All photos by Shawn Jonas
SAN JOSE – With a record breaking performance, the San Jose SaberCats (14-1) cruised past the New Orleans VooDoo (2-12) 56-35 at the SAP Center on Friday night.
In the third quarter, defensive back Ken Fontenette broke current SaberCats’ Assistant Head Coach Omarr Smith’s franchise record of 114 total tackles in a season, set in 2008. Fontenette also set a season-high with 17.5 tackles in a single game.
“It’s a great honor, anytime you do anything to get your name in the record books for this franchise,” said Fontenette. “It’s all about the win and about the team and everyone has just set their individual goals aside.”
On the opening drive, the VooDoo drove down into the SaberCats’ territory before veteran defensive back Clevan Thomas halted the drive by making a one-handed interception in the end zone. Taking advantage of the turnover, the SaberCats got on the board first when Reggie Gray hauled in a 13- yard touchdown pass from quarterback Erik Meyer.
On the ensuing drive, VooDoo quarterback Adam Kennedy threw his second pick, this time by a diving effort from Fredrick Obi, his fourth interception in four games this season. San Jose capitalized on its fortune with a 10-yard touchdown reception by Darius Reynolds, extending its lead to 14-0. Reynolds finished with seven receptions for 73 yards and the one touchdown.
The VooDoo would answer, as Chris Duvalt, the leading receiver for New Orleans, grabbed an 11- yard touchdown, cutting the San Jose lead to14-7 with 4:35 remaining in the second quarter. Duvalt finished with a game-high 15 receptions for 165 yards and added three touchdowns.
After trading touchdowns, San Jose extended its lead when Meyer scrambled in from the one-yard line for the score as time expired in the first half, giving the SaberCats a 28-14 halftime lead. Meyer finished with 229 passing yards, completing 76.7-percent of his passes, throwing for seven touchdowns, adding another on the ground.
Late in the third quarter, San Jose forced a New Orleans turnover on downs, scoring immediately as Meyer lofted a beautiful touch pass for Ben Nelson, who made an over the shoulder catch in the end zone before crashing into the boards, extending the SaberCats lead to 42-14.
“They played with a lot of energy,” said Arbet. “That was the thing that we talked about coming out of the bye and I thought that they did that tonight.”
The VooDoo would answer on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Kennedy to Johnny Lester, cutting the SaberCats lead to 42-21. However, the SaberCats remained in control, as Meyer would connect with Gray for two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Gray finished with a team-high nine receptions for 92 yards and four touchdowns and is now two receptions away from breaking Rodney White’s franchise record of 134 receptions in a season, also set in 2008.
“We work very hard as a receiving core to be where we need to be when we need to be there,” said Gray. “Just getting that chemistry to where Erik can trust us and we get into the game and try to execute.”
Leading the league with 40 sacks on the season, the SaberCats added three, led by defensive lineman Jason Stewart, who had two. Stewart brought his season sack total to 10, joining teammate Francis Maka (10.5) as the two lone SaberCats with double-digit sacks on the season.
“They are as good as there is right now,” Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet said about his defensive front. “It’s tough for quarterbacks to sit there and try to throw the ball downfield with those guys barreling down on you.”
Rich Ranglin, the 2014 AFL Offensive Lineman of the Year, added a 13-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, bringing his total to six touchdowns on the season, doubling his total of three a year ago.
“Rich is a versatile tight end, which he self-proclaims,” said Gray about his teammate. “He is one of the best blockers in the league and his ability to come out of the backfield and catch the ball it allows teams not to key in on the receivers we have.”
Next week, the SaberCats will host Pacific Division foe the Portland Thunder on Saturday, July 18th in the third and final regular season games between the two teams.
Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations