SaberCats Extinguish Blaze, 70-59
|San Jose improved to 7-2 with a key divisional win over the Utah Blaze on Friday night
SaberCats Media Relations
SAN JOSE, Calif. - In an integral game for division seeding, the San Jose SaberCats (7-2) made the plays when they were most needed, and proceeded to defeat the Utah Blaze (6-3) by a score of 70-59. The 10,093 fans at HP Pavilion were treated to an aerial showcase, as a combined 83 points were put up between the two teams in the first half. With the win, San Jose now sits atop the Western Division of the National Conference.
The league’s second ranked scoring offense did not disappoint, posting 70 points for the fifth time this season, attacking the Blaze with a balanced offensive gameplan, throwing for six touchdowns and running for four more. Quarterback Mark Grieb had another solid performance, going 19-28 for 236 yards and six touchdowns. Three different wide receivers ended up with two touchdowns apiece, as Hank Edwards caught six balls for 51 yards and two touchdowns, James Roe had five catches for 64 yards and two scores, and Samora Goodson caught five balls for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
The rushing game did not fall far behind as newly appointed fullback Mark Lewis made his impression felt, rushing the ball nine times for sixteen yards and two touchdowns. But it wasn’t all Lewis rushing to pay dirt, wide receivers Edwards and Whittaker each ran for a score as well.
While the scoring dominated the first half, the defense managed to change the pace of the game in the second half, holding Utah to 18 total points. Although San Jose did not force any turnovers, they managed to pressure Utah quarterback Tommy Grady on a more consistent basis, also stopping the Blaze on two separate two-point conversion attempts. The top defensive performers for the ‘Cats were defensive back Andre Jones who finished with eight-and-a-half tackles, along with a pass breakup, and Tim McGill was the main culprit adding pressure up front, finishing the game with a tackle, and a sack.
Special teams for the ‘Cats was also vital as they recovered an onside kick with 7:48 to go in the third quarter and up nine, 56-47. The offense scored two plays later as Grieb found Goodson, moving the score to 63-47. Utah also missed two extra points and a field goal in the game, giving San Jose the important two score advantage at the end of the game.
Although the Blaze offense matched the SaberCats score-for-score in the first half, it was simply not enough to keep pace as the game slowed down in the second half. Quarterback Tommy Grady finished the game completing 26-47 passes for 397 yards and nine touchdowns. The loss spoiled an exceptional game by Utah wide receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku who finished the game with 13 catches for 211 yards and five touchdowns.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
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Utah Blaze .. 14 27 6 12 59
San Jose SaberCats .. 14 28 21 7 70
National Guard MVP of the Game: Utah wide receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku
Russell Athletic Player of the Game: Utah wide receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: San Jose defensive lineman Tim McGill
JLS Ironman: San Jose wide receiver Huey Whittaker
AFL Playmaker of the Game: San Jose wide receiver Hank Edwards
Cutters Catch of the Game: San Jose wide receiver Huey Whittaker’s one-handed catch in the first quarter
Spalding Highlight of the Game: San Jose wide receiver Huey Whittaker’s one-handed catch in the first quarter
ABOUT THE SAN JOSE SABERCATS
The ArenaBowl XVI, XVIII and XXI champion San Jose SaberCats, opened their 16th season in the Arena Football League Saturday night. Fans and sponsors can go to thesanjosesabercats.com or call 408-673-3400 to sign up to receive the latest news and updates about the SaberCats, as well as to purchase 2012 season tickets. Make sure to follow the SaberCats on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news on the team.