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Wranglers fall to LA at home, 64-55

February 12, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Austin Wranglers News Release

Wranglers quarterback John Fitzgerald, in his first start, was impressive throwing five touchdowns and yielding one pick. Austin led 24-23 going into the half, but a series of turnovers on special teams ultimately led to another Wrangler defeat, 64-55.

Cagey veteran John Kaleo played like his same old self as he lit up the scoreboard once again in the Frank Erwin Center. Only this time he wore red.

The Avenger quarterback looked at home, throwing for 240 yards and five touchdowns. Los Angeles pulled away in the second half after two costly turnovers on special teams. The Wranglers went into the half leading by one; they were soon down 16 just minutes into the third quarter.

The first half was a clean battle as both teams exchanged blows. On the first drive of the game Wrangler QB John Fitzgerald forced a desperation pass on fourth down. The play was intercepted then fumbled and recovered by Los Angeles keeping Austin off the scoreboard.

On the Avengers first play from scrimmage, Kaleo struck gold from his own 2 yard line as he found WR/DB Jerome Riley for the 48 yard touchdown.

Austin had trouble yet again in the red zone. After being stifled on three downs, head coach Skip Foster opted to put some points on the board. Wrangler K Tony Dodson knocked it in to trim the lead to 7-3 with just under four minutes in the first quarter.

The Wrangler defense contained the Avengers and kept them out of the end zone. LA was forced to kick three, as K Remy Hamilton added to the score, his first of five successful field goals on his way to becoming the Army Ironman of the game.

Both teams scored on run plays in the second quarter. Wrangler OL/DL Ramon Richardson plunged in from the 4 yard line to knot the score at 10. Los Angeles FB/LB Lonnie Ford had a draw go for 15 yards then later capped off the drive with a score of his own breaking the tie.

Austin responded with a pair of long touchdown strikes, the first to OS Ira Gooch on a deep post for a 25 yard touchdown. Gooch hopped onto the padded wall and straddled it as if riding horseback to the crowd’s pleasure.

Gooch provided a valiant in his debut, catching two touchdowns and hauling in seven receptions for 108 yards. Soon the crowd would be chanting “Goooooooch!” every time he touched the ball.

Just before the half, WR/LB David Hill hauled in his first of two touchdowns of his young career, giving the Wranglers some momentum going into the half leading 24-23.

Kaleo came out of the half firing, leading his troops right down the field finding WR/DB Kevin Ingram near the pylon for the go-ahead touchdown that would put them up for good.

On the ensuing kickoff, WR/DB Charlie Davidson was stripped of the ball and the Avengers quickly recovered. Remy Hamilton tacked on another three points to push the margin to nine.

Another tricky kickoff spelled trouble for the Wranglers. WR/DB Kevin Nickerson couldn’t judge the ball off the net and OL/DL palmed the ball out of the air and waltzed in for the quickest seven points in sports.

“The ball comes off the net in a million different ways, but everybody’s got to play that way so that’s not an excuse,” said head coach Skip Foster.

The Wranglers soon found themselves in a deep hole midway through the third quarter. QB John Fitzgerald in his first start had a solid day going 26-40 with five touchdowns and throwing one interception.

The back breaker came from Avenger WR/LB Jerome Riley who broke three tackles in route to an improbable touchdown that had Los Angeles ahead by 24 early in the fourth quarter.

“We’re close. Everybody knows we can play together,” said Fitzgerald. “What bothers me is that we’re 0-3, but we still gotta turn this around in Grand Rapids next week, we’re not out of it.”

Austin will look to get their first win of the season when the visit Grand Rapids next Saturday. Los Angeles takes their 2-1 record back home when the play San Jose.

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