Manchester trounces Fever, 69-33
MANCHESTER, NH- The Manchester Wolves trounced the Tri-Cities Fever 69 to 33 on Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in front of 5,125 enthusiastic fans as they improved to 3-1 and kept the Fever winless at 0-5.
The Wolves asserted their dominance in every phase of the game for the entire four quarters and left no doubt they were the better team in this first ever meeting between these two arenafootball2 franchises. Led by quarterback James Pinkney, the Russell Offensive Player of the20Game for the second consecutive week, Manchester's offense was clicking while the defense cooled down the Fever and the special teams contributed to the win as well.
Even though both teams would score 27 points apiece in the second half, the game was never in doubt as Manchester took a comfortable 42-6 advantage in the first half. Pinkney (20-27-1, 265 yards, eight TDs) again this week spread the ball around among all three of his receivers and rookie Jason Messing, who joined the team only this week, was the leading receiver with seven catches for 97 yards and three touchdowns while veterans Steve Savoy and Emery Sammons tacked on another five touchdowns between them.
Veteran defensive back Rob Green, voted the Aarons Defensive Player of the Game and a former af2 defensive backfield coach, was instrumental in the victory as he introduced Fever rookie quarterback Jimmy Collins (19-36-3 238 yds., two TDs), who was making his first professional start, to the hazards of the game. Green picked off two interceptions to bring his season total to four and ran one back for a touchdown to end the first half.
Fellow defensive back TC Myers also had a big night and was voted the JLS Iro nman of the Game. He led all Wolves defenders with eight tackles and recovered a Collins fumble near the goal line to score for his first time this season and linebacker Martel Vanzant, back in the starting lineup for the first time since the first game, also picked Collins clean. The Wolves shut out the Fever in the first quarter, jumping out to an early 21-0 lead on three Pinkney scoring to strikes to Savoy, Sammons, and Messing while the defense kept Tri-Cities from converting a single first down or moving the ball into Manchester territory.
The Fever were able to get on the scoreboard at the top of the second stanza when Collins, who had connected on only two of eight passes in the first quarter, finally moved his team into position and fullback Baron Harrel took the handoff and barreled across the goal line from the 1-yard line. But Michael Braunstein, the top rated kicker in the af2, missed the PAT and the Fever trailed 21-6. Braunstein's miss proved to be a bad omen for the Fever as Pinkney came right back to Sammons on the next series with a 20-yard touchdown pass, then Green picked off Collins to give the Wolves a=2 0first down at the Fever 6-yard line, and Messing caught his second touchdown pass in his first start for Manchester. With the Wolves leading 34-6, Green and Myers chased Fever wide receiver Chase Reed back into the end zone and Ramel Meekins swarmed in to record Manchester's first safety of the season and the Wolves stretched their advantage to 36-6 with 4:09 left in the half.
The Fever looked as though they might be able to keep Manchester from adding even more points in the half when Phil Goodman picked off Pinkney at the Tri-Cities 9-yard line, but when Collins got the ball back in his hands he turned it right back over. Green grabbed his second interception of the night and his third of the season and ran it in for the 8-yard score. After kicker Chris Koepplin missed his second PAT in the quarter, the Wolves took a 42-6 lead into the locker room.
While the Fever came out in the second half playing better and closed the gap to 42-19 with two successive scoring drives, the Wolves also added two scores in that quarter with another Pinkney to Sammons connection and a fumble recovered for a touchdown by Myers. The fourth quarter went all the way of the Wolves as they asserted their dominance until the final gun.
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