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Wranglers beat Gladiators on final play, 42-41

March 5, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Austin Wranglers News Release

After losing to Georgia last week on the game’s final play, the Austin Wranglers worked some fourth quarter magic of their own, beating Las Vegas as time expired in Friday night’s game, 42-41.

On fourth down with :05 on the clock, Wranglers’ QB, John Fitzgerald, found WR/DB Kevin Nickerson in the end zone for the 14-yard game winner.

WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini led all receivers, catching 13 passes for 102 yards and three scores to help Austin get the hard fought victory.

In his first game back from injury, FB/LB Dane Krager, was named Ironman of the Game after catching three passes for 13 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, Krager had one tackle, a fumble recovery, and a big momentum turning interception in the fourth quarter.

The Gladiators won the coin toss and scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game when FB/LB Frank Carter burst over the goal line from a yard out. Fitzgerald and the Wranglers answered by connecting for a crucial first down on third and long which set up a 3-yard TD catch by Chiaverini.

The Austin defense held Las Vegas on their next drive, stopping their offense on downs and taking over the ball on their own 11-yard line.

After stopping the Wranglers on downs, Whelihan hit WR/LB Joe Douglass on an 18-yard strike to put Vegas ahead 14-7 midway though the second quarter.

Again, Austin answered back. Chiaverini caught a 25-yard pass from Fitzgerald that set up Krager’s first touchdown of the season, a 1-yard scamper. PAT Holder, Scott Dreisbach, mishandled the snap from Aaron Humphrey, leaving the score 14-13.

The Wranglers luck bounced back on the ensuing kickoff when Krager recovered the ball to setup Austin’s offense on the Las Vegas 6 yard line. Unfortunately, the Wrangler offense couldn’t capitalize and Tony Dodson’s field goal attempt missed wide to the left.

Vegas scored again just before the half to go into the locker room up 21-13. The game appeared to be a defensive struggle, but that would all change in the second half.

Early in the third quarter, Vegas kicker, Mark Lewis, missed a 55-yard field goal attempt. Tacoma Fontaine snatched up the rebound and returned it 42-yards to the Vegas 16. Three plays later, Fitzgerald hit Chiaverini fagain for his second TD reception of the game.

On the next drive, Whelihan found eligible lineman, William Mayes for a 21-yard score. But Austin answered right back on a 21-yard score of their own when Fitzgerald hit an open Charlie Davidson in the end zone.

The third quarter ended with Vegas up 28-27.

The Gladiators drove down the field again to start the final fifteen minutes of play, but Whelihan’s pass attempt into the end zone bounced off the iron and was caught by Krager for the interception. The turnover proved costly as Chiaverini caught his third touchdown of the game to put Austin ahead, 33-28.

After both teams traded scores, Whelihan hit Joe Douglass on a 43-yard bomb to put Las Vegas up 41-36 with 2:37 left.

Down, but not out, the Wranglers responded with an amazing drive that soaked up the remaining time on the clock before scoring on the game’s final play to get the victory. With the win, Austin improves their record to 2-4.

Next Sunday, the Wranglers will host the Dallas Desperados in the “Cattle Drive on I-35”. Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.

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