Wranglers notch home playoff game with win over Predators
The TD Waterhouse Centre was the sight of the Wranglers first win three years ago and after tonight, it marks the site where the Wranglers secured their first home playoff game in team history with a 67-43 win over the Predators in Orlando in front of 14,501.
In the win, Wranglers offensive specialist Derrick Lewis set a new AFL record for receiving yardage as a rookie, finishing the regular season with 1,411 yards. The previous record was set last season by Troy Bergeron of the Georgia Force who had 1,372 yards. On Lewis' heels though is San Jose SaberCats offensive specialist Ben Nelson who also has a chance to finish out the season ahead of Lewis.
Austin quickly quieted "The Jungle" when Wranglers fullback/linebacker Henry Bryant hit Predators quarterback Joe Hamilton as he was throwing, causing an interception by defensive specialist Donvetis Franklin. Franklin took the interception 33 yards, which set up a one-yard touchdown run by fullback/linebacker Dane Krager to give the Wranglers the lead early.
Krager rushed for three touchdowns in the game on six carries for 31 yards on his way to earning the Offensive Player of the Game honor. Krager also added one sack and three tackles for a loss.
The interception by Franklin was just the first of three recorded by Austin, including one coming from defensive specialist Deveron Harper and lineman Donovan Arp. Also recording a sack on the night was Arp who earned the Defensive Player of the Game. Linemen Marcus McKenzie and Bernard Holsey also added sacks, as Holsey tackled Predators quarterback Jake Eaton in the end zone just before the half. Eaton replaced Hamilton after the first series.
Special teams continued to prove successful for the Wranglers as the electrifying Sedrick Robinson returned his sixth kickoff return for a touchdown on the season. This one of the 52-yard variety gave him 157 yards on the night, propelling him to the Ironman of the Game. He also added a three-yard touchdown run.
Robinson has broken all major single-season kickoff return records for the Wranglers, finishing the regular season 1,800 kickoff return yards.
Wranglers kicker Todd Sievers proved accurate this evening as he was 8-of-9 on extra points and perfect on field goals, hitting on a 23-yard attempt.
Offensively, Austin used two quarterbacks in the win, as John Fitzgerald led the Wranglers down the field and Chance Mock was used in short yardage and end zone plays. Fitzgerald finished the game 17-of-26 for 159 yards and 3 touchdowns with one interception.
Fitzgerald found three different receivers through the air in Darrin Chiaverini, Kevin Nickerson and Lewis. Chiaverini led all receivers with seven receptions scoring once and Nickerson caught a 40-yard pass to finish the night with 62 yards receiving.
Now that the Wranglers first round playoff fate is certain, Austin will play Sunday, May 21 at 2 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center. The opponent will be determined from tomorrow's games.
Tickets for the home playoff game can be purchased at the Wranglers Box Office, which will open at 9 a.m. and will remain open until 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Wranglers Box Office is located at 2209 W. Braker Lane and the hours are 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Fans can also reserve their tickets by calling 512.339.3939 or by going to all H.E.B. ticketing locations.
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