Xplorers edge out Wardogs in 65-62 Thriller
COLUMBUS (AP) - Michael Wall threw for 303 yards and seven touchdowns, and Kevin Prentiss caught seven passes for 110 yards and four scores, as the Memphis Xplorers outlasted a determined Columbus Wardogs team 65-62 before 3,699 fans at the Columbus Civic Center.
The Xplorers had problems all night with Wardogs QB Kyle Rowley, who had a remarkable night. Rowley completed 22 of his 24 passes on the night for 320 yards and seven touchdowns of his own, but was sacked on two crucial plays in the final seconds to help give Memphis the win.
The game started off with both teams showing off their offensive skills, as each team scored on their first three possessions. But with the score 24-21 Xplorers, the Wardogs ran off 15 consecutive points, including two touchdowns and a safety. With the score 36-24 Columbus, the Xplorers' outlook appeared grim. But a fumble by Columbus gave Memphis one more crack at the end zone, and they took advantage of it, with WR Deumaine Reeder catching a screen pass and rambling 34 yards for the score as time expired in the first half.
Trailing 36-31 entering the second half, the Xplorers got some incredible luck, as the opening kickoff bounced low off the rebound net and was recovered for a touchdown by Memphis's Kenzaki Jones. The extra point gave Memphis an improbable 38-36 lead, and set the tone for a second half that was non-stop fun and action.
Memphis scored the game-winning touchdown with only 50 seconds remaining, as Wall found Prentiss for the fourth time on a 16-yard pass up the middle. Despite getting the ball to the Xplorers 6 yard line with 30 seconds left, Columbus couldn't punch it in, and the Xplorers picked up the victory.
With the win, Memphis moved their record to 10-6 on the season, while Columbus dropped to 6-10. Unfortunately for the Xplorers, they were unable to improve their playoff positioning, as Macon lost to Birmingham earlier in the evening. The win guaranteed the Steeldogs the number 5 seed in the playoffs, meaning that the Xplorers remained as the 6th seed.
The Xplorers will play the Florida Firecats in the first round of the af2 playoffs this coming week. Date and time are yet to be determined. Florida will host the game at TECO Arena in Estero, FL. The two teams split their series this year, with Memphis winning at home 54-51 in week 2.
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