The Fusion Gets It Done!!
The Fort Wayne Fusion came into Saturday night's game against the Green Bay Blizzard with a number of things to prove. First, they had to prove to fans that they were truly an Arena Football team - the highest-caliber players, the most action and the best entertainment available in professional sports. Next, the team had to prove that they were worthy of sharing the field with the reigning American Conference Champions. Finally, Head Coach "Touchdown" Eddie Brown had to prove that he is not just the "Greatest Player in AFL History," but that he's a bona fide coach as well.
They did all three.
The night started off with a dazzling display of pyrotechnics and drama as the team's new mascot was unveiled. "Reactor," the super-hero wing-man of the franchise acted out a comic-book genesis at midfield before firing off lightning bolt blasts of "energy" around the arena. That was just where the fireworks would begin.
Once the teams took the field, it was all Fort Wayne in the first half - literally. The Fusion scored TDs on their first 3 possessions en route to opening up a 19-0 halftime lead they would never relinquish. QB Cody Hodges lived up to expectations with a solid night, going 16-30 with 4 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD and no INTs. He spread the wealth, too: 2 TD passes went to WR Jermaine Jackson, another went to WR Cesare Manning, and even OL/DL Lou Vega - yes, a lineman! - had one.
That is not to say that the Fusion were perfect. A number of times offensive drives stalled or ended with missed scoring attempts, but the Fusion's effort was enough to overtake the Blizzard. DB Marlon Maxwell intercepted Blizzard QB Ryan Hawk and the Fusion defense pitched a rare first-half shutout, but the Blizzard didn't go down without a fight. They put up a respectable 28 points in the second half, but it wasn't enough to keep the Fusion at bay.
The fans at Ford Field at Memorial Coliseum were as much a part of the story as the game. 5,133 excited fans kept the volume up and the Fusion pumped throughout the game. Reactor was up and down the field, in the stands and all around Saturday night, taking part in promotions and even taking a ride in a brand new Ford Fusion. The car was presented to a surprised fan at halftime, after he was led to believe he was going to take part in a field goal kicking contest. The promotion was the main event (aside from the game) that the team had been planning since joining the af2 in October.
Coach Brown also put a few demons to rest. Coaching against new Blizzard Head Coach Doug Lytle, who Brown had played against in the AFL, Brown notched a win in his first-ever game as a coach, following in the footsteps of former AFL players-turned coaches like Mike Hohensee (Chicago Rush) and Jay Gruden (Orlando Predators).
The Fusion will regroup this week and prepare for a road game against the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings next Saturday night. While the team has tonight to celebrate the franchise's first-ever "W," Coach Brown will have them back at it getting ready to try and make it a 2-0 start. As Bret Michaels, the larger-than-life frontman of the rock band Poison once said, "It ain't perfect, but it's rock n' roll!"
The Fusion weren't perfect Saturday night, but they were mighty good, and they accomplished their goal: win the game. The franchise also accomplished their goal: give the fans a rockin' time. And finally, Coach Brown accomplished his goal: give Fusion fans and the city of Fort Wayne exactly what they were looking for: a win in his - and their - first-ever Arena Football game.
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arenafootball2 Stories from March 31, 2007
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