Wolves Lose to Albany Firebirds 53-52
ALBNY, NY-- Chris Koepplin missed what would have been a 37-yard, game-winning field goal with four seconds on the clock when the ball, which was long enough, hit the speakers in the Times Union Center and the Manchester Wolves lost to the Firebirds 53-51. The Wolves (3-4) have now dropped three straight games and three games in the East Division of the American Conference while the division rival Firebirds (3-5) have won three straight after starting the season 0-5.
Manchester dominated Albany in the first half, outscoring the Firebirds 38-14, but critical Wolves turnovers and mistakes in the second half allowed Albany to get back into the game. With under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, quarterback James Pinkney (16-27-236, 7 TDs, O INTs) was nailed behind the goal line for the safety and Albany took its first lead of the game 53-51. With Manchester unable to reach the end zone the rest of the way, that score would be the final.
It was the second straight safety surrendered and the second consecutive two-point loss for the Wolves in the last two games.
After a sloppy Firebirds first half that set Albany back four possessions, the Firebirds came out of the locker room trailing 38-14 but breathing fire in the third quarter and out-scored the Wolves 21-7. Down by one-possession for the first time since the opening minutes of play, Albany went for an onsides-kick, but failed to recover the ball; with the Wolves on the doorstep, the Firebirds defense kept the team in it with a huge fumble recovery from linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson. Three plays later Albany quarterback Stephen Wasil (26-41-346, 1 TD. 1 INT) launched a 43-yard touchdown to Jackson to knot the game at 44. Manchester re-claimed the lead on Steve Savoy's fifth touchdown reception of the game, but Jackson quickly answered with his team-high third grab in the endzone.
In the first half a pair of red-zone second-quarter turnovers proved costly for Albany. The Wolves scored on two of their first three offensive plays with passing strikes to Jason Messing and Savoy. af2 Iron Man of the week Christian Wise put Albany on the board with his first receiving touchdown of the game, but Savoy's second touchdown made it 19-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Firebirds were on the doorstep early in the second quarter, but Wasil tossed just his second interception of the year to put an end to the threat. Manchester's Paul Jefferson added a ground-score on the ensuing drive, but Wise caught his second of the game to cut Albany's deficit to 26-14. Later in the quarter fullback Derek Adams Jr. fumbled the ball just outside of the endzone to set up Savoy's third touchdown of the night; Manchester added a field goal and a safety before the first half ended.
The Wolves return home to take on the Mahoning Valley Thunder in a crucial East Division match-up on Friday, May 22nd at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Kickoff is 7:30 PM.
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