Wranglers win in thrilling fashion
AUSTIN - The Austin Wranglers got their 2007 season back on track with a thrilling overtime victory at the Frank Erwin Center beating Southern Division opponent the New Orleans VooDoo 45-38 in front of 13,405 rowdy fans. This was the first overtime game that has taken place in Austin, in the team's history
From the start, the Wranglers would get the fans on their feet as quarterback Adrian McPherson scrambled his way out of the arms of VooDoo defenders for a 25-yard gain following a sack the play before. Austin fullback Chad Dukes would finish off the drive by pounding the ball in from the one-yard line for the first Wranglers score. The Wranglers jumbo formation paved the way for Dukes.
Following the Austin touchdown, New Orleans took the ball down the field trying to find their own rhythm. As they were on the one-yard line looking to punch it in on a fourth-and-goal play, the Wranglers defense would refuse to let VooDoo fullback, and former Wranglers fan favorite, Henry Bryant into the end-zone, holding him out on the one-yard line.
With the momentum now on the side of the Wranglers, McPherson and the offense took over at their own one-yard line. Taking his team down the field completion after completion, McPherson found Kevin Nickerson for a 13-yard score to put Austin up, 14-0. McPherson would start the game hot, as he completed his first ten passes.
New Orleans would have an answer towards the end of the first half, as they would score three touchdowns and a safety in the second quarter to take the lead for the first time in the game, 22-17.
Following his hot 10-of-10 start, McPherson would finish the half 16-of-20 for 146 yards and two touchdowns, one coming at the end of the half when he connected with stud receiver Derrick Lewis to regain the lead 24-22.
The second half would start with the two teams trading scores, until the Wranglers thought they finally had stopped the New Orleans offense when Sakeen Wright picked off VooDoo quarterback Andy Kelly and returned it for a touchdown. However, the play would be brought back due to a defensive penalty by the Wranglers that would give New Orleans the ball back, and eventually lead to a VooDoo score to put them ahead 32-31.
With eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, and the Wranglers down seven, the Austin defense needed to step up and continue making big plays to keep their team in it. On a third-and-one, the Wranglers secondary would slip up and leave VooDoo receiver Jacques Rumph wide open in the end zone for a touchdown. However, the Wranglers would get a second chance due to an offensive holding penalty that would negate the touchdown and bring up a third-and-eleven. This time, Austin took advantage and forced a fumble that was recovered by Wranglers lineman Mike Williams, giving the Wranglers a chance to tie up the score.
The VooDoo would cause a turnover of their own on the following Wranglers possession, sacking McPherson to force a fumble that was recovered by New Orleans linebacker Tremaine Neal. However, the Wranglers would hold New Orleans to a field goal attempt that was blocked by newly acquired lineman Terrance Ford. Signed off the VooDoo practice squad just this week, Ford made an instant impact on special teams and kicking situations.
After the blocked field goal, the Austin offense would need only one play to tie up the score, as McPherson would find a wide-open Otis Amey for a 45-yard touchdown, tying the score at 38.
With one-minute left to play, the Wranglers defense would have to hold the New Orleans offense in order to have a chance to win. After giving up a couple of first downs, the Wranglers would bring up a fourth down for the VooDoo offense on the six-yard line, which left New Orleans with a 21-yard field goal attempt. With the fans on their feet and the Wranglers ready to attempt to block yet another field goal, New Orleans kicker Eric Houle would miss to the right off the iron, sending the game into overtime.
For the first time ever, the Wranglers would have a home game go into overtime. Previously, they had been in only two overtime games, both on the road, and were 1-1 overall.
The Wranglers would start on offense in overtime. After McPherson had drove the Wranglers down the field, receiver Otis Amey would take the final plunge into the end zone on a three-yard run, giving Austin the lead, 45-38.
New Orleans would have one last chance to tie the score up and continue the game, but the Wranglers wanted this one, and they wanted it now. After a completion to Rumph, Wranglers Sakeen Wright stripped the ball out of his hands, and Deveron Harper recovered the fumble to seal the Austin victory.
With the win, the Wranglers move to 3-5 on the season entering their bye-week, while New Orleans drops to 4-4 overall.
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