Wilkes-Barre/Scranton remains unbeaten
HUNTSVILLE -- The Tennessee Valley Vipers game Saturday night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers was a matchup of top teams in arenafootball2.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stayed unbeaten.
The Pioneers beat Tennessee Valley 34-30 before an announced crowd of 4,091 at the Von Braun Center. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton improved to 7-0 while the Vipers fell to 4-3.
"I saw two teams, including ourselves, play great defense," Tennessee Valley coach Milt Theodosatos said. "It was a defensive battle."
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton quarterback Ryan Vena completed 22 of 39 passes for two touchdowns and 215 yards. He threw three interceptions.
Vipers quarterback Chris Gunn completed 17 of 38 passes for two touchdowns and 226 yards. He threw two interceptions.
Tennessee Valley's Travis Blanchard caught seven passes for 107 yards with two touchdowns and also had a 58-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"I think we made a lot of penalties," Blanchard said. "It was a hard-fought game. Penalties just happened to beat us."
"We played them tough," Vipers defensive end Farouk Adelekan said. "They're the No. 1 team. We just made mistakes that cost us the game."
Tennessee Valley opened the scoring at 11:23 in the first quarter on Steven Lee's 39-yard field goal. The Vipers led 3-0 after one quarter.
The Pioneers went up 7-3 in the second quarter on Vena's 4-yard touchdown pass to Buchie Ibeh, capped by David Davis' extra point.
The Vipers responded with Gunn's 1-yard scoring run and Lee's extra point for a 10-7 lead. But, Vena connected with Ibeh from 20 yards and the Pioneers went up 13-10.
With 34 seconds left in the half, Gunn threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Blanchard to end a six-play, 45-yard drive. Lee's extra point gave the Vipers a 17-13 lead at halftime.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton got back on top in the third quarter on Vena's 6-yard run and Davis' kick to lead 20-17. Terrence Glover's 1-yard run made it 27-17, which was the score after three quarters.
Tennessee Valley climbed within 27-24 when Gunn connected with Blanchard from 22 yards. The Pioneers answered with Larry Kendrick's 2-yard run for a 34-24 lead.
Blanchard kept the Vipers close on his 58-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it 34-30. Tennessee Valley had the ball in the final minutes and moved to a first down on the Pioneers' 23 with one minute left. But the Pioneers stopped the threat with 30 seconds left when Chris Royal intercepted Gunn's pass.
Tennessee Valley travels to Fort Wayne on Saturday to play the Fusion.
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