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April 29, 2002 - arenafootball2 (af2) - New Haven Ninjas News Release

Rochester Brigade (2-2, 2002) vs. New Haven Ninjas (1-3)
Date: Friday, May 3, 2002
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Site: Blue Cross Arena (11,200)
National Anthem: Decymone Elliot
Coin Toss: TBD
Officials: William Gosselin, Referee
John Salmon, Umpire
Karl Swanke, Head Linesman
Stephen Toal, Line Judge
Derwin Williams, Back Judge
Radio: WYSL 1040 AM
JC DeLass, play-by-play commentator
John DiTullio, color commentator
Series Record: Rochester leads 1-0
Last Meeting: New Haven 34 @ Rochester 61 Streaks: Rochester- won one
New Haven- won one
Coaches: Mark Saunders (6-14, 2nd)
Rick Buffington (1-3, 1st)


The Rochester Brigade needs a victory to stay on pace with the Albany Conquest in the Northeast Division, and move ahead of the Mohegan Wolves for second place. The New Haven Ninjas will look for their second win in franchise history in an effort to stay out of the bottom of the Northeast Division.


In just his second season as the Brigade’s Head Coach, Mark Saunders has a 6-14 record, and is coming off of a huge road victory against the Albany Conquest. This season, Saunders looks to improve upon that record and make a mark in the newly formed Northeast Division.

New Haven’s, Rick Buffington begins his first season as head coach for the expansion team. Prior to coming to the New Haven, he served as the Florida Bobcats’ (AFL) General Manager in 2000 and Head Coach in 1998. He currently has a 1-3 record on the season.


If the Brigade defeats the Ninjas, it would …
· Give the Brigade a two game winning streak
· Give the Brigade a 2-0 series lead
· Give Mark Saunders a 7-14 all-time record
· Give the Brigade a 2-2 home record in 2002
· Give the Brigade a 3-2 mark in the Division

THE SERIES: The Brigade holds a 1-0 series lead after a victory on April 6, the first game of the three game home series. Rochester was led on offense by game MVP QB Matt D’Orazio, who went 17 of 24 in passing for 204 yards and four touchdowns. The Brigade scored a franchise record 61 points en route to the 61-34 victory. The two clubs will meet for the final time this season when the Brigade travels to New Haven for their only visit on the season in the final week of July 27.


In the first meeting between these two clubs Brigade QB Matt D’Orazio led the offense completing 17 of 26 passes for 204 yards and four touchdowns to earn game MVP honors. His main target on the night was OS Martino Theus, who caught seven passes for 97 yards including three touchdowns. Game IRONMAN WR/DB Aaron Fix chipped in with two rushing touchdowns on offense and returned three kick-offs for 72 yards.

Defensively the Brigade was led by DS Vonkeith Spencer, who was named the game ADT Defensive Player with three tackles, two passes defended and a key interception.

For the Ninjas QB Phil Stambaugh, who has since joined the New York Giants of the NFL, connected on 13 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns. The go to guy for the Ninjas was OS Cy Butler, who caught five passes for 108 yards and two scores. Butler also returned two kick-offs for 58 yards. Defensively, the Ninjas were led by DS Andre Dixon and his 6.5 tackles (five solo) and forced a fumble on the night.


The Rochester Brigade defeated the Ninjas 61-34 on April 6, at The Blue Cross Arena. Rochester led 19-13 at the end of the first quarter, and scored on five consecutive drives in the first half. Defensively, the Brigade held the Ninjas to 191 yards on offense and intercepted quarterback Phil Stambaugh three times. The game MVP was QB Matt D’Orazio (Rochester), IRONMAN was WR/DB Aaron Fix (Rochester) and the ADT Defensive Player of the Game was WR/DB Vonkieth Spencer (Rochester). The game marked the first time in franchise history the Brigade led an entire game from start to finish.


Head Coach Mark Saunders, Last Week: “It was good to gain a road victory and see the guys fight through adversity to get the job done… it brought the team closer together.”

Head Coach Mark Saunders, This Week: “We have to continue building on things we’ve done well and make sure we don’t take another step back… every game’s a big one for us from here on out.”

Head Coach Mark Saunders, Penalties: “We have work to do as a team… we need to continue playing hard, smart and not let the officiating or lack of unglue our team… we can’t harp on the officiating we just need to play hard and it shouldn’t matter.”

Quarterback Matt D’Orazio, on New Haven: “Last week was a sign of a team with a lot of character… we fought together and won at the end, making everybody believe in each other and bringing us closer together.”

MILESTONES- April 27,2002

· The Rochester Brigade won their first ever “NYS Lottery af2 Cup,” defeating the Albany Conquest on the road 32-24 to give the Conquest their first loss on the season.
· Rochester Brigade Offensive Specialist Martino Theus set a franchise record for most catches in a game with 14 and most yards receiving with 181.
· Rochester Brigade Quarterback Matt D’Orazio threw for the most yards in a single game with 313
· The Brigade team took a franchise high, 17 penalties in a single game and a league record 168 yards penalized.


Last week, the Brigade defeated the Albany Conquest in the battle of I-90 (32-24) to claim the “NYS Lottery af2 Cup” for the first time ever. The win allowed the team to move to 2-2 on the season and into a tie for second place in the division. In a defensive battle, the Brigade was trailing at halftime 10-6, but was able to shut out the Conquest in the third quarter. Rochester scored on their two possessions to take a 20-10 lead and win the game 32-24, evening the season series.


Next week, the Brigade will face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers for the first time ever in a Northeast divisional match-up. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, at the Blue Cross Arena. Currently the Pioneers are in the basement of the division, with a victory-less season (0-4).


Penalties, Penalties, Penalties:

Last week, the Brigade set a team record with 17 penalties in a single game and a league record 168 yards penalized. On the season the Brigade is currently ranked dead last in penalties after accumulating 49 of them for 379 yards to make their average 94.8 per game.

Sacks vs. Sack Prevention:

One of Coach Saunders’ biggest adjustments in the off- season was to improve the Offensive and Defensive line, which has proven to be beneficial this season. The team is currently ranked fourth in the league with eleven sacks on the season, and third in sacks against with three for 18 yards. Leading the way for the Brigade is OL/DL Antonio Dingle, who leads the team with four sacks on the season.

Red Zone Defense: The Brigade has struggled against their opposition in the red zone this season, allowing teams to go a perfect 16 for 16 deep in the Brigade territory. The Brigade is currently ranked dead last in this category, allowing their opposition to tally twelve touchdowns and four field goals.

Rushing it in:

The Brigade is currently ranked fourth in the league in Rushing Offense, with an average of 42 yards per game. The team continues to bull their way into the end zone with ten rushing touchdowns on the season. The Brigade has gained 170 yards off of 57 attempts. The team is also ranked third in Rushing Defense only giving up 8.2 yards per game and 33 total yards on the season.

Fix Nearing the Century Mark:

WR/DB Aaron Fix is closing in on a tackle milestone, as he looks to accumulate 100 tackles in his career. After playing last season as defensive specialist, he led the team with 77 tackles. This season he currently has ten (nine solo) to give him 87 for his career in 18 games played.


Brigade OS Martino Theus:

Theus, is currently ranked third in the league in receptions with 35 for 417 yards, seven touchdowns and is averaging 11.9 yards per catch. He is also ranked fourth in the league in receiving yards per game, averaging 104.2. Last week Theus set Brigade records for receptions in a single game with 14, and receiving yards with 181. Theus added a bit more glitz as he caught two touchdowns from 25 and 41 yards.

Brigade OL/DL Antonio Dingle:

Dingle is currently ranked fourth in the league with four sacks. He is also tied for second in the league with two forced fumbles, and is tied for eighth in the league with three tackles for a loss of yardage. Dingle currently has 5.5 tackles (five solo) on the season.

Ninjas WR/DB Anthony Comer:

Comer is currently the team leader with 18 tackles (17 solo) with four passes defended and one fumble recovery. Offensively, he leads the Ninjas with 17 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns. He also has three rushing touchdowns off of nine attempts.

Ninjas FB/LB Kerry Taylor:

In his first game with the Ninjas, after being released from the Dallas Desperados of the AFL, Taylor led the team with ten rushes for 39 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, he registered 2.5 tackles (two solo) and forced one fumble last week in the team’s first victory of the season.


· Saturday, April 27, The New Haven Ninjas won their first game in franchise history, defeating the Mohegan Wolves 51-38.

· Saturday, April 27, Rochester Brigade win first road game of the 2002 season defeating the Albany Conquest 32-24 and taking home the “NYS Lottery af2 Cup.”

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