Wolves Edged 53-50 by Pioneers in arenafootball2 league battle
WILKES-BARRE, PA-The Manchester Wolves were edged by the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Pioneers 53-50 in a downright dog fight between the two arenafootball2 league East Division archrivals in front of 4,913 engaged fans at the Wachovia Center, where the Wolves have been winless in their last 10 tries.
The tough road loss dropped the Wolves to 3-2 and the Pioneers , who improved to 5-1, remain the only team to defeat the Wolves this season. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton win gave Pioneers Head Coach Rich Ingold his 80th af2 win, the most in league history, and kept intact the Pioneers 21-game consecutive regular season home game winning streak. Nonetheless, the Wolves kept the outcome in doubt right until the final minute of the contest. In a classic af2 tilt between two of the top teams in the league, the score see-sawed back and fourth throughout the night until the Pioneers prevailed by holding the Wolves out of the end zone on Manchester's final drive and then running out the clock on their final possession.
Wolves quarterback James Pinkney had another outstanding effort as he completed 20 of 40 passes for 276 yards and scored six touchdowns without turning the ball over. Meanwhile, Manchester's defense dogged Ryan Vena, the former af2 Offensive Player of the Year and the man running the league's top-rated scoring offense, for four quarters and held him to 19 of 27 throws for 254 yards and three touchdowns and forced him to commit an interception.
With the Wolves leading 41-40 to start the fourth quarter, Kirby Griffin, voted both the Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game and the JLS Ironman of the Game as the Pioneers leading rusher (5-46, 2 TDS), ripped off a big ru n and then with a second-and-goal from the Manchester 3-yard line, Vena connected with Pioneers leading receiver Irving Campbell (6-87-1 TD) to give Wilkes-Barre the 46-41 advantage. But when Vena went for the two-point conversion, Wolves defensive back Brandon Isaac picked off the pass and ran it all the way back to tack the two points in the Wolves column instead and made the score 46-43.
The Wolves then marched down the field when leading receiver Emery Sammons (9-150-3 TDs) broke a tackle and turned a routine catch into a long gainer and on the next play Pinkney tossed the ball to tight end Rich Ranglin for his first score of the season and the 50-46 edge. But with a first-and-10 from their own 16, Vena pitched the ball to Griffin, who bulled his way to the Wolves 2-yard line on a 34-yard gain. Vena called his own number to cross the goal line and the Pioneers went ahead by the final score.
The first half was a battle from the opening whistle as=2 0both teams avoided any turnovers and traded scoring drives and missed PATs to end the first quarter tied at 13-13 and then they were also knotted 27-27 at the intermission.
The Wolves got on the board first when Pinkney engineered a four-play scoring drive on the opening series that culminated in a 29-yard strike to Jason Messing and Vena answered with a five-play scoring drive for the Pioneers first drive. Both teams were successful on their next two possessions, but each kicker missed a PAT so the score stood at 13-13 with one stanza completed.
The defenses took over to start the second quarter as each team was able to stop the other the first drive of the period, and then Pinkney found Sammons with an 11-yard strike to take a 20-13 advantage. Once again, the Pioneers answered with a 16-yard Vena touchdown pass to Irving Campbell and the teams were tied again at 20-20. Paul Jefferson, the Wolves leading rusher, put the Wolves back on top when the big fullback hurdled a defender to get into the end zone on a 12-yard run for his second touchdown of the season, but Vena connected with Campbell again on a 2-yard scoring toss to end the half.
The Wolves return home to host the Quad City Steamwheelers next Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena and kickoff is 7:30 PM. Later in the regular season, Manchester wi ll have the opportunity to exact revenge on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton twice when the Pioneers travel to face them on their home turf on June 11 and July 24 to complete the four-game home-and-away series. SCORING SUMMARY: 1 2 3 4 FINAL RECORD MAN: 13 14 14 9 50 3- 2 WBS : 13 14 13 13 53 5-1 PASSING: PINKNEY (MAN): 20-40-276-3 TDs 0 INT; 6 TDs; VENA (WBS): 19-27-254- 1 INT 3 TDs RECEIVING: (MAN): SAMMONS: 9-150- 3TDs; (WBS): CAMPBELL 6-87- 1 TDs RUSHING: (MAN): JEFFERSON: 3-25- 1 TD ; (WBS): GRIFFIN 5-46-2 TDS RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kirby Griffin (WBS) AARONS DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Troy Blackwell(WBS) JLS IRONMAN OF THE GAME: Kirby Griffin (WBS) CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME: Rich Musinski (WBS) 1st quarter one-handed TD catcc NIFTYtv.com HIT OF THE GAME: Larry Kendick (WBS) 4th quarter when he put James Pinkney over the wall
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