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Memphis defeats Manchester

May 6, 2006 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

SOUTHAVEN --- The Memphis Xplorers overcame a record performance by Manchester QB D. Bryant and improved to 5-1 with an exciting 58-52 overtime win over the Wolves at the DeSoto Civic Center Saturday night.

Memphis QB Brian Jones connected with Kenny Higgins on a 13 yard touchdown for the game winner 6 minutes into the overtime session. Jones finished 22 of 40 for 331 yards, 7 TD and 1 INT.

"This was a very good test for us," Jones said. "It was barnburner to start and we knew that we would take care of business in the overtime."

Jones' 331 yards was a career high. Bryant set an af2 record with 42 completions as he went 42 of 57 for 389 yards, 8 TD and 0 INT. The old record was 38 by Tennessee Valley's Matt Sauk in 2000.

Higgins led the Xplorers receivers with a season-high matching 10 catches for 135 yards and 3 scores. The Wolves had two receiving in double digits. Steve Gonzalez had 15 for 134 yards and 3 TD while Marc Bacote took in 11 passes for 90 yards and 4 TD.

"It was a very hard fought game," Xplorers Head Coach Danton Barto said. "Manchester played a great game. It was one we needed to win."

Defensively, Scott Cunningham returned to the Xplorers' lineup and finished with 13 total tackles, tying the franchise single game record set by Deon Giddens in the Week 1 win at Tennessee Valley.

Both teams came out of the gate running; scoring 20 points each in a frantic first quarter. At one point in the first half, the Xplorers had 27 points on board, but had run just 7 offensive plays and had three first half scoring drives that consisted of one play.

Memphis led 34-27 at half and 44-34 after three quarters, but Manchester would take the lead twice in the fourth and had a chance to take a third lead with :47 left, but missed a PAT that kept the scored tied at 52; setting up the overtime.

The Xplorers' defense held the Wolves scoreless on the first overtime possession, got the ball at midfield and would score on the Jones pass to Higgins 3 plays later.

The Xplorers hit the road for a divisional game at South Georgia next Saturday at 6:30 CDT. The Wolves, who fell to 2-3 with the loss, play at division rival Albany on Saturday.

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