Twisters Earn Home Playoff Game with Overtime Win
(North Little Rock, AR) - The Arkansas Twisters earned home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs with a 40-34 overtime victory over a very competitive Amarillo team in front of a season high crowd of 6360.
The Twisters started the scoring early in the first quarter by marching down field and scoring in three plays. Jon Schoonover caught a 14 yard scoring pass from Brian Villanueva and the extra point gave the Twisters a 7-0 lead.
Amarillo answered by marching down field and scoring when quarterback Steve Panella found Steven Bergeski on a four yard touchdown play and the extra point tied it at 7-7.
The Twisters scored two unanswered touchdowns when Villanueva found Kevin Williams for a nine yard touchdown. Amarillo missed a field goal on their next drive and Arkansas turned it into points when Terrance Freeney scored on a five yard touchdown run to put the Twisters up 20-7.
Amarillo pulled within 20-14 when Panella found Derek Watson for a nine yard score.
Arkansas missed three opportunities to score at the end of the half but settled for a field goal after two dropped touchdown passes and a touchdown called back due to a penalty. The field goal was missed and the Twisters led 20-14 at half.
Everything went Amarillo's way in the second half. The Dusters held Arkansas to zero points in the third quarter while tying the game at 20.
Arkansas pulled ahead 27-20 to start the fourth when Villanueva found Robert Kilow for a 19 yard score. Kilow gave the ball to former Twisters standout Lennie Johnson and later broke Johnson's team record for all-purpose yards in a season.
Amarillo wasn't finished. They drove down field and tied the game at 27 when Panella completed a four yard touchdown pass to Dustin Johnson.
The ball literally bounced the Dusters way when they recovered the ensuing kickoff off the net to get the ball at the Arkansas 11 yard line. Panella hit Vinnie Olson for a seven yard score to give the Dusters their first lead of the game at 34-27
The Twisters answered with a 48 yard drive that included 28 yard caught from Errick McCown. Arkansas tied the game at 34 when Williams caught his second touchdown of the game and Carlton hit the extra point.
Amrillo nearly won the game when they tried a flea flicker with just a few seconds on the clock. Panella pitched the ball to Dustin Johnson who threw to a wide open Bergeski. Bergeski was unable to make the catch and the game went into overtime.
Arkansas started the overtime period on offense and capped off a 45 yard drive with Williams third touchdown of the game from Villanueva. The extra point was no good and Arkansas led 40-34.
The Dusters got an opportunity to answer under overtime rules. They started their drive at their own 14 yard line. Bergeski again had a chance to break Twisters' fans heart by hauling in the potential game tying touchdown, but dropped the ball on fourth down at the five yard line and no one near him.
Villanueva had his best game since coming back from a broken foot. He completed 27 of 42 pass attempts for 271 yards, five touchdown passes and no interceptions. McCown, who played his first game since June 2, caught nine passes for a game high 106 yards. Williams caught three touchdowns. Jason Simpson became the first player in league history to record 140 tackles in a season by finishing the game with 10.5 tackles. Tanner Varner earned Defensive Player of the Game honors with 8.5 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, and two pass deflections.
The Twisters earn a home field advantage for the first round of the ArenaCup Playoffs. Arkansas will host Bossier-Shreveport on August 4th at Alltel Arena. Playoff tickets go on sale Monday, July 30th at 9:30am at any Ticketmaster location.
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