Wranglers lose to Destroyers 72-49
COLUMBUS-Three interceptions and several unnecessary penalty flags halted the Austin Wranglers attempt to win two-straight as they lost to the Columbus Destroyers 72-49 in front of 15,121 at Nationwide Arena.
For most of the first two quarters, the Austin Wranglers went stride for stride with the Columbus Destroyers, with both teams scoring on each possession. This remained the case until the Wranglers failed to convert on a field goal attempt that repelled off the iron and gave the Destroyers the ball back with 18 seconds remaining in the first half. Austin's defense held Columbus on that drive, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on defensive back Damon Mason moved the ball for Columbus leaving them with a 35-yard field goal attempt which kicker Peter Martinez was successful on, giving the Destroyers their first lead of the night. The score was 31-28 at the half.
Already up one possession, the Destroyers got the ball back after the half and quickly scored on a 19-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver David Saunders. Able to answer back, Wranglers quarterback Adrian McPherson found wide receiver Derrick Lewis in the end zone for a nine-yard score. The always-reliable Lewis had touchdown receptions of 24, 44 and nine yards to finish the game with five receptions for 103 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Austin receiving corps.
Destroyers quarterback Matt Nagy found Saunders again in the end zone again for Columbus, which continued to keep them up by one possession. Austin's offense began to sputter at this point, when McPherson lofted a long ball intended for Lewis, which was picked off by reigning ADT Defensive Player of the Year Jerald Brown. Adding 2.5 tackles, Brown also picked McPherson off a second time.
On the ensuing possession, the Damien Groce show began for the Destroyers as he scored one of his five touchdowns to make the Columbus lead 17 points. Still unable to get anything going offensively, a McPherson pass was tipped by lineman Kelvin Kinney and was intercepted by defensive back Rober' Freeman giving Columbus the ball back yet again.
Able to score touchdowns after each interception, the Destroyers pulled away 66-35 before the Wranglers would score again.
Finally finding some rhythm, McPherson found wide receiver Anthony Hines for a nine-yard touchdown to stop the bleeding. Trying to narrow the lead, Wranglers kicker Mark Lewis knocked an onside kick off the ground and several Destroyers defenders and Austin fullback Akarika Dawn recovered the kick.
Using his legs yet again, McPherson dashed down the field for a 33-yard touchdown run, putting his total at 64 yards on the night, which is the most in a single-game all season in the AFL. This would end all Wranglers scoring as Columbus' Groce found the end zone again for the final touchdown of the night.
Although the score was lopsided, the Wranglers were able to shutdown the Destroyers kickoff return unit that was previously ranked first in the AFL, averaging 24.8 yards per return. They were only able to tally 65 total kickoff return yards. On the other side, the Wranglers utilized the legs of Otis Amey who totaled 185 yards on eight returns, giving him 206 all-purpose yards on the night.
Austin didn't have too much to smile about defensively, but Mason pulled in his first interception of the season as he picked off Nagy and returned the ball 28 yards. He finished the game with six tackles and one pass breakup.
Next week, the Austin Wranglers (2-5) return home to host the New Orleans VooDoo (4-3) on Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center. The VooDoo are currently in second place in the Southern Division and have returned to play in the AFL this season after sitting 2006 out following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Saturday's game can be heard on AM 1300 The Zone and www.austinwranglers.com.
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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from April 14, 2007
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