Manchester Wolves bite Corpus Christi Sharks, 46-45
Manchester, NH- The Wolves defense dug down in deep stretch to contribute two huge turnovers with under one minute left on the clock and preserved a slim 46-45 victory over the visiting Corpus Christi Sharks as Manchester finished the regular arenafootball2 league season at 9-7 and headed into the playoffs.
The Wolves will play their first round American Conference post season game next weekend on the road, either at the South Georgia Wildcats or the Green Bay Blizzard depending upon the outcome of other league final season games which were not in the books by press time. No matter where they go, the Wolves are riding a high on the basis of a four-game winning streak and victories in eight of their last nine games.
Playing in front of 6,965 faithful at the Verizon Wireless Arena, the Wolves came up with the big defensive stops when needed most. With just a minute left in the game, Corpus Christi drove up the field and faced a third-and-eight from the Manchester 9-yd. line. Sharks quarterback Fran Johnson pitched the ball to fullback Booker Jenkins who barreled to the 1 and was headed across the goal line, but linebacker Bradly Chavez forced the fumble, which was recovered by fellow linebacker Dwan Wilson at the 4-yd. line.
On the ensuing series , the Wolves made it to the Corpus Christi 16-yd. line and were staring at a fourth-and-goal. Wolves quarterback James Pinkney was going for the end zone but was picked off by Ivory McCann, voted the JLS Ironman of the Game. Chavez came up big again on the return with a hard hit on McCann from behind, dictating another fumble in a critical situation. Defensive lineman Jimmy Williams recovered the ball for the Wolves with 12 seconds remaining and all Manchester had to do was run out the clock with Ben King in relief of Pinkney.
Defensive linemen Larry McSwain, the ADT Defensive Player of the Game, and Joe Crear also were a huge factor in the win. At the top of the third quarter Johnson was sacked by Crear as the Sharks had a third-and-goal from the Wolves 3-yd. line and McSwain scooped up the ball and ran the opposite way to score and put the Wolves up 39-24.
Pinkney, named the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game, finished his night with 17 of 28 throws for 204 yards and one interception with three passing scores and one rushing touchdown.
The first half, played without any turnovers and very few penalties, was a tightly knit affair as the Wolves took a 26-24 lead into the locker room. Pinkney, who was sacked twice, connected on touchdown passes to Chavez and Keith Stokes but the Sharks kept the game close when McCann returned Connor McCormick's missed field goal attempt for a score near the end of the first quarter .
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