Wranglers prevail in comeback victory
In a highly touted match-up of two Southern Division powerhouses, it came down to the wire as the Austin Wranglers battled back to beat the Georgia Force 53-52 on Saturday afternoon at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. Austin moves to 5-1 on the season, with a 4-1 road record.
Several defensive stops, consistent play on special teams and a number of forced turnovers led to the win, as the Wranglers were down by two touchdowns at one point in the first half. The most important stop came when Wranglers fullback/linebacker Torrance Marshall broke-up a Matt Nagy pass intended for Derek Lee in the end zone, preventing Georgia from scoring in the final minute of play.
The Wranglers got the ball back on downs, but were already ahead by one point and managed to run out the clock using a pass play to Derrick Lewis and two running plays with Kevin Nickerson and Dane Krager.
Taking the final lead of the game, the Wranglers used some trickery on fourth and goal as Fitzgerald faked a handoff to Sir Mawn Wilson and took the ball in himself for the two-yard touchdown run. Fitzgerald finished the day 23-of-32 for 213 yards and four touchdowns, including one rushing score.
Sedrick Robinson again came up huge on special teams as he continued to return the ball well. A LaGrange, Georgia native, he had five returns for 133 yards including a 57-yard kickoff return touchdown. Robinson also recovered a blocked field goal and returned it 10 yards for his second touchdown of the game.
Nickerson led the way for the Wranglers offense with nine catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns, including a season long 24-yard touchdown reception. He was named the Offensive Player of the Game in his first 100-yard receiving game this season.
In addition to Marshall's fourth down pass breakup, he also recovered a Derek Lee fumble in the first quarter and tallied two tackles in just his third AFL game.
The Wranglers took their first lead of the game with a Ramon Richardson eight-yard touchdown reception, his second in two games for Austin, 39-38. Still experiencing trouble on extra points, Todd Sievers had the kick blocked with 11:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Strong defensive play came from Wilson, as he intercepted at Matt Nagy pass with under one minute remaining in the second quarter. This opened the door for the Wranglers to quickly move down the field as Fitzgerald found Nickerson from 16 yards out for the touchdown to narrow the Force lead to two points. Force kicker Nelson Garner notched a 31-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, giving the Force a five-point lead at the break.
Austin was able to bounce back from an early deficit in today's game, as the Force quickly jumped out to a 14-0 lead, coming off a Robert Thomas two-yard touchdown run and a Jamin Elliott net recovery.
The Force were able to penetrate the Wranglers secondary early using Ironman of the Game Derek Lee as a deep threat. Lee was unable to come up with the final grab of the game in crunch time for the Force. The ADT Defensive Player of the Game was the Force's Jermaine Smith who managed to block a Sievers field goal and extra point attempt on the day.
Austin Wranglers Head Coach Skip Fosters says, "We are excited to return home to Austin and play in front of our great fans next weekend. This was a great Southern Division win for us and our guys played our hearts out."
Returning home after a five-game road trip, the Wranglers will host the New York Dragons at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 12 at the Frank Erwin Center. Information and tickets are still available by calling 512.339.3939 or by logging on to austinwranglers.com.
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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from March 4, 2006
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- Arizona defeats Kats - Nashville Kats
- San Jose Climbs Into First Place Tie In Western Division - San Jose SaberCats
- Wranglers prevail in comeback victory - Austin Wranglers
- Jones Activated for Sunday's Game - Tampa Bay Storm
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