Manchester Wolves Silence Mahoning Valley Thunder 56-42 in arenafootball2 league action
MANCHESTER, NH-The Manchester Wolves silenced the Mahoning Valley Thunder 56-42 in arenafootball2 league action at the Verizon Wireless Arena in front of 3,868 enthusiastic fans as the Wolves improved to 4-4 and notched an important American Conference East Division victory.
This time, the Wolves would not squander a big halftime lead as they had in back-to back losses and instead built upon their 35-21 advantage in the final two quarters as they dominated the Thunder, who fell to 1-6 and have not wo n since the first game of the season. Moreover, the Wolves now have a 6-0 advantage in all six meetings with the Thunder, who lost their 16th consecutive road game.
Manchester quarterback James Pinkney got excellent protection from his offensive line, which was aided by the return and amazing play of starting center Darnerius Watson, and he had a spectacular night, completing 21 of 30 for 282 yards and seven touchdowns and no interceptions on the way to earning Russell Offensive Player of the Game honors. Pinkney spread the ball around to all three of his receivers, including Patrick Rouzard, who returned to the Wolves this week after playing the entire 2007 season for Manchester and turned in a solid effort with six catches for 97 yards. But it was leading receiver Deyon Williams who sparked the offense with eight catches for 86 yards and three touchdowns.
Wolves jack linebacker Martel Vanzant, who is the only deaf player in any professional football league, had his best game of the year and was a force on defense and special teams. The rookie recorded seven solo tackles, recovered a fumble in the end zone to prevent the Thunder from scoring, and broke up one pass. Vanzant's heroics were recognized with the JLS Ironman of the Game as well as the NIFTYtv Hit of the Game.
Manchester defensive back Al Phillips had another great game and led all defenders with=2 011 tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an interception that he returned 48 yards. Phillips' extraordinary effort for four quarters made him the unanimous choice for the Aaron's Defensive Player of the Game.
The Thunder tried to hang with the Wolves and even used two quarterbacks in the process but Blake Powers, who threw two touchdown passes, was replaced by Davon Vinson in the first half. Vinson, who was also Mahoning Valley's leading risher, competed 17 of 27 passes for 195 yards with only one touchdown and a fourth quarter interception as he was hurried on every drive. Quorey Payne was Mahoning Valley's leading receiver with eight catches for 115 yards and one touchdown but that wouldn't be enough to keep pace with the Wolves.
The first half was marked by sloppy special teams play by both the Wolves and Thunder. After TJ Williams, who was making his first start for the Wolves, fumbled the return of a missed 47 yard field goal and Mahoning Valley retained possession on its drive, the Thunder got on the scoreboard first when Powers found Payne in the end zone for the 4-yard scoring play. The Wolves tied it next on a 2-yard drive and then back-to-back special -team s mistakes added another score for each team.
On the Wolves kickoff, Payne muffed the ball off the net and Clarence Curry tried to grab it, but Antwan Stewart tipped the ball and Phillips picked it out of the air and ran into the end zone for the Wolves 14-7 advantage. On the next kickoff, Curry took the return all the way downfield for the score and the game was tied again at 14-14. After the Wolves scored on their next drive when Pinkney hit Williams with an 18-yd. touchdown pass, Vinson replaced Powers at quarterback and drove the Thunder down the field to tie the game once again at 21-21. But the rest of the half belonged to the Wolves as they would tack on 14 unanswered points, aided by a Phill ips interception in the end zone that stopped a Mahoning Valley drive cold, and they went to the locker room with a 35-21 lead.
Manchester got the ball to start the second half and scored again with a 13-yard strike from Pinkney to Williams and with the comfortable 42-21 lead, the Wolves never looked back the rest of the way.
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