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Riptide - Blitz Game Preview

June 22, 2004 - arenafootball2 (af2) - San Diego Riptide News Release

SERIES HISTORY: 2 Games (SDG 0, BAK 2) – The Blitz are the last team to have beaten San Diego in 2004, after a second-straight last-minute victory. After returning a kickoff for a TD with under a minute to play in their first meeting of the season, kicker Brian Walker booted home a 36-yard FG to win the second contest as time expired, 39-36. The Riptide had overcome a 19-0 deficit to tie the game late before Walker’s kick.

2004 SEASON: Week 13 marks the two teams’ third meeting of the season. They’ll face off once again at the Sports Arena in Week 17.

GAME NOTES: The ‘Tide has finally turned for this Riptide team as they extended their win streak to four, the longest in team history. With an unstoppable offense, an unforgiving defense, and smart play, the Riptide have bounced back from a rough 1-5 start and moved into playoff contention. This week, the Riptide will be shooting for their fifth straight win in a game that could draw them to within a half-game of the division lead.

San Diego proved last week that it’s not all about offense. Against the Islanders, Jesus Reyes returned a kickoff for a touchdown; Rico Curtis scored a touchdown off of a Trevor Misipeka forced fumble; and Rich Ehmke booted a 30-yard field goal to seal the win, the first made field goal for the ‘Tide in five weeks. That’s not to say that the offense isn’t still extremely dangerous. San Diego ranks second in total offense with 292.3 yards per game, third in passing offense with 275.1 yards per game, and fifth in scoring offense with 55.2 points per game.

The ‘Tide also feature a +6 turnover ratio for the year after chalking up three takeaways against Hawaii last week. The team has only given up the ball 13 times in the last seven games, using the better ball control to give the team a chance to score on virtually every possession. In last week’s game, they scored on 10 of their 13 possessions, had only one fumble and did not throw an interception. They have also employed an opportunistic defense to create crucial turnovers with consistency. WR/DB Nakoa McElrath is a prime example of San Diego’s improved ‘D’, compiling five takeaways in his last three games.

Quarterback Kane Claunch has been playing the best ball of his career and now boasts a passer rating of 113.8. His six-touchdown performance against the Islanders brought his total to 53 on the season, only three shy of his career high and the Riptide single-season record. Claunch isn’t the only one breaking records. Dwight Carter, last week’s Offensive Player of the Game, with four touchdowns and 144 receiving yards, set a new team record 27 career receiving touchdowns and is now just three yards shy of being the first Riptide receiver to break the 1,000 yard mark.

The Blitz dominate in the National West Division, with their only division loss coming to the Islanders in Week Four. The Blitz are led by receiver Eric Mahanke, who ranks in the af2 top ten with 79 receptions and 90.6 receiving yards-per-game. He is fed the ball from Quarterback Chad Elliot, who in two games against the Riptide this season is 51-of-66 passing (77%) for 536 yards and 11 touchdowns with just two interceptions in two games.

The Blitz, the last team to beat the ‘Tide, will be looking to end the San Diego win streak with another solid defensive performance. They held the Riptide to just 36 points in their last meeting, San Diego’s lowest total of the season.

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