Wranglers lose a close one at home, 70-63
AUSTIN- Following a two-game road swing that resulted in consecutive losses for the Wranglers, Austin returned home to the Frank Erwin Center looking for a much-needed victory against the Nashville Kats, but fell short in the closing minutes of the game, 70-63 in front of 11,869 rowdy fans.
From the opening drive, the Wranglers inched their way down the field completion after completion as Sedrick Robinson capped off the drive with a tough four-yard touchdown run. Nashville answered the touchdown with a score of their own, getting a 33-yard field goal from kicker Jason Witczak to bring the score to 7-3.
After the first Wranglers drive, tonight's starting quarterback Lang Campbell seemed to unravel as he threw interceptions in back-to-back drives, one returned for a touchdown by Ahmad Hawkins, the other resulting in a touchdown as well.
As a result of a team rules violation, regular starting quarterback Adrian McPherson did not start in the game as Campbell got the nod.
Following the costly turnovers, Head Coach Brian Partlow wasted no more time, and made a change at quarterback, going with McPherson for the remainder of the game. Quickly, McPherson took Austin down the field in four plays with "Mr. Everything," Dane Krager, capping off the drive with a punishing touchdown run to bring Austin within three, making the score 17-14.
Needing to put a stop to the suddenly-scorching Kats' offense, the Wranglers defense toughened up on a third and goal play to bring Nashville to fourth down, where Kats' fullback Dan Alexander added his second touchdown run of the half for another Kats' score, making it 24-14.
In what turned out to be a second quarter that would see plenty of scoring from both teams (48 points combined), the Wranglers went into halftime on a positive note when McPherson hooked up with receiver Otis Amey on a one-yard touchdown reception with one second remaining in the half to bring the score to 37-35 Kats.
Without missing a beat, the Wranglers started the second half as they had finished the first. This time, however, the scoring came from the defensive side when lineman Ramon Richardson sacked Kats' quarterback Jeff Smoker, causing a fumble in the end zone that was recovered by Rob Schroeder for a Wranglers' touchdown, putting Austin ahead 42-37.
However, the momentum would not last long for the Wranglers. Following an errant McPherson pass in the end zone that landed in the hands of Ahmad Hawkins for his third interception of the game, Nashville would score their second consecutive touchdown to regain the lead at 51-42.
With the third quarter coming to an end, and thoughts of a third consecutive loss on the minds of both fans and players, the Austin offense refused to throw in the towel as McPherson connected with Amey for the second time of the night on an 11-yard touchdown reception.
The Kats' offense responded the same way it had all night, with another huge score by outstanding wide out Cornelius Bonner, who ended the night with 6 catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns to lead all receivers.
The Wranglers maintained their scrappy mentality as they proved yet again that they would not let this game go without a fight. On the following possession, McPherson threw a touchdown to receiver Kevin Nickerson that was nothing short of spectacular effort from both individuals, bringing the Wranglers within one point of Nashville, 57-56.
After a series that included several Wranglers penalties, Nashville increased their lead over the Wranglers with a miraculous touchdown reception by receiver Kenny Higgins. However, the Wranglers' prayers were answered, as Nashville kicker Jason Witczak would miss his third point-after try of the night leaving only a seven-point margin, 63-56.
With a shade under a minute left, and Austin down seven points, the offense took the field in desperate need of a big play. Unfortunately, the big play would not come from the Wrangler offense, but from the Nashville defense, as defensive back Keon Raymond intercepted McPherson to seal a Nashville victory.
After a good start to the season, the Wranglers have lost three consecutive games going to 1-3 on the season while Nashville moves to 2-2.
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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from March 24, 2007
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