Wolves Lose to WBS 63-34 at Home
MANCHESTER, NH- The Manchester Wolves were pummeled by the Pioneers 63-34 in a critical arenafootball2 league contest on Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena as they lost their third straight game and the sixth of their last seven while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton clinched at least a tie for the divisional crown with the win.
The Wolves (4-7) disappointed the 3,212 partisans on hand as they never led in the game and were simply outclassed by the arch rivals Pioneers (9-2), who have now beaten them in all three meetings this season. Although the Wolves were up against a clearly better team tonight, they certainly didn't help themselves with interceptions, fumbles, penalties, and special teams play that went south from start to finish.
Wolves rookie quarterback Mike Potts, playing in only his second af2 game, completed 26 of 42 passes for 302 yards with five touchdowns but he also served up two interceptions. Facing heavy pressure from the Pioneers vaunted defensive line all night, Potts tasted the turf twice on sacks by Justin Parrish and Darius Leak. Wide receiver Emery Sammons, who had 18 catches for 249 yards and four touchdowns in the two previous losses to the Pioneers this year, pulled in 10 receptions for 115 yards to be the Wolves leading receiver and scored twice. Although Sammons would earn honors as the Russell Offensive Player of the game and the Cutters catch of the Game, it wouldn't be enough to help his team from falling to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton yet again. Pioneers quarterback Ryan Vena had another good night against the Wolves, connecting on 16 of 25 throws for 204 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and added another rushing touchdown. JJ Outlaw was his favorite=2 0target as he hauled in seven passes for 96 yards and scored all four touchdowns through the air. Trailing 28-12 after the intermission, the Wolves closed the gap 28-20 when fullback Paul Jefferson rumbled 20 yards into the end zone and Potts and Deyon Williams connected on the two-pt. conversion. The Pioneers made the score 35-20 on a controversial play when Vena couldn't control the snap and the ball rolled into the end zone and was pounced upon by Kirby Griffin. The Wolves would score on their next drive when Potts and Sammons connected in the end zone, but the two-pt. conversion try was intercepted by Allan Barnes as the third quarter was completed. The fourth quarter belonged to the Pioneers as they would light up the scoreboard with four more touchdowns, aided by three successive scores by Outlaw and a critical Potts fumble on his own 12-yd. line that was recovered by Antwun Williams, who was the JLS Ironman of the Game. The Wolves mistakes included two lost fumbles, 11 penalties for 79 yards, two sacks surrendered and very sloppy special teams play throughout. Although the Pioneers would also give up two sacks and fumble once, their mistakes didn't have a significant impact on the game's outcome.
The first half was anything but special for Manchester's special teams as Wolves placekicker Chris Koepplin missed two PATs and a drive killing field goal attempt on a play that was botched from the snap , and the Wolves also gave the Pioneers great field position on their returns. To add insult to injury, the Pioneers scored on a Wolves kickoff return after Patrick Rouzard miffed the ball off the net and then missed tackling Larry Kendrick after he picked up the loose ball and ran it back in to the end zone. The Pioneers got out to an early 7-0 lead on the opening series of the game when Vena capped a four-play drive with a 29-yd. scoring strike to Outlaw. The Wolves answered with a nine-yd. drive of their own, aided by a pair of Pioneers defensive penalties, and Potts connected with Steve Savoy on a three-yd. touchdown pass so the missed PAT had the Wolves trailing 7-6. It took only another three plays for Vena to get his second but first rushing t ouchdown of the night when he kept the ball and bulled in from the one-yd. line and David Davis' PAT had the Pioneers up 14-6.
But only four plays later the Wolves made the score 14-12 when Sammons caught the ball and then deked through the defense to pick up extra yards on a 29-yard pass play as the first quarter ended. From there Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shut out the Wolves in the second quarter, even though the Wolves would march the length of the field to the Pioneers 1-yd. line but miss the scoring opportunity on a penalty for a five-yd. loss followed by the botched field goal try when the play went bad right from the get go.
The Pioneers would tack on two more scores with a Vena hand off to Irving Campbell and then the Kendrick fumble recovery and score on the kickoff coverage to take a 28-12 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Wolves have one more shot at the Pioneers this season as Wilkes/Barre Scranton returns to Manchester on July 24th in the regular season finale in a game that may determine the Wolves entry into the post season.
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