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Week 3: Friday Night Matchups

April 10, 2008 - arenafootball2 (af2) News Release

MAHONING VALLEY THUNDER (1-1) AT WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PIONEERS (1-1)

FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2008 - Wachovia Arena (7,950) 7:00 P.M. ET

After opening the season with two home games, Mahoning Valley travels to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this week to take on the Pioneers. The Thunder are coming off a tough 45-39 loss to Manchester last Saturday. Thunder QB JOSH SWOGGER finished 21-of-42 for 177 yards and five touchdowns. The offense, however, never got into rhythm. Swogger was sacked three times and fumbled another three times, including two of which were recovered by the Wolves. WR DEMARCUS MATHES caught five passes for 52 yards and three scores in the losing effort. Defensively, DL KELLEN DRISCOLL had an impressive showing with 4.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception. Mathes leads the Thunder receiving corps with 10 catches for 161 yards and five touchdowns. Driscoll (5 TFLs, 4 sacks) and ROYCE MORGAN (3 sacks) have been the team's top defenders early on. As a team, Mahoning Valley's defense has been solid so far, limiting opponents to 39.0 points per game. The Thunder also lead the league in sacks with nine. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton enters this week's contest ranked No. 8 in latest league coaches poll. The Pioneers are coming off a 68-14 road win at Daytona Beach last Sunday. QB ROD RUTHERFORD passed for 221 yards and seven touchdowns in the win. WR COCO BLAYLOCK caught six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. DB MICHEAUX ROBINSON was a playmaker for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense with three interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. DL ISAAC HILTON also caused havoc with 4.0 sacks for the Pioneers. This week the Pioneers will start rookie MATT SCHABERT at quarterback after the team re-assigned Rutherford on Wednesday. Veteran KELVIN ROBINSON was brought in this week to be his backup. Rumors of the return of RYAN VENA could become a reality as soon as next week. This is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's first home game after opening with two road showings. This East Division battle looks too close to call.

QUAD CITY STEAMWHEELERS (1-0) AT LOUISVILLE FIRE (2-0)

FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2008 - Freedom Hall (14,500) 7:35 P.M. ET

The Quad City Steamwheelers travel for the first time in 2008 and head to Louisville to take on the Fire Friday night at Freedom Hall. The Steamwheelers should be well rested after enjoying a bye in Week 2. They opened their season on a high note in Week 1 with a 48-41 home victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. After trailing 20-7 early in the second quarter the Steamwheelers used a 21-6 second quarter run to pull ahead for good. QB J.J. RATERINK had a strong showing with 225 yards passing and seven touchdowns. Quad City DB MALIK JACKSON, the ADT Defensive Player of the Game, finished with 13 total tackles (10 solo, six assisted), along with two pass breakups. WR JESSE SCHMIDT finished with 10 catches for 101 yards and three TDs. WR KRIS PETERS was also a key contributor with two touchdown catches (5-95).

Quad City is ranked sixth in the latest league coaches poll. No. 3-ranked Louisville returns home this week after a 50-43 road win last Saturday at South Georgia. Rookie QB MATT BASSUENER continued his solid play with two touchdown passes and four rushing scores. He currently leads the af2 in rushing (98 yards) and rushing touchdowns (6). The Louisville defense came up big in the Fire's Week 2 win as well with three interceptions. RICARDO LENHART led the Fire receiving corps with 10 catches for 131 yards. LONELL DEWALT leads the group overall with 15 catches for 206 yards and four touchdowns. BRANDON REGISTER leads the squad with three interceptions while ZACH BABINGTON-JOHNSON leads the team in sacks with two. These Midwest Division foes have met 13 times overall. Quad City leads the all-time series 8-5. With a Louisville win, head coach TOMMY JOHNSON would become the league's seventh coach to reach 50 career wins. Expect this contest to be tight throughout.

TULSA TALONS (2-0) AT ARKANSAS TWISTERS (0-1)

FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2008 - ALLTEL Arena (6,820) 8:00 P.M. ET

The Tulsa Talons travel to North Little Rock this week to take on the Twisters in a Central Division affair at ALLTEL Arena.

The Talons, ranked No. 1 in the league coaches poll, are coming off a 65-28 home win against Boise. QB JUSTIN ALLGOOD continued his strong play with 253 yards passing and seven total touchdowns (6 passing, 1 rushing). JEFF HUGHLEY led the Talons with a game-high 12 catches for 118 yards and four touchdowns, while KELLEN ALLEN added seven catches for 107 yards and three scores. The Talons defense also came to play, forcing Burn QB BJ Rhode into a rough outing. Rhode completed just 19-of-46 passes (4 TDs, 1 INT). DB JERMAINE HOPE led the way with 7.0 tackles (5 solo) and five pass breakups for Tulsa. DB DELENELL REID (INT, 4 PBUs) and DL C.J. MCLAIN (2 TFLs) also did their part in the win. Reid leads the team with three interceptions. Allgood has thrown 12 touchdowns in the first two games against just one interception. The Talons rank among the af2's best in host of categories, including scoring offense (2nd - 67.0 points per game), scoring defense (2nd - 20.5) and turnover margin (T4th - +4). Arkansas, ranked No. 16 in the latest league coaches poll, opened their 2008 season with a 57-42 road loss to division foe Oklahoma City. The Twisters got down early, trailing 21-0 after the first quarter, and were never able to catch up. BRYON ROGERS led the team with three touchdown catches and JON SCHOONOVER led in receptions with nine for 96 yards. Notable defensive efforts were turned in by DL TITO HANNAH (2.0 sacks) and LB JON SESSLER (2.5 tackles, 42-yard fumble return TD). Arkansas bolstered its receiving corps this week with the acquisition of JAMAAL PERRY. Perry led the Bossier-Shreveport BattleWings in receiving in 2007 with 112 catches for 1,483 yards and 27 TDs. The Twisters and Talons are two of three original members of the af2. The Twisters are 4-4 all-time in home openers. They split the season series in 2007, 1-1. Arkansas is a better team than what it showed in Week 2. With another week of practice under his belt, Twisters QB KYLE ROWLEY and company should make this another highly-competitive contest.

MANCHESTER WOLVES (1-0) AT GREEN BAY BLIZZARD (1-1)

FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2008 - Resch Center (7,695) 8:30 P.M. ET

The Manchester Wolves travel to Green Bay, Wisc. this week to tackle the Green Bay Blizzard on Friday night at the Resch Center. The Wolves opened up their 2008 season last Saturday with a hard-fought 45-39 road win at Mahoning Valley. Manchester was led offensively by QB JUSTIN RUMMELL. Rummell, making his first start as a member of the Wolves, finished with 305 yards passing (22-of-33) and five touchdowns with one interception. Rookie WR EMERY SAMMONS hauled in seven passes for 93 yards and three scores. The Wolves defense was just as impressive, pressuring Mahoning Valley QB Josh Swogger all night. Swogger completed just 50 percent of his passes (21-42) and the Thunder offense never got into rhythm. Manchester also sacked Swogger three times and forced three fumbles, two of which were turned over to the Wolves. Manchester is ranked No. 9 in the latest league coaches poll. The Green Bay Blizzard, ranked No. 12, evened their record at .500 last week with a 37-35 victory at Tennessee Valley. As in recent memory, the Blizzard prevailed thanks to a solid effort on the part of their defense. Green Bay forced Vipers starting QB ANDY HALL to the bench after completing just 11-of-29 passes for 92 yards with one touchdown and one interception in three quarters of play. DB EDWARD KWAKU led Green Bay with 4.5 tackles and one interception while ANTHONY CRISSINGER-HILL made an impact with a 27-yard fumble return for a touchdown. WR SCOTT BURNOSKI earned the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game Award for Green Bay with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He leads the squad with 13 catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns overall. DB NATE GREEN leads the defense with 13 total tackles. Friday night will also be Green Bay's first home game since seeing their 11-game home winning snapped in Week 1 by Spokane. Before the Spokane loss, the Blizzard hadn't tasted defeat at the Resch Center since July 7, 2006 when none other than the Manchester Wolves got the better of Green Bay, 62-58. Manchester leads the all-time head-to-head series with the Blizzard, 4-2. With young quarterbacks and strong defenses on each side, expect this to be a relatively low-scoring affair.

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