Wranglers Beat Blaze In Thrilling Finish, 65-64
AUSTIN - After four straight heart-breaking losses, the Austin Wranglers returned home to the Frank Erwin Center in desperate need of a victory. Coming down to the wire, the Wranglers pulled out the win at home, 65-64, over the Utah Blaze.
From the opening kickoff, Utah's Clarence Lawson blazed down the field on a 28-yard kick-return, followed by a 21-yard touchdown from Utah quarterback Joe Germaine to Aaron Boone to cap off a one-play, forty-second scoring drive. However, the Wranglers would respond quickly as quarterback Adrian McPherson hooked up with receiver Derrick Lewis for a quick score of their own.
After a touchdown run by Utah's Germaine, Austin's McPherson and Lewis would connect again, this time on a 22-yard score, to tie the game up at 14 with just a shade less than four minutes left in the first quarter.
Following another Utah score by Boone, the Blaze got a little tricky as kicker Steve Videtich kicked a laser at the unsuspecting front-line of the Wranglers causing the ball to be deflected right back into the hands of Utah.
With less than thirteen minutes left in the half, the Blaze offense would remain hot, as receiver Siaha Burley would haul in an 18-yard pass in the corner of the end zone to bring the score to 28-14 in favor of Utah.
In desperate need of an answer, McPherson let his feet take care of business as he ran all over the Utah defense, capping it off with a 17-yard run. The touchdown run was the eighth rushing touchdown of the season for McPherson.
Austin Head Coach Brian Partlow felt the need for a little momentum swing following the touchdown, and decided to attempt an onside kick. However, the decision would fail in execution as Wranglers kicker Mark Lewis' onside attempt would fall in the hands of Utah's Boone, who would return the kick for a touchdown putting the Blaze up two scores.
Aside from the botched onside attempt, the Austin offense continued to do their job, as McPherson would find a wide-open Kevin Nickerson for a 43-yard score to bring the game back within a touchdown, 35-28.
With one minute, forty seconds remaining in the half, the Wranglers needed their defense to step up and put a stop to the Utah scoring attack, but Germaine would prove to be too much to handle as he connected with Burley for his league-leading 40th touchdown pass on the season, passing Dallas' Clint Dolezel.
The Wranglers would get a momentum swing on the ensuing kickoff as Utah opted to attempt another onside kick, this one falling into the sure hands of Wranglers D.Lewis.
After D.Lewis' onside recovery was returned to the one-yard line, the Wranglers offense failed to punch it in on three consecutive plays. With three seconds left in the half, Mark Lewis took the field to attempt a 21-yard field goal, but missed it wide right to leave the score at 42-38, in favor of Utah.
Following a first half that ended in failed execution by the Wranglers offense, McPherson would take the field looking to do whatever it took to get a score on the board. After back-to-back incompletions, McPherson would rely on his feet to put points on the board yet again, as he took the ball in from 11-yards out to bring the score to 42-35.
However, Utah would not let the Austin score phase them as kick returner Clarence Lawson would return the Wranglers' kickoff 55-yards for a Blaze touchdown.
The Wranglers offense seemed to lose their touch as receivers dropped balls, and McPherson was sacked twice, but with more than seven minutes remaining Partlow believed in his offense. The Wranglers' coaching staff decided to go for it on a fourth down from the 11-yard line, and McPherson connected with receiver Anthony Hines for a 39-yard touchdown score that would momentarily shift the momentum in Austin's favor.
Following the touchdown score the Wranglers defense wanted to make a statement of their own, and they did. Lineman Mike Williams sacked Germaine, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Wranglers Greg Brown.
The momentum had swung its way over to the Wranglers' side.
Austin's offense would take the field at the 20-yard line and after a McPherson completion to Anthony Hines, receiver Otis Amey would find his way into the end zone on a six-yard run that would tie the score at 49.
With one quarter to play, and the score tied up, Utah's offense took the field in an attempt to re-take the lead. Utah's Germaine did as he had done all night and connected with receiver Siaha Burley on a 17-yard touchdown that gave the Blaze the lead. However, kicker Steve Videtich would miss the following point after attempt, putting Utah up six points.
After a 22-yard kick return from Otis Amey, quarterback Adrian McPherson would find his favorite target of the night, receiver D.Lewis, for a 30-yard touchdown completion. Kicker M.Lewis would make the point after attempt to give the Wranglers their first lead of the night, 56-55.
The following Utah possession would prove to be a turning point for the Wranglers defense. Austin put the pressure on Germaine, and on third down, defensive lineman Donovan Arp brought the Utah quarterback down for a sack. Utah would be forced to settle for a 31-yard Videtich field goal attempt that was knocked right through the up-rights, putting the Blaze up 58-56 with seven minutes remaining.
After a 29-yard Lewis field goal put Austin up one point with just over three minutes left, Utah quarterback Joe Germaine drove his team down the field and found receiver Tom Pace for a 30-yard score that would put Utah up 64-59. The Blaze would decide to go for a two-point conversion to increase their lead to seven, but after a few defensive penalties, Germaine's pass would find the turf as the Wrangler's defense stopped the two-point try.
With under a minute to play, and only five points down, the Wranglers offense took the field needing a touchdown to win the game.
Completion after completion, McPherson led the Wranglers down the field, and it all came down to a second down play with twelve seconds left in the game. After dodging the Blaze defenders, McPherson found receiver Anthony Hines for a 17-yard reception to give the Wranglers the lead.
With two seconds remaining on the clock, Utah kicker Steve Videtich would take the field in an attempt to win the game from 46-yards out. With the Wranglers' fans on their feet and making as much noise as possible, the Videtich kick went wide left and gave Austin the win.
After a four-game losing streak, the Wranglers are back on track as they move to 2-4 on the season, while Utah goes to 4-2.
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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from April 6, 2007
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- Wranglers Beat Blaze In Thrilling Finish, 65-64 - Austin Wranglers
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