat than Spokane". Coach Barto also commented on game MVP Bradly Chavez, saying "he's part of a dying breed, a true Ironman. He's a gritty player who helps us get wins". Barto also wanted to specifically recognize defensive line coach Robert Tomas, saying "our d-line has really come alive; they just kept working hard all night".

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