Los Angeles Avengers game notes
Game: Los Angeles Avengers at New Orleans VooDoo
Date: Saturday, March 24, 2007
Kickoff: 5 p.m. (Pacific)
Site: New Orleans Arena (16,021)
Radio: AM 570 KLAC (Andrew Siciliano, Troy West)
Internet Radio: www.xtrasportsradio.com
Line: New Orleans by 6 (over/under 107)
Series Record: First meeting
Last Meeting: n/a
Officials: Perry Havener (R), Tom Laverty (U), Bill Ward (HL), David Meslow (LJ), Keith Washington (BJ)
Los Angeles -- Ed Hodgkiss (sixth season, 44-36)
New Orleans - Mike Neu (third season, 22-13)
Los Angeles: Vince Trotter (310) 407-0238, cell (562) 367-5266, firstname.lastname@example.org; John Tamanaha (310) 407-0208, cell (310) 463-5262, email@example.com;
New Orleans: Justin Macione (504) 731-1848, cell (504) 508-1794, firstname.lastname@example.org
Prior to enjoying their bye week, the Avengers evened their 2007 record at 1-1 with an impressive 44-37 overtime victory at Orlando on March 12, in the inaugural ESPN2 telecast of "Russell Athletic ESPN Arena Football Monday." The Avengers will remain on the road this week and next, taking on the 2-1 New Orleans VooDoo (March 24) and the defending ArenaBowl champion Chicago Rush (April 1). Los Angeles opened the season at home on March 4, absorbing a 66-58 setback at the hands of the San Jose SaberCats, and will not return to STAPLES Center until April 6. On that night, when the Avengers face the Arizona Rattlers, they will have been away from their home field for 32 days and traveled more than 12,800 miles. After missing the playoffs for the first time in five years, Avenger head coach Ed Hodgkiss is gunning to put last season's 5-11 showing behind him and re-establish the franchise as one of the league's elite. Unlike last season, when the Avengers began the season with some uncertainty at quarterback, Sonny Cumbie has solidified himself as the team's leader on offense. After two games this season, he is 57-of-88 (64.8 percent) for 655 yards and 12 touchdowns. Cumbie is one of only two AFL starters who has yet to throw an interception this season (New Orleans' Andy Kelly is the other one). After entering the 2006 campaign as the third-stringer, Cumbie started the final 12 games of the season and passed for 3,241 yards and 59 touchdowns (with only 10 interceptions), on his way to earning AFL All-Rookie honors. Cumbie's main targets are split end Kevin Ingram, slot receiver Lenzie Jackson and flanker Rob Turner. Last season, that trio combined for 160 receptions for 1,864 yards and 41 touchdowns. Jackson has caught 24 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns this season. Another offensive weapon is veteran fullback Lonnie Ford, who was the AFL's No. 3 rusher last season. He gained 168 yards on the ground in 2006 and his per carry average of 3.8 yards led the league. Defensively, the Avengers added a lot of new faces during the offseason. Half of the eight starters on that side of the football were rookies in the season opener. Defensive end Silas Demary, who set the AFL's all-time single-season sack record (13.5) in 2005, returns to lead a formidable front that includes second-year men Jason Stewart and Reggie Rhodes. In the defensive back field, safety Damen Wheeler is back to provide veteran leadership to a young but talented group. Wheeler has had interceptions in his last three games, dating back to last season. Los Angeles is rock-solid in the kicking department with the return of Remy Hamilton, who has won the past two AFL "Kicker of the Year" awards. Last season, he hit 27 of his 34 field goal attempts (.750) to break the single-season league record for accuracy that he set in 2005.
Youthful L.A. team learning on the job and playing well
... see "Eight are Rookies" note on Page 2
Quarterback Sonny Cumbie off to great start in 2007
... see Cumbie notes on Page 3
Slot receiver Lenzie Jackson putting up big numbers
... see "Action Jackson" note on Page 3
LOS ANGELES AVENGERS
2007 SCHEDULE (1-1)
Date Opponent Result Score
March 4 San Jose Loss 66-58
March 12 @ Orlando Win 44-37 (OT)
Rest of season
March 24 @ New Orleans 5 p.m.
April 1 @ Chicago 10:30 a.m. ESPN2
April 6 Arizona 7:30 p.m.
April 13 @ Utah 6 p.m.
April 21 @ San Jose 7:30 p.m. Prime (d)
April 28 Grand Rapids 7:30 p.m. FSN West
May 6 @ Las Vegas 3 p.m. Prime
May 12 Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m. Prime (d)
May 19 Georgia 7:30 p.m. FSN West
May 26 @ Kansas City 3 p.m.
June 2 Chicago 7:30 p.m.
June 11 @ Arizona 7 p.m. ESPN2
June 17 Las Vegas 3:30 p.m. FSN West
June 23 Utah 7:30 p.m. FSN West
AVENGER HEAD COACH: One of the brightest offensive masterminds in the AFL, Ed Hodgkiss is in his sixth season as the head coach of the Avengers. He has compiled a record of 44-36, advanced to the AFL Playoffs four times and finished as the runner-up in the AFL "Coach of the Year" balloting twice (2003 and 2005). Last season, the Avengers slipped to 5-11, but developed quarterback Sonny Cumbie, who earned AFL All-Rookie honors. Under Hodgkiss' direction, the Avengers captured their first Western Division championship in 2005 and compiled a 10-6 record. In 2004, the Avengers went 9-7 and led the AFL in scoring, averaging 56.5 points per game. In 2003, the Avengers won a franchise-best 11 games and earned a first-round playoff bye. In his first two seasons in Los Angeles, Hodgkiss directed the Avengers to a 19-11 record. He is one of only five head coaches in AFL history who has won 21 or more of his first 32 games (the other four are Darren Arbet, John Gregory, Lary Kuharich and Tim Marcum). Hodgkiss became the head coach of the Avengers on Oct. 5, 2001, and signed a five-year contract extension shortly after a 2002 season that saw him adroitly pilot the team to an 8-6 mark and into the postseason for the first time in franchise history. In his first season as a head coach at any level, he instantly established the Avenger offense as one of the most feared in the AFL, scoring an average of 52.2 points per game. Prior to joining the Avengers, Hodgkiss was the Indiana Firebirds' offensive coordinator for three seasons (1999-2001) and was part of an ArenaBowl championship in 1999.
EIGHT ARE ROOKIES: Eight of the 22 players on L.A.'s active roster are rookies. They are DB James Bethea, LB Michael Craven, OL Branden Hall, QB Tim Hicks, OL Matt McGhghy, DB Arnold Parker, LB Brandon Perkins and WR/DB LaShaun Ward. Seven of those players -- Bethea, Craven, Hall, McGhghy, Parker, Perkins and Ward -- have started in at least one game this season (Hicks did not get into either game). Last season, 11 of the 32 players, who suited up for the Avengers experienced their first taste of AFL action in 2006 (including four players that are still with the club -- QB Sonny Cumbie, WR/LB Robert Quiroga, DL Reggie Rhodes and DL Jason Stewart).
TURNOVER MARGIN: The Avengers have committed only one turnover this season and are currently tied for fourth in the AFL in turnover margin at +3. This season, the Avengers have come up with four takeaways (three interceptions and one fumble recovery). While going 5-11 last season, the Avengers finished the 2006 campaign -1 in turnover margin (tied for 10th in the AFL). That's a far cry from where Los Angeles was in the previous two seasons. The Avengers led the AFL in turnover margin in 2005 with an amazing +17 (two teams finished way back in second at +8). In 2005, Los Angeles had a league-leading 37 takeaways, turned over the football only 20 times (fewest in the AFL), finished 10-6 and won the Western Division title. In 2004, the Avengers turned the ball over just 11 times (fewest in the AFL) and tied the Chicago Rush for an AFL-best turnover margin of +15.
IRONMAN INGRAM: Avenger WR/DB Kevin Ingram, the 2005 AFL "Ironman of the Year" and a two-time First Team All-Arena selection (2004 and 2005), had perhaps the best campaign of his career in 2006, but only garnered Second Team All-Arena honors for his efforts. Last season, he finished with 111 catches, 1,354 receiving yards, 34 total touchdowns, five interceptions and averaged 111.7 all-purpose yards per game. During his "Ironman of the Year" season in 2005, Ingram led Los Angeles with 88 receptions, accounted for 1,052 receiving yards and scored 24 touchdowns. Defensively, he had a team-high six interceptions (and also made 68 tackles) two seasons ago. In addition, he led the team in kickoff returns and averaged 104.1 all-purpose yards per game in 2005.
Kevin Ingram -
Year-by-Year Ironman Comparison
2007 17 catches, 180 yards, four touchdowns
Two kickoff returns for 55 yards, two tackles
Averaging 117.0 all-purpose yards per game
2006 111 catches, 1,354 receiving yards, 34 TDs
Five INTs, averaging 111.7 all-purpose yards
- Second Team All-Arena selection
2005 88 catches, 1,052 receiving yards, 24 TDs
Six INTs, averaged 104.1 all-purpose yards
- AFL "Ironman of the Year"
- First Team All-Arena selection
2004 67 catches, 848 receiving yards, 23 TDs
Four INTs, averaged 116.9 all-purpose yards
- First Team All-Arena selection
ALL-TIME LEADING RUSHER: Avenger FB/LB Lonnie Ford finished the 2006 season ranked at No. 3 in the AFL in rushing. He gained 168 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on only 44 carries last season. His per carry average of 3.8 yards was also the best in the league among players with more than 27 carries. Ford, L.A.'s all-time leading rusher with 515 yards in his five seasons, is also the only Avenger to ever record two 100-yard seasons.
Avenger Record Book -
Rushing Yards in a Season
1. Chad Dukes (2002) 223
2. Lonnie Ford (2005) 193
3. Lonnie Ford (2006) 168
4. Mathias Vavao (2003) 126
5. Ed Smith (2001) 113
WHEELER IS ON A ROLL: Avenger safety Damen Wheeler has had interceptions in both games this season and has picked off a pass in his last three games, dating back to last season. In addition to his two INTs, he also has 9.5 tackles, three pass deflections and one forced fumble in 2007. In recognition of his outstanding performance in the overtime victory at Orlando, he was selected as the "ADT Defensive Player of the Game."
LOOKING AHEAD: Following Saturday's game in New Orleans, the Avengers will remain on the road to face the defending ArenaBowl champion Chicago Rush on April 1. The Avengers will not return home to STAPLES Center until they host the Arizona Rattlers on Friday, April 6.
THE TEXAS GUNSLINGER: Avenger quarterback Sonny Cumbie has opened the 2007 season in impressive fashion, completing 55-of-88 for 655 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is one of only two starting quarterbacks in the AFL who has yet to throw an interception (New Orleans' Andy Kelly is the other one). At Orlando on March 12, 2007, Cumbie set a team record with 32 completions, breaking the old mark of 31 established by John Kaleo in 2005. Cumbie, who was a finalist for the AFL's 2006 "Rookie of the Year" award, started the last 12 games of the 2006 season and was 268-of-450 (59.6 percent) for 3,241 yards and 59 touchdowns, with only 10 INTs. His passer rating of 105.2 ranked him at No. 9 in the AFL (minimum 400 attempts), putting him ahead of veterans such as Tony Graziani (98.4), Andy Kelly (97.6) and John Kaleo (96.6), and all rookies. Furthermore, Cumbie's interception percentage of 2.2 was fifth best among the league's starters. On March 12, 2006, he was 23-of-34 for 348 yards and six TDs in L.A.'s 75-61 victory at San Jose. Those 348 passing yards rank fifth on the all-time Avenger chart. Cumbie threw 17 TD passes in his first three starts, the most by any QB in Avenger history, beating the previous mark set by Graziani, who was in his second AFL season when he tossed 16 in his first three starts for Los Angeles. In his AFL starting debut on Feb. 25, 2006, Cumbie threw seven touchdown passes (first among all QBs making their first Avenger start).
Avenger Record Book -
Completions in a Single Game
1. Sonny Cumbie (at Orlando, 2007) 32
2. John Kaleo (at Colorado, 2005) 31
3. Sonny Cumbie (vs. Utah, 2006) * 29
4t. Tony Graziani (vs. Arizona, 2004) 28
4t. Tony Graziani (at Dallas, 2003) 28
* AFL rookie season
Avenger Record Book -
Passing Yards in a Single Game
1. Todd Marinovich (at Houston, 2000) * 469
2. Tony Graziani (vs. Detroit, 2004) 359
3. Tony Graziani (at New York, 2003) 355
4. Tony Graziani (at Georgia, 2002) 352
5. Sonny Cumbie (at San Jose, 2006) * 348
6. Tony Graziani (vs. San Jose, 2003) 345
7. Sonny Cumbie (at Orlando, 2007) 340
8. Sonny Cumbie (at Utah, 2006) * 337
9. Tony Graziani (vs. Austin, 2004) 332
10. S. Semptimphelter (vs. Carolina, 2000) 331
* AFL rookie season
NOT YOUR AVERAGE QB: Although just a rookie at the time, Avenger QB Sonny Cumbie finished the 2006 season with numbers very similar to those posted by former Avenger QB Tony Graziani in terms of average passing yards per game as a starter.
Avenger Record Book -
Average Passing Yards as a Starter
1. Sonny Cumbie, 2007 (2 starts, 655 yds.) 327.5
2. Tony Graziani, 2003 (16 starts, 4,290 yds.) 268.1
3. Sonny Cumbie, 2006 (12 starts, 3,206 yds.) 267.2
4. Tony Graziani, 2004 (16 starts, 4,254 yds.) 265.9
INTERCEPTION-FREE STREAK: Avenger QB Sonny Cumbie broke Tony Graziani's team record for attempts without an interception last season, passing 212 times between picks. During that hot streak, Cumbie tossed 28 TD passes. He was not intercepted in six of the 12 games he started in 2006. Graziani set the previous Avenger record at 210 in 2004. Cumbie is currently working on another streak, which now stands at 89 attempts (dating back to the end of last season).
Avenger Record Book -
Pass Attempts without an Interception
1. Sonny Cumbie, 2006 (span of 6 games) 212
2. Tony Graziani, 2004 (span of 7 games) 210
3. Tony Graziani, 2003 (span of 7 games) 185
SECOND ON THIRD: Avenger quarterback Sonny Cumbie is currently ranked second in the AFL in third-down passing, having completed 9-of-14 for 113 yards and four touchdowns in those key situations so far this season.
ACTION JACKSON: Avenger slot receiver Lenzie Jackson opened the 2007 season in impressive fashion, catching 24 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games of the season. Those 24 receptions over two consecutive games ties an Avenger record set by Chris Jackson in 2004 (April 3 and 10). In addition, Lenzie and Chris Jackson are the only two players in Avenger history to catch 11 or more passes in two consecutive games (Chris Jackson did it twice [once in 2002 and once in 2004]). Lenzie Jackson's 13 catches versus San Jose in the season opener on March 4, was one shy of the team record of 14 receptions set by Chris Jackson in 2004. And Lenzie Jackson's 196 receiving yards against the SaberCats ranks him at No. 4 on the Avengers' all-time chart.
Avenger Record Book -
Receptions in a Single Game
1. Chris Jackson (vs. Orlando, 2004) 14
2. Lenzie Jackson (vs. San Jose, 2007) 13
2. Chris Jackson (vs. Colorado, 2004) 13
2. Greg Hopkins (at Grand Rapids, 2002) 13
2. Chris Jackson (at Georgia, 2002) 13
6. Chris Jackson (vs. New York, 2002) 12
6. Chris Jackson (at Arizona, 2001) 12
Avenger Record Book -
Receiving Yards in a Single Game
1. Chris Jackson (at Arizona, 2002) 242
2. Chris Jackson (vs. Austin, 2004) 210
3. Shannon Culver (at Houston, 2000) 209
4. Lenzie Jackson (vs. San Jose, 2007) 196
5. Chris Jackson (at Georgia, 2002) 194
6. Chris Jackson (vs. Detroit, 2004) 192
7. Tony Locke (at San Jose, 2005) 174
MOVING UP THE CHARTS: Avenger kicker Remy Hamilton is now in sole possession of second-place on the AFL's all-time kicking points chart. With eight points (five extra points and one field goal) in the overtime victory at Orlando, he broke what was a tie with Mike Black at 1,246 points. Hamilton already owns the AFL's single-season record for kicking points with 185 in 2005 (he also posted the second-best mark with 173 kicking points in 2006).
All-Time AFL Leaders -
1. Steve Videtich (Utah) 1,408
2. Remy Hamilton (Los Angeles) 1,254
3. Mike Black (1993-2004) 1,246
KICKING UP A STORM: Avenger kicker Remy Hamilton had yet another standout season in 2006. Displaying stunning accuracy and consistency, he was 27-of-36 (.750) on his field goal attempts last year. Hamilton was a near-perfect 25-of-26 on three-pointers inside of 38 yards. He was a perfect 4-for-4 in the 2006 season opening victory over Arizona and duplicated the feat in the 60-57 win over Colorado. Hamilton also connected on 92 of his 98 extra point attempts this season (.939). He led all AFL kickers in scoring with 173 points. In 2005, Hamilton led the AFL in field goals (29), field-goal percentage (.744) and kicking points (185). He opened the 2005 campaign by hitting his first 11 three-pointers and dating back to the end of the 2004 season, he converted on 12 consecutive field goal attempts, which is an all-time AFL record. Hamilton kicked a career-high five field goals to help the Avengers beat Austin, 64-51, on Feb. 11, 2005. He scored a total of 22 points versus the Wranglers, came up with a key fumble recovery and was selected as the "Ironman of the Game," becoming the first kicker in AFL history to earn that honor.
ANOTHER RECORD SETTING SEASON?: Last season, Remy Hamilton broke his own AFL record for field goal percentage and was selected as the AFL's "Kicker of the Year" for the second consecutive year. Hamilton, who is the first kicker in league history to win the award in back-to-back seasons, also has been honored as an All-Arena First Team selection in both 2005 and 2006. He was 27-of-36 on field goals in 2006, which translates to a record-breaking 75 percent success rate. In 2005, Hamilton cashed in on 74.4 percent (29-of-39) of his field goal attempts, breaking the previous record of 72 percent (18-of-25) set by Jay Taylor of the Orlando Predators in 2004. He is one of only three players in league history to boot over 125 field goals.
All-Time AFL Leaders -
Field Goals Made in a Career
1. Mike Black (1993-2004) 177
2. Steve Videtich (Utah) 168
3. Remy Hamilton (Los Angeles) 162
All-Time AFL Leaders -
Field Goals Percentage in a Single Season
1. Remy Hamilton (Los Angeles, 2006) .750
2. Remy Hamilton (Los Angeles, 2005) .744
3. Jay Taylor (Orlando, 2004) .720
4. Steve McLaughlin (Nashville, 2001) .639
HOW MUCH STATS ARE BACK: Thirteen of the 28 players currently with the Avengers (22 on the active roster and six on injured reserve) were with the team last season. The table below illustrates to what level those returning players contributed to last season's statistics.
How Much is Coming Back?
Stat Category 2006 Total 2007 Players %
Passing yards 4,191 3,241 77.3%
Passing TDs 75 59 78.7%
Interceptions thrown 16 10 62.5%
Receptions 358 169 47.2%
Receiving yards 4,337 1,950 45.0%
Receiving TDs 75 41 54.7%
Rushes 101 72 71.3%
Rushing yards 321 240 74.8%
Rushing TDs 18 15 83.3%
Kickoff returns 94 27 28.7%
Kickoff return yards 1,540 352 22.9%
Missed FG returns 8 3 37.5%
Missed FG ret. yards 134 33 24.6%
Touchdowns scored 104 61 58.7%
Field goals 27 27 100%
Extra point kicks 92 92 100%
Points scored 809 543 67.1%
All-purpose yards 6,539 2,623 40.1%
Total-offense yards 4,512 3,481 77.1%
Total tackles 462 224 48.5%
Tackles for losses 29 20.5 70.7%
Quarterback sacks 11 8 72.8%
Interceptions 14 9 64.3%
Pass breakups 58 34 58.6%
Fumbles forced 15 12 80.0%
Fumbles recovered 12 6 50.0%
Kicks blocked 3 3 100%
BACK IN THE DAY: With the AFL's move to "free substitution" this past offseason, the days of stunning two-way "Ironman" performances could become quite rare. A good example of that kind of impact occurred last season. In the final six seconds of the first half of game at Utah on April 15, 2006, Avenger WR/DB Kevin Ingram displayed what it really means to be an "Ironman." With the Blaze already leading, 35-27, and driving deep into Avenger territory once again, Ingram intercepted an Andy Kelly pass with six seconds remaining until halftime. On L.A.'s ensuing possession, Ingram caught a seven-yard pass from Sonny Cumbie and quickly got out of bounds, giving the Avengers a second-and-three play from their own 11-yard line with 1.7 seconds left. Then, Cumbie threw a "Hail Mary" pass off the rebound net system and into Ingram's arms for a touchdown as time expired in the first half. His work not yet done, Ingram then successfully fielded a bad snap and expertly got the football set for Remy Hamilton's extra point kick, which brought the Avengers to within a point at the break ... when just moments before, it seemed as if they were about to go down by two touchdowns.
AFL WEEK 4 SCHEDULE (all times Pacific):
Thursday, March 22
Colorado at Philadelphia, 4 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN 360, SIRIUS Satellite Radio)
Friday, March 23
New York at Tampa Bay, 4:30 p.m. (AFL Net, SIRIUS Satellite Radio)
Las Vegas at Arizona, 6 p.m. (AFL Net)
Grand Rapids at Utah, 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 24
San Jose at Georgia, 4 p.m.
Los Angeles at New Orleans, 5 p.m.
Nashville at Austin, 5:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest)
Chicago at Columbus, 6 p.m. (AFL Net)
Monday, March 26
Dallas at Orlando, 4 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN 360)
L.A. IN O.T.: The Avengers have an all-time record of 4-5 in overtime games. Los Angeles is 4-1 when playing the extra period on the road and a winless 0-4 within the usually friendly confines of STAPLES Center. In three of the nine OT games, the Avenger opponent has been Arizona (L.A. is 1-2 in those contests). In all four overtime victories, L.A. won by scoring a touchdown and holding the opponent scoreless (three times on downs and once benefiting from a missed field goal).
Avengers in Overtime
At home 0-4
On the road 4-1
When getting the ball first 2-3
When getting the ball second 2-2
When scoring a touchdown 4-3
When scoring first 4-2
When scoring second 0-1
When a field goal is attempted 0-2
When missing a PAT kick 1-2
When getting a two-point conversion 0-0
When allowing a two-point conversion 0-1
ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE 2007 STANDINGS:
W L T Pct. Pts. OP
Utah 2 1 0 .667 193 201
Los Angeles 1 1 0 .500 102 103
San Jose 1 1 0 .500 111 106
Las Vegas 1 2 0 .333 146 185
Arizona 0 3 0 .000 190 200
W L T Pct. Pts. OP
Chicago 2 1 0 .667 150 139
Colorado 2 1 0 .667 142 138
Grand Rapids 1 2 0 .333 153 190
Kansas City 1 2 0 .333 148 151
Nashville 1 2 0 .333 155 176
W L T Pct. Pts. OP
Dallas 3 0 0 1.000 185 101
Philadelphia 2 0 0 1.000 132 70
Columbus 1 1 0 .500 103 108
New York 0 2 0 .000 47 121
W L T Pct. Pts. OP
Georgia 3 0 0 1.000 190 163
New Orleans 2 1 0 .667 172 139
Orlando 2 1 0 .667 134 101
Austin 1 2 0 .333 138 141
Tampa Bay 0 3 0 .000 114 172
RECENT AVENGER TRANSACTIONS:
Date Action Player
2/26 Placed on injured reserve LB Jon Apgar
WR/LB Nichiren Flowers
DL Josh Jeffries
DB Rushen Jones
WR/LB Terrence Stubbs
QB Kevin Thompson
2/26 Waived WR/LB Antoine Burns
DL Terrance Carter
WR/LB Ataveus Cash
WR/LB Chris Cole
OL Paul Keizer
OL Matt Magerko
DB Tod McBride
DL Marcus Parker
DB Kevin Stanley
OL Albert Stinson
"IRONMAN OF THE GAME": Voted on by the media, the award goes to the two-way player who best demonstrated the ideals of the AFL's style of ironman football.
Week Opp. Ironman of the Game
1 San Jose WR Ben Nelson (S.J.)
14 catches, 4 TDs, 2 tackles
2 at Orlando WR/DB Lenzie Jackson (L.A.)
11 rec., 124 yards, 1 TD, 1 tackle
3 at New Orleans
"ADT DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME": Voted on by the media, the award goes to the player who was the most valuable to his team's defensive success in the game, win or lose.
Week Opp. Defensive Player of the Game
1 San Jose DB Omarr Smith (S.J.)
Orlando DB Damen Wheeler (L.A.)
3 breakups, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble
3 at New Orleans
"OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME": Voted on by the media, the award goes to the player who was the most valuable to his team's offensive success in the game, win or lose.
Week Opp. Offensive Player of the Game
1 San Jose WR/DB Lenzie Jackson (L.A.)
13 catches, 196 yards, 3 TDs
2 at Orlando QB Sonny Cumbie (L.A.)
32-of-48, 340 yards, 5 TDs
3 at New Orleans
NIFTY NICKNAMES: Several Avengers played college football at schools with interesting nicknames ... Kevin Ingram, West Chester (Pa.) University Golden Rams; Sean McNamara, Pittsburg (Kan.) State University Gorillas and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen and Rob Turner, Central Michigan University Chippewas.
$10,000 raised for PADRES Contra El Cáncer
2ND ANNUAL CHARITY POKER TOURNAMENT
The Los Angeles Avengers held their Second Annual Charity Poker Tournament on Sunday, March 18, at Guy's North in Studio City, Calif. All proceeds benefited PADRES Contra El Cáncer, a non-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life for Latino children with cancer and their families.
A total of 140 people participated in the event, which featured Avenger fans playing no-limit Texas hold'em along side Avenger players and various celebrities, including Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria.
The event also included a star-studded silent auction of sports memorabilia. More than $10,000 was raised for PADRES Contra El Cáncer.
PADRES Contra El Cáncer programs, activities and services, while primarily oriented to the Latino community, serve childhood cancer patients from all races and ethnic origins. No family is turned away.
Celebrating 20 years of service, PADRES Contra El Cáncer brings together children, families, healthcare professionals and community leaders to promote a comprehensive understanding of childhood cancer and other blood disorders as well as effective methods for treatment.
For more information about PADRES Contra El Cáncer please visit their website at www.iamhope.org or call (800) 269-4186.
TWO TEXANS: Avenger QB Sonny Cumbie and PADRES Contra El Cáncer national spokesperson Eva Longoria.
LAST GAME - March 12, 2007:
LOS ANGELES BEATS ORLANDO IN OT, 44-37
By Antoine Ibrahim
The Avengers and Predators added yet another dramatic ending to their epic series, as the game's final play sealed L.A.'s 44-37 overtime victory on Monday, March 12, in front of a raucous crowd at Amway Arena and a national television audience on ESPN2.
Avenger defensive end Reggie Rhodes swatted a fourth-down Predator pass to seal the hard-fought victory for Los Angeles (1-1), which has a week off before continuing its three-game road swing. It was the fourth time in five games that an Avenger-Predator contest was determined on the final play.
"We knew we couldn't go into the bye week 0-2," said Avenger quarterback Sonny Cumbie, who finished 32-of-48 for 340 yards and five touchdowns. "We're tickled to come into such a hostile environment and get this type of win."
It was fitting that the game ended on a defensive knock down, as L.A.'s ball-hawking secondary and relentless pressure up front made it a tough night for Orlando quarterback Shane Stafford, who completed only 22 of his 46 pass attempts.
Although they never led in regulation, the Predators forced the overtime after Avenger kicker Remy Hamilton missed a 47-yarder, as time expired. He also missed a 29-yard attempt with under a minute left that could have closed the door on Orlando (1-1), which trailed by seven at the time.
The Predators tied the contest at 37-37 with six seconds left on a Stafford touchdown pass to Javarus Dudley.
Los Angeles opened the extra period with a scoring drive that was capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass from Cumbie to Rob Turner. Hamilton's extra point gave the Avengers a seven-point lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Avenger head coach Ed Hodgkiss preached all week that Orlando's rounded end zones would pose a challenge for the visiting Avengers. They ended up being a challenge for both teams in a first half that saw only 27 total points.
"The pressure was the difference," said Avenger rookie cornerback James Bethea, who had a key pass deflection on Orlando's final possession. "Our confidence kept getting better through the game. It was a huge effort up front and in the backfield."
A key fourth-down conversion from Cumbie to receiver Lenzie Jackson deep in their territory with just over two minutes remaining seemed to preserve L.A.'s first victory of the year, but that wasn't the case, as Orlando got the ball back trailing by seven with 37 seconds left.
Taking a 17-10 lead into halftime, momentum seemed to swing against the Avengers on their first drive of the second half when Orlando recorded a red-zone stop after a misdirected pitch from Cumbie to Kevin Ingram was recovered by Predator linebacker Marlon Moye-Moore.
Despite the misfortune, the Avenger defense, which was tenacious throughout, responded with a stop of its own, forcing Orlando to give it up on downs inside L.A.'s 10-yard line.
After the consecutive stops, both offenses exploded with three touchdowns apiece.
L.A.'s first came when Kevin Ingram made an acrobatic, one-handed grab in the back of the end zone. The 22-yard strike seemed to be out of reach, but Ingram fully extended his right arm to bring it in. Hamilton's missed extra point kept the Avenger lead at 23-10.
"I did everything I could to get to that ball," said Ingram. "It was a play that all of the guys seemed to feed off of. It really gave our offense some confidence down the stretch."
Orlando returned the favor when Stafford found DeAndrew Rubin in the corner of the end zone on a 32-yard bomb. Rubin, like Ingram, also made a spectacular grab as he crashed against the rounded boards to trim L.A.'s lead to 23-17, with 3:20 to go in the third quarter.
Stafford connected with Rubin again, this time for 19 yards out, following a Cumbie touchdown pass to Turner, to make it 30-24, with 11:25 remaining.
The offensive fireworks continued when Ingram took a screen pass and turned it into a 27-yard touchdown to extend the L.A. lead back to 13 with 9:11 left, but the lead was cut quickly when Predator fullback Kevin Nagle added a rushing touchdown that made it 37-30 after a missed extra point.
The Avenger defense recorded a turnover on the game's opening possession, after forcing two fumbles on the same play.
After Stafford had a ball ripped from him on a rush, Nagle picked it up and tried to advance it, but another strip by Avenger defensive back Damen Wheeler gave teammate Bethea a chance to jump on it after it squirted past several players.
The Avengers jumped out to a 14-point lead, 17-3, after two consecutive touchdowns by Jackson. The first was a 17-yard strike from Cumbie, while the second was a rush from one yard out with just over 12 minutes left in the first half. The second score was set up after Wheeler forced another turnover with an interception.
Jackson led the Avengers with 11 catches for 124 yards.
The first half ended with a block of Hamilton's 25-yard field goal attempt by Predator lineman Charles Hill.
LOS ANGELES (1-1) 10 7 6 14(7)-- 44
ORLANDO (1-1) 3 7 7 20(0)-- 37
AFL PRESS RELEASE:
RULE CHANGE USHERS
IN FREE SUBSTITUTION
NEW YORK (Sept. 13, 2006) -- The Arena Football League's Board of Directors have approved several rule changes to take effect for the 2007 season.
The most significant change is the introduction of free substitution. Previously, AFL coaches were limited to one substitution per position per quarter. Beginning with the 2007 season, coaches will be permitted to substitute players at will.
Free substitution will improve the AFL's overall quality of football. The new rule provides coaches with the freedom to put their best players on the field for every play of the game. Because players will receive more rest than ever before, the new rule is also expected to decrease penalties, particularly late in the game. In addition, teams will be able to select from a wider player talent pool when building their rosters.
The changes were recommended by the Rules and Competition Committee, which is chaired by Colorado Crush Co-Owner and Chief Executive Officer John Elway.
Another noticeable change is the removal of coaches from the field during the game. In past seasons, one coach per team was allowed on the field of play during game action. Last season coaches were not allowed on the field for special teams plays as a pilot program to this year's rule change.
Additional changes approved by the Board of Directors for the 2007 season:
* "Box Rule" Markings: Field markings will be instituted to provide the officials with a point of reference to aid in enforcing the "Box Rule," which restricts the movement of the "Jack" linebacker until the ball is thrown or the quarterback scrambles out of the pocket.
* Tie-breaking system: Teams will not be re-seeded for the Conference Championship Round of the playoffs.
* Injured Reserve: If a team puts a player on Injured Reserve, the player will be out for four weeks instead of two.
AFL PRESS RELEASE:
AFL, ESPN ENTER INTO FIVE-YEAR AGREEMENT
NEW YORK (Dec. 19, 2006) -- ESPN and the Arena Football League have entered into a five-year agreement that includes extensive multimedia rights and a minimum of 26 televised games per season, beginning in 2007. ESPN has also purchased a minority ownership stake in the AFL as part of the agreement that enhances ESPN's football programming lineup, the most comprehensive in sports television, with year-round football on Monday nights.
ESPN will televise a minimum of 17 regular-season games and nine playoff games -- including a minimum of three Wild Card games, three Divisional Playoff games, both Conference Championships and the ArenaBowl -- on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. ESPN will also have an exclusive window for weekly Monday night primetime games on ESPN2 -- continuing to establish Monday night as the "football night" for fans year-round.
"This is the longest and most comprehensive media partnership in AFL history," said Commissioner David Baker. "ESPN's brand is ingrained in sports fans, who watch, read and listen to its multiple media properties. Through its equity purchase, ESPN now owns a piece of the AFL and has the ability to provide exciting football content on Monday nights for fans on a year-round basis. There is no better partner to help continue the AFL's growth as a leading global, multimedia property than ESPN."
Similar to recent major ESPN content acquisitions, the agreement entails a broad range of rights. Fifteen ESPN platforms will benefit from this new agreement, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN on ABC, ESPN Classic, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD; ESPN.com; Spanish-language ESPN Deportes; ESPN360 (the company's growing interactive and customizable broadband service); Mobile ESPN Publishing (the company's wireless content licensing business); ESPN Radio, ESPN The Magazine and other ESPN-branded services (i.e., iPod, video-on-demand). ESPN also gains the right to both air and syndicate Arena Football League games through ESPN International.
"We are committed to the Arena Football League and its exciting brand of football. We will help grow the league across all of our multimedia platforms. As the league grows, so will our business, and we see a bright future for us both," said John Skipper, executive vice president, content, ESPN.
ESPN's 2007 AFL coverage will kick off on ABC with a pair of regional games - defending ArenaBowl champion Chicago Rush at Kansas City Brigade and Dallas Desperados at New York Dragons -- on Sunday, March 4 at 12:30 p.m. ET. ABC will broadcast ArenaBowl XXI live on Saturday, July 29 at 3 p.m. from New Orleans Arena as the city of New Orleans hosts its first team championship since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
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