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 Northern Arizona Wranglers

Northern Arizona Keeps Four-Game Winning Streak Alive, Defeating Duke City 34-31

April 22, 2024 - Indoor Football League (IFL)
Northern Arizona Wranglers News Release

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona Wranglers won their fourth consecutive game, beating the Tucson Sugar Skulls on the road 34-31.

The Wranglers began this Western Conference showdown with their defense on the field. The Sugar Skulls ran a lot of plays during their opening drive and held onto the ball for what felt like an eternity after numerous penalty flags. Wranglers defensive end Tramond Lofton blocked a field goal attempt, giving the Wranglers possession midway through the game's opening quarter. The Wranglers got into the end zone with a pass from quarterback Joshua Jones to wide receiver Kobay White. The Wranglers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead over the Sugar Skulls. The first quarter came to a close with Tucson in possession of the football.

Northern Arizona began the second quarter on defense, holding a seven-point lead. The Wranglers defense stood tall, forcing the Sugar Skulls to turn the ball over on downs. The Wranglers scored a touchdown in just two plays, jumping out to a 13-point lead in a flash. Jones found wide receiver John Maldonado wide-open, and he strolled in for the 39-yard score. The Sugar Skulls offense responded, nabbing their first score of the game on their ensuing possession.

Northern Arizona's offense went back out on the field midway through the second quarter with a 13-7 lead over Tucson. The Wranglers and Sugar Skulls traded fourth-down stops on the next two possessions, with the game going scoreless for two drives. With the Wranglers back on offense, Jones took a score in with his legs, as he ran for the 12-yard touchdown. On the following possession, Wranglers defensive back Kevin Hyde nabbed an interception, setting the Wranglers up for more points just before halftime. Wranglers kicker Axel Perez nailed his second field goal attempt to extend the Wranglers' lead. Head coach Les Moss successfully won an illegal defense challenge that gave Perez the chance to re-kick the first missed attempt.

The Wranglers entered the locker room at halftime with a 23-7 lead over the Sugar Skulls.

Northern Arizona began the second half of this contest on offense, but they stalled out at the Sugar Skulls' nine-yard line. The Wranglers turned the ball over on downs, surrendering a Sugar Skulls touchdown on the ensuing possession. The Wranglers' offense started to struggle with penalties, putting themselves in a first-and-28 situation. The Wranglers overcame this with two great plays back-to-back. Jones found Maldonado for a 15-yard gain, and then Jones scrambled for 22 yards to pick up the first down. The Wranglers held the ball and the lead by a score of 23-13 at the end of the third quarter.

At the start of the game's final quarter, Jones located wide receiver Tosin Oyekanmi for his first receiving touchdown of the season, as well as his first in the Indoor Football League. The Wranglers extended their lead after a successful two-point conversion scored by wide receiver Gene Coleman II. Northern Arizona was in front of the Sugar Skulls by a score of 31-13. On the following possession, the Sugar Skulls answered quickly with a touchdown of their own, cutting the Wranglers' lead back down to 12 points. Perez kicked his second successful field goal of the game on the next drive for the Wranglers.

The Wranglers held a 15-point lead with just over eight minutes left in the game. Northern Arizona made it a little too close for comfort at the end, allowing the Sugar Skulls to crawl back into the game. The Wranglers would surrender two consecutive touchdowns, as the offense turned the ball over on downs between both Tucson touchdowns. The Wranglers found themselves ahead by just three points inside the final minute of the game. Tucson failed to recover their onside kick attempt, and the Wranglers were able to run the clock out in victory formation.

Northern Arizona earned a victory on the road, getting their fourth win in-a-row, and improving their record to 4-1 on the season. The Wranglers committed seven penalties in a game that had 18 total calls. White led the Wranglers in receiving, gaining 76 yards and one touchdown on four receptions. Defensive back Malik Sonnier lead the Wranglers with five and a half tackles. Northern Arizona will be on the road again next weekend, for a Sunday showdown with the San Diego Strike Force. The Wranglers will need to keep their foot on the gas and clean some things up to get the win in San Diego.

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