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Wolves Edge Thunder

June 19, 2009 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Manchester Wolves News Release

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO-The Manchester Wolves edged the Mahoning Valley Thunder 59-53 in arenafootball2 league action on Friday night at the Covelli Centre to halt their three game losing skid while the Thunder dropped their 10th straight game this season.

While both teams started rookie quarterbacks and each relinquished four interceptions in the game, the Wolves improved to 5-7 and kept their post season hopes alive while the Thunder slid to 1-11. Mahoning Valley has now lost to Manchester seven times in seven games in the series between the two East Division foes.

But the Thunder looked as though they would finally defeat the Wolves as they jumped out to an early 20-0 lead in the first quarter aided by Manchester turnovers and they held a 34-20 lead at the break. Manchester got the ball to start the third quarter and quarterback Mike Potts, making only his third start in the af2, got his team well into Mahoning Valley territory. But facing heavy pressure on a first down, Potts served up his fourth interception of the night when former University of New Hampshire Wildcat Brandon Taylor, the Aaaron's Defensive Player of the game, created another Wolves turnover.

After Thunder rookie quarterback Brad Roach, making only his second start in the league, fumbled on Mahoning Valley's next possession and defensive back Brandon Isaac recovered the ball, Manchester scored on a deep strike from Potts to Emery Sammons to bring the Wolves within a touchdown at 34-27. Then the Thunder gave it right back on the first play of their next possession when Isaac picked off an interception as Roach went for it all on first down and Mahoning Valley committed its fourth turnover on four consecutive possessions.

Manchester knotted the score 34-34 on its next series with a Potts to Steven Savoy touchdown play and the game was tied for the first time with 5:36 left in the third quarter. The Wolves and Thunder would trade touchdowns until Manchester took its first lead of the game 48-47 with :55 seconds left on the clock.

There was no quit in the Thunder as they scored again when Quorey Payne, the Russell Offensive Player of the Game and Mahoning Valley's leading receiver with six catches for 84 yards and four touchdowns, took the ensuing kickoff right through the coverage and into the end zone to put the Thunder back on top 53-48. But the two-point conversion failed when Isaac, who led all Manchester defenders with five tackles, one recovered fumble, and three interceptions, made another big play and knocked the ball from the hands of receiver CJ Brewer.

The Thunder's on-side kick attempt went for naught as Manchester pounced on the loose ball deep inside Mahoning Valley's red zone and then Potts (32-47-273 yds, 5 TDs, 4 INTs) scored on the quarterback keeper. With Manchester ahead 56-53, Roach (16-32-221 yds, 6 TDs, 4 INTs)20fumbled the snap near his goal line with only :37 left to play and after defensive end Bryan Robinson recovered for the Wolves, the game was essentially over although Manchester added a late Chris Koepplin field goal to ice the win 59-53.

The Wolves victory was tempered by a leg injury to Sammons in the second half that knocked him out of the action and saw him return from the locker room on crutches. As of press time the extent of the injury to Sammons, who missed two games earlier in the season with a mild concussion, was unknown. With their top receiver on the sidelines, Savoy stepped up his game and ended the night with 14 catches for 120 yds and four touchdowns.

The Wolves travel to Quad City next week as they take on the Steamwheelers in an American Conference contest that will have each opponent fighting for a spot in the playoffs.

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