River Monsters Clinch Playoff Berth
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY - Just as it appeared Saginaw had claimed enough momentum to possibly steal a victory from the Northern Kentucky; the River Monsters used a perfectly timed timeout.
Following John Jacobs 47-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, the Sting seemed poise to tie the game with 50 seconds left in the game. However, following a defensive timeout, Saginaw kicker Chris Kolias missed the extra point and the River Monsters were able to seal the 64-56 Ultimate Indoor Football League (UIFL) victory Saturday at the Bank of Kentucky Center.
Even after Lorenzen scored with 11 seconds left in the game, the Sting had one last gasp. But that gasp landed firmly in the hands of defensive back Tez Morris.
"I was very proud of the defense," said head coach Rodney Swanigan. "They made a statement early. They stood up. Every point that Saginaw scored, they had to work for. They didn't get anything easy. I'm proud of the way the guys played, the way they reacted. We had a fumble late in the game. Coach called the timeout to ice the kicker and he missed it, which was the difference in the game."
With the win, NKY becomes the first team to clinch a berth in the league's four-team playoffs and opens up a two-game lead over second-place Saginaw.
Northern Kentucky was still able to be successful offensively despite missing two starters, receiver Harry Lewis and running back Maurice Douse. In addition to missing Lewis and Douse, receiver Butch Abshire was playing on a bad ankle after rolling it in pregame.
"We could have made excuse after excuse about why we couldn't get things done," said Swanigan. "But because of the depth, and the guys that are stepping in. That's what is making the difference. Our second-tier guys are just as good as our starters."
Saginaw took the early lead with a UNO on the game's opening kickoff, but that was the final time they would hold an advantage.
Quarterback Jared Lorenzen led the River Monsters on a four-play, 45-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard pass to Ricardo Lenhart. It was the first of a UIFL-record six touchdown receptions by Lenhart. Five of Lenhart's six scoring catches came in the first half.
Lenhart added another touchdown and Dustin Zink connected on his first of two UNO's as the River Monsters claimed the 14-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. Northern Kentucky was able to slow down the league's second-ranked defense for most of the game and maintain a two-possession lead for most of the game.
The River Monsters became the first team in UIFL history to have three different receivers record 100 yards in a game. Willie Idlette led the way with 123 yards on 11 catches, while Lenhart finished 12 receptions for 104 yards to go with his six scores. Abshire, who was playing in place of Lewis, added 100 yards on seven catches.
Lorenzen wrapped up the game, going 30-of-40 for season-high 327 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defensively, Kenneth Joshen returned for from missing three games with an injury to record a team-high nine tackles, while Tez Morris and Brett Hamblen each had five tackles. Morris and linebacker Jon D'Angelo added interceptions in the River Monster victory.
"(Joshen), he just went out there and played a great game," said Swanigan. "It's just his emotional lift and what he does. Everybody wants to bring their "A" game against us."
Northern Kentucky (8-1) continues their quest for the top seed in the four-team playoffs when they travel to Huntington (5-4) 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30. It's the first of two straight road games as the River Monsters will play Saginaw on May 6.
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Ultimate Indoor Football League Stories from April 24, 2011
- Hammer Beat Cougars 67-33 - Canton Cougars
- River Monsters throw final knockout punch-to end Sting win streak - Saginaw Sting
- River Monsters Clinch Playoff Berth - Northern Kentucky River Monsters
- UIFL Game Recaps - UIFL
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