Tag Archives: Francis Maka

National Conference Championship Game Preview: San Jose SaberCats Face Arizona Rattlers

All photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE – The no.1 seed San Jose SaberCats will host the no.2 seed Arizona Rattlers for the National Conference Championship Game on Saturday, August 22nd at the Stockton Arena. Kickoff is set for 5:00 pm PDT and you can catch the action on ESPNEWS, as well as KDOW 1220AM.

One of the best rivalries in Arena Football League history will add another chapter to the saga, with a trip to Arena Bowl XXVIII on the line. Three weeks ago the San Jose SaberCats clinched home field advantage throughout the 2015 AFL playoffs with a home victory. That crucial win was over the three-time defending Arena Bowl Champion Rattlers, the same team that knocked the SaberCats out of the playoffs in last season’s National Conference Championship game.

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This season, however; San Jose statistically has the top scoring offense and defense in the league, while defeating teams by a remarkable average of 22.2 points per game in the regular season.
The previous meeting between these rivals was on July 31st, where the SaberCats defeated the Rattlers 56-29. San Jose held a slight, 29-26 lead at halftime, before outscoring Arizona 27-3 in the second half, en route to the victory. Quarterback Erik Meyer threw for 286 yards and eight touchdowns (second highest total of the season), while completing 72.5-percent on his passes and was not sacked. Despite the strong attack of the Rattlers’ pass rush, the SaberCats offensive line proved to be a force in keeping Meyer protected.
The receiving tandem of Reggie Gray and Maurice Purify asserted itself as the catalyst on offense. Each had three touchdown receptions in the contest, with Gray hauling in 11 receptions for 88 yards and Purify leading the way with 108 receiving yards. The leading receivers for the SaberCats over the final three weeks of the regular season propelled San Jose to 289.0 total yards of offense per game.

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Ranked as the number one scoring defense this season, the SaberCats held Arizona to under 30 points for the first time this season. The leading tackler in the AFL this season, Second Team All-Arena defensive back Ken Fontenette had eight tackles and broke up four passes.

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Roaming the middle of the box, David Hyland had 7.5 tackles two pass breakups and an interception of Nick Davila. Leading the league in total sacks, the San Jose pass rush was a disruptive force, totaling three sacks, led by Donte Paige-Moss with 1.5 sacks. Earning 2nd Team All-Arena Francis Maka had 0.5 sacks and blocked a kick, which was returned by Rodney Fritz in the second quarter.

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To reach the National Championship game, the SaberCats defeated the Portland Thunder in the quarterfinals of the AFL playoffs last week. Jumping out to a 35-7 lead, San Jose remained in control, answering on any attempt the Thunder had at a comeback.
First Team All-Arena receiver Reggie Gray, the AFL leader in receptions and total touchdowns this season, returned a 57-yard kickoff for a touchdown and added two more receiving scores while Maurice Purify led the SaberCats with seven receptions for 81 yards. In his sixth season with San Jose and a member of the 2007 Arena Bowl Champion SaberCats squad, Ben Nelson had 50 receiving yards, adding two touchdowns as well. With the elusive D.J. Stephens and “Superman” Odie Armstrong, the SaberCats offense, which led the AFL in scoring (58.9 points per game), has an array of talented weapons for the 2013 AFL MVP Meyer to unleash.
Meanwhile, the Rattlers advanced to the National Conference Championship game behind a 72-41 home victory over the Spokane Shock. Davila threw eight touchdown passes, including four to Rod Windsor, who hauled in nine receptions for 112 yards. Chase Deadder led the way for Arizona with nine receptions for 121 yards, adding three touchdowns.

Arizona was in first half battle with the Shock, holding a slight, 30-28 lead at halftime before outscoring the Shock 42-13 in the second half. Defensively, the Rattlers had interceptions by Jeremy Kellem and Ben Wells, while Marcus Pittman added a sack.

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With a win over the Rattlers, the SaberCats would host Arena Bowl XVIII at the SAP Center on Monday, August 31st for a chance at a team’s fourth championship. The winner of this game will face off against the winner of the American Conference Championship game between the Philadelphia Soul and the Jacksonville Sharks.

Game Preview Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

AFL Announces All-Arena Defensive Team

Photos by Shawn Jonas

LAS VEGAS – Eighteen players earned 2015 First and Second Team All-Arena Defense honors, the AFL Office announced today.

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Headlining the First Team All-Arena squad at defensive end were Joe Sykes, who set new single-season AFL records with 18.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles as a member of the Jacksonville Sharks, and James Ruffin, who logged double-digit sacks (11) for the second consecutive year with the Spokane Shock. San Jose SaberCats nose guard Jason Stewart earned First Team recognition as well after leading all AFL middle men with 10 sacks on the season.

First Team All-Arena Mac linebacker honors went to Tyre Glasper of the Arizona Rattlers, who finished his 2015 campaign with a franchise record 11.5 sacks, while the First Team Jack linebacker was Alvin Ray Jackson of the Jacksonville Sharks, who led all Jacks with 11 takeaways on the year.

Jeremy Kellem of the Arizona Rattlers, James Romain of the Philadelphia Soul and Greg Reid of the Jacksonville Sharks were selected First Team All-Arena defensive backs. Kellem led the League with 14 interceptions, while Romain tallied a career-high 10 picks on the year. Reid led all AFL rookies with nine interceptions and 21 pass breakups. Portland Thunder wide receiver Duane Brooks also earned First Team All-Arena honors as a kick return specialist. Brooks led the League with 1,994 kickoff return yards and an AFL record eight kickoff return touchdowns in 2015.

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Nine more players earned Second Team honors, including: defensive ends Mike McAdoo of the Arizona Rattlers and Bryan Robinson of the Philadelphia Soul; Cleveland Gladiators nose guard Willie McGinnis; San Jose SaberCats Mac linebacker Francis Maka; Orlando Predators Jack linebacker Terence Moore; defensive backs Ken Fontenette of the San Jose SaberCats, James Harrell of the Tampa Bay Storm and Rayshaun Kizer of the LA KISS; and kick return specialist Brandon Thompkins of the Orlando Predators.

First Team All-Arena Defense
Second Team All-Arena Defense
DE Joe Sykes, Jacksonville
DE James Ruffin, Spokane
NG Jason Stewart, San Jose
MLB Tyre Glasper, Arizona
JLB Alvin Ray Jackson, Jacksonville
DB Jeremy Kellem, Arizona
DB James Romain, Philadelphia
DB Greg Reid, Jacksonville
KR Duane Brooks, Portland
DE Mike McAdoo, Arizona
DE Bryan Robinson, Philadelphia
NG Willie McGinnis, Cleveland
MLB Francis Maka, San Jose
JLB Terence Moore, Orlando
DB Ken Fontenette, San Jose
DB James Harrell, Tampa Bay
DB Rayshaun Kizer, LA
KR Brandon Thompkins, Orlando

Press Release Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Advance With A 55-28 Win Over The Portland Thunder

All photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE – The San Jose SaberCats (1-0) moved on to the National Conference Championship game, with a 55-28 victory over the Portland Thunder (0-1) on Friday night at the SAP Center.

The tenacious SaberCat defense, which forced 45 turnovers in the regular season struck again, as Jered Perry caught a pass from Kyle Rowley but was stripped by Ken Fontenette and the fumble was recovered by David Hyland. Fontenette, who led the Arena Football League in tackles this season (146.5), finished with 9.5 tackles and an interception.

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Capitalizing on the turnover, San Jose scored on a four-yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Maurice Purify, getting on the board first with an early, 7-0 lead. With fourth down stops by each team, Portland regained possession in the second quarter, evening the score at 7-7, behind a 33-yard pass from Rowley to Jamar Howard. Howard led the Thunder with eight receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

The SaberCats immediately regained the lead at 14-7, when Meyer threw a beautiful touch pass to the back corner of the end zone for the veteran Ben Nelson, who hauled in the pass as he crashed into the boards for the 22-yard touchdown reception. Meyer completed 20-of-36 for 215 yards and six total touchdowns.

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For the third consecutive game, David Hyland had an interception, this time reading the eyes of Rowley as he roamed the middle of the defense. The turnover set up the SaberCats with ample field position to capitalize, with a four-yard touchdown reception by Reggie Gray, as the lead swelled to 21-7. The SaberCats would end the first half with another touchdown reception by Gray, this time for 16-yards, propelling San Jose to a 28-7 halftime lead over Portland.

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Opening the second half, Nelson would add another touchdown as San Jose stretched its lead to 35-7. But Thunder struck when Duane Brooks, the AFL leader with eight kickoffs returned for a touchdown in the regular season, broke away for a 54-yard score, cutting the SaberCats lead, 35-14. Portland’s defense would hold the SaberCats on fourth down, regaining possession within the
SaberCats’ five yard line. Looking to score on fourth down, Rowley was sacked by Francis Maka, the team’s leader in sacks this season (11).

Fighting to extend its season, the Thunder would force a fumble from a Rich Ranglin screen pass, converting with a two-yard pass from Rowley to Howard to bring Portland with reach at 35-21. Just as the Thunder drew within striking distance, Gray returned the kickoff for a 57-yard touchdown, extending the SaberCats lead to 41-21 as the third quarter came to an end. Gray, AFL regular season leader in receptions and touchdowns, had four receptions for 36 yards and three total touchdowns.

Scoring six total touchdowns last week against the LA KISS in the regular season finale, Purify put on an encore performance, leading the SaberCats with 81 yards on seven receptions.

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Meyer opened the fourth with a nine-yard scamper to pay dirt, and with less than a minute remaining Odie Armstrong added another touchdown on the ground, putting the finishing touches on the victory.

Up next for the SaberCats is a second consecutive trip to the National Conference Championship, facing the winner of the Arizona Rattlers and Spokane Shock game. The National Conference Championship game will be played at the Stockton Arena on Saturday, August 22.

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Beat LA KISS 60-30 Tie League Regular Season Record (17-1)

August 8, 2015 – 10:07pm

LOS ANGELES – The San Jose SaberCats (17-1) wrapped up the regular season with a 60-38 victory over the LA KISS (4-14) on Saturday night. With the win, San Jose tied last season’s Cleveland Gladiators with a 17-1 regular season record, the best mark in Arena Football League history for the 18 game format.

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The SaberCats outscored the KISS 23-7 in the second half and Maurice Purify scored the first five touchdowns for the SaberCats, including two from quarterback Erik Meyer. Meyer finished with 120 yards and two touchdowns on 7-of-10 passes. Purify paced the SaberCats with six touchdowns total, three rushing and three receiving, while adding 87 yards receiving.

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Getting out to an early 21-6 lead the SaberCats seemed in control; however, LA outscored San Jose 19-7 to pull within three points at 28-25. Replacing Meyer in the second quarter, the SaberCats continued to pounce with quarterback Nathan Stanley connected with Purify on a 14-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the second half as the lead swelled back to 35-25. Stanley finished the game by completing 13-of-24 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns in relief.

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Regaining possession, the KISS scored on a Joe Clancy 10-yard pass to Dorgan Morgan, his third of the first half. LA Kicker Andre Heidari’s PAT kick was blocked and returned by David Hyland, awarding San Jose two points and a 37-31 halftime advantage. Clancy finished with 261 passing yards and six total touchdowns, but also had two interceptions.

LA opened the second half with possession but Francis Maka was able to recover a fumble forced by Donte Paige-Moss on a run by LA FB Hamani Stevens, as San Jose regained possession. The turnover set up the SaberCats for a nine-play drive, capped off with a six-yard touchdown run by Purify, giving San Jose a 44-31 lead.

In the fourth quarter, San Jose scored on a deep, 43-yard touchdown pas from Stanley to D.J. Stephens, yet the KISS would answer with a 44-yard bomb from Clancy to Morgan, cutting San Jose’s lead to 53-38 with 10:52 remaining in the game. Morgan finished with seven receptions for 145 yards and four touchdowns, passing 2,000 yards receiving for the season as well. Stephens led the SaberCats with 97 yards receiving on five receptions.

The opportunistic SaberCats defense would capitalize when Hyland grabbed an interception for the second straight week, this time taking it back for a 47-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 60-38 with five minutes remaining in the game. Hyland also led the SaberCats with seven tackles, while KISS defensive back Shaine Boyle led all defenders with nine tackles.

In his first start of the season, defensive back Kenny Okoro sealed the victory for San Jose, intercepting a Clancy pass with two minutes remaining. Also making his first start of the season, defensive end Chris McAllister recorded his first sack as a SaberCat on a safety with Maka also credited on the sack of Clancy in the fourth quarter.

The SaberCats roll into the playoffs with home field advantage and will host the first round of the National Conference playoffs at the SAP Center on Friday, August 14th at 7:30 pm PDT.

Offensive Player of the Game: SJ WR Maurice Purify
Defensive Player of the Game: SJ JLB David Hyland
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: SJ WR Maurice Purify
Cutters Catch of the Game: LA WR Donovan Morgan catch to pass 2,000 yards in a season
AFL Highlight of the Game: SJ David Hyland interception return for a touchdown

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

Game Preview: San Jose SaberCats at LA Kiss

Photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE – The San Jose SaberCats (16-1) will hit the road for the regular season finale in an interstate matchup against the LA KISS (4-13) on Saturday, August 8th at 7:00pm PDT. Fans can catch all of the action on ESPN3, the Watch ESPN APP and on radio 1220AM KDOW.

The SaberCats have been on a roll with a five game winning streak, though the only blemish on their record was due to the efforts of the KISS.

In a week 12 matchup back in June, the SaberCats trailed 42-35. San Jose scored on a touchdown pass from Meyer to Gray to tie the game as time expired in regulation. In overtime, the KISS stopped the SaberCats on fourth down, taking over on downs and winning the game on a 16-yard pass from Danny Southwick to DeMarco Sampson.

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Last week, San Jose held off the Arizona Rattlers in a convincing, 56-29 home victory on Fan Appreciation Night. One of the premiere passers in the league, quarterback Erik Meyer orchestrated the attack on offense, which outscored the Rattlers 27-3 in the second half. Meyer threw eight touchdown passes, including three each to receivers Reggie Gray and Maurice Purify.

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Meyer is ranked among the league leaders in passing yards (3,937), touchdowns (91) and has thrown the least amount of interceptions (six). Gray, leads the league with 44 receiving touchdowns (47 total), 158 receptions and is tied for fourth with 1,659 receiving yards.

The defensive unit for San Jose continues to flourish, ranking number one in the Arena Football League surrendering an average of 36.7 points per game. Against the Rattlers, the SaberCats forced two turnovers, totaled three sacks and held Arizona to a season-low 29 points.

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Defensive back Ken Fontenette has already set a franchise record for most tackles in a season and leads the AFL with 146.5 total tackles and is second with 12 interceptions. Roaming the secondary along with the legendary Clevan Thomas and standout rookie Fredrick Obi, the SaberCats have registered 31 interceptions and 80 pass breakups collectively.

In the trenches, San Jose has a league-high 43 sacks, with three players ranked in the top seven. Francis Maka is second in the AFL with 11 sacks, while defensive tackle Jason Stewart has 10 and defensive end Donte Paige-Moss has 9.5, including 1.5 last week against Arizona.

For the KISS, the defense has been a major contributor to the recent success over the past two months. With the addition of Rayshaun Kizer, who leads the team with 66 tackles, 14 pass breakups and five interceptions in nine games, LA has held three of its past four opponents under 40 points.

Attempting to keep its playoff hopes alive, the KISS dropped a heartbreaking loss last week on the road against the Tampa Bay Storm. Trailing 34-31 with 15 seconds remaining, Storm quarterback Jason Boltus connected with T.T. Toliver on a 15-yard touchdown, giving the Storm the edge.

With the win last week over Arizona, San Jose clinched the number one overall seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, including the ArenaBowl.

Game Preview Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Claw Back From A 13-Point Deficit To Defeat Arizona Rattlers 56-29; Clinch Number One Seed In Playoffs

All Photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE – The San Jose SaberCats (16-1) clinched the number one overall seed in the Arena Football League and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, with a triumphant 56-29 victory over the Arizona Rattlers (13-4).

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The showdown featured the previous two AFL Most Valuable Players in quarterbacks Erick Meyer and Nick Davila. Leading the way for the SaberCats, Meyer, the 2013 MVP, completed 73 percent of his passes for 286 yards and eight touchdowns. Meanwhile, the San Jose defense came up huge, allowing just three second half points.

“We didn’t play well the last two games in our mind and we wanted to come out and have a good showing with a lot of energy and they did that tonight,” said Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet.

The Rattlers got on the board first when fullback Mykel Benson finished a six play drive with a three-yard touchdown run. San Jose would answer on a scoring drive of its own, as Reggie Gray caught a seven-yard pass and dove into the end zone, evening the score at 7-7.

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Arizona would answer in the second quarter with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Nick Davila to Rod Windsor and another score on a 20-yard pass to Kerry Reed, as the Rattlers led 20-7.
With the history of these two rivals, the back-and-forth pendulum swung, as the SaberCats cut into the Rattlers’ lead with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Meyer to Maurice Purify. The touchdown was the first for Purify as a SaberCat, who spent the past three seasons with Arizona, and cut the lead to 20-14.

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The momentum carried over for the SaberCats after Davila fumbled the snap and Donte Paige-Moss recovered the ball, giving San Jose possession. The SaberCats would capitalize with a 10-yard touchdown reception by Odie Armstrong to tie the game 20-20 with just under a minute remaining in the first half.

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Arizona followed the 14 points scored by San Jose with a 10-yard touchdown reception by Windsor; however, the PAT kick would be blocked by Francis Maka and scooped up by Rodney Fritz, who returned the kick, awarding the SaberCats two points and cut the lead to 26-22. Following the stellar special teams play, San Jose scored on a four-yard pass from Meyer to Purify, his second of the game, as the SaberCats held their first lead of the game at 29-26 to end the first half.

After recovering the second half kickoff from a ball off of the net, the Rattlers tied the game 29-29 with a 27-yard field goal by Fabrizio Scaccia. The SaberCats would answer as Gray would get open in the back of the end zone for the 16-yard touchdown reception, giving San Jose a 35-29 edge.

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The SaberCats’ number one ranked defense continued to stifle the Rattlers. Following an interception by David Hyland, San Jose capitalized on the turnover when Purify grabbed the pass from Meyer, broke a tackle and took off for a 34-yard touchdown, as the SaberCats lead swelled to 42-29 with 1:38 remaining in the third quarter. Purify finished with 10 receptions for 108 yards and three touchdowns.

“There is never a doubt in anyone’s mind no matter what the score,” said Meyer. “We always know that there is going to be a play made and the momentum will switch in our favor eventually.”

Not allowing the Rattlers to get into a rhythm offensively, Donte Paige-Moss and Francis Maka teamed up for back-to-back sacks to force a 4th and 19, culminating in an incomplete pass by Davila and turnover on downs. Leading the AFL in touchdown receptions, Gray would find a soft spot in the end zone and haul in his third touchdown of the game, extending the SaberCats lead to 49-29.
With a routine 12-yard reception in the second quarter, Gray broke Jason Willis’s franchise record for most receiving yards in a season (1,606) set in 2013. Gray, who hauled in 11 receptions for 88 yards and three touchdowns, is now the SaberCats all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, touchdown receptions and scoring in a season.

Veteran SaberCat Clevan Thomas recorded two tackles, en route to becoming the ninth player in Arena Football League history with 600 or more career tackles.

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“They were in tuned with each other and they played well tonight,” said Arbet. “The first goal is to win your division, second goal is home field advantage and from there it’s to get to that game.”

The SaberCats will hit the road to take on the LA KISS on Saturday, August 8th in the regular season finale.

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Offensive Player of the Game: QB Erik Meyer
Defensive Player of the Game: LB David Hyland
J Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: WR Maurice Purify
Cutters Catch of the Game: WR Reggie Gray 12-yard record setting catch
AFL Highlight of the Week: WR Maurice Purify 34-yard TD

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

Game Preview: San Jose SaberCats vs Arizona Rattlers Friday July 31st 7:30 PDT

All Photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE, CA. – The San Jose SaberCats (15-1) will host National Conference rivals, the Arizona Rattlers (13-3) on Friday, July 31st; kickoff is set for 7:30pm PDT and the game will be on CBS Sports Network as well as 1220AM KDOW.

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With a win, San Jose would clinch the top seed in the National Conference, giving them home field advantage in the opening round and conference championship game. The showdown will feature the past two Arena Football League Most Valuable Players in quarterbacks Erik Meyer and Nick Davila.

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In their last game, the SaberCats erased a 20-point deficit to comeback for a wild, 55-49 overtime victory over the Portland Thunder. Meyer paved the way, completing 68-percent of his passes, adding eight touchdowns and the go ahead score to receiver Ben Nelson. Meyer’s 83 touchdowns rank fifth in the AFL and are the second most in a season for his career.

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In the win over the Thunder, receiver Reggie Gray broke the SaberCats franchise record for receptions and touchdowns in a single season. Gray leads the league with 44 touchdowns (41 receiving) and 147 receptions, propelling the SaberCats offense to an average of 59.1 points per game, trailing the Philadelphia Soul by six points (59.4) for the top mark in the AFL.

Meanwhile, The Rattlers held off a second half rally by the LA KISS, en route to a 68-55 victory on Sunday. Davila, who missed the first matchup earlier this season in Arizona, has thrown seven or more touchdowns in each of the past three games. The reigning league MVP has 79 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games this season.

Davila’s favorite target Rod Windsor, earned Week 16 AFL MVP honors with 113 receiving yards and four touchdowns against the Las Vegas Outlaws and is carrying a streak of 25 consecutive games with a touchdown. The fifth year receiver has 126 receptions 1,611 yards and 34 touchdowns, averaging 115.1 receiving yards per game this season.

After being activated last week, fellow receiver Chase Deadder grabbed a game-high four touchdown receptions, including three in the fourth quarter to hold off the KISS. Deadder increased his total to 14 receiving touchdowns on the season and along with Kerry Reed, who has 23 touchdowns, the Rattlers rank third in scoring offense (56.7 points per game).

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Though the Rattlers have a potent offense, the SaberCats’ defense has stifled their opponents. Through 16 games, San Jose has surrendered a league-low 37.2 points per game and have held six of their opponents under 30 points. San Jose is led by standout defensive back Ken Fontenette, whose 138.5 tackles is a new franchise single-season record and leads the AFL.

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The veteran duo of Francis Maka and Jason Stewart has propelled the SaberCats to a league-high 40 sacks this season. Maka is second in the AFL with 10.5 sacks and is currently San Jose’s all-time franchise sacks leader. Stewart, the 2014 AFL Defensive Player of the Year, has 10 sacks and a total of 20.5 tackles to go along with a forced fumble and recovery. With the combination of ball hawks in the secondary and elite pass rushers, the SaberCats defense will be in a battle against the top scoring offense they have faced this season.

Similarly, the Rattlers have a tremendous defensive back and pair of pass rushers sure to disrupt the flow of any offense. Jeremy Kellem leads the team with 87.5 tackles and leads the AFL with 13 interceptions and 31 pass breakups.

Meanwhile, Tyre Glasper has been a force for Arizona’s pass rush. In his fifth season with the Rattlers, Glasper has set a career-high with 13 tackles for a loss and his 10.5 sacks are tied with Maka for second in the league. Glasper also had his first interception of the season against the KISS this past week. Defensive end Michael McAdoo is second on team with nine sacks in just 12 games, as the Rattlers rank second in scoring defense, giving up an average of 45.7 points per game.

With two games left in the regular season, San Jose is on the verge of matching the 2014 Cleveland Gladiator’s record mark of 17-1 and clinching the top seed with a win over the three-time defending ArenaBowl Champions.

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Game Preview: San Jose SaberCats (13-1) vs New Orleans Voodoo (2-11)

July 8, 2015 – 11:59am

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – The San Jose SaberCats (13-1) will host the New Orleans VooDoo (2-11) at the SAP Center on Friday, July 10th. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN2 as well as 1220AM KDOW.

Playing the past two games on the road against the Las Vegas Outlaws and Spokane Shock, the SaberCats have outscored their opponents 125-58. On the season, San Jose has outscored its competition 834-511, resulting in a 23.1 average margin of victory, the best in the Arena Football League.

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In his first game at Spokane’s Veterans Memorial Arena as a member of the SaberCats, quarterback Erik Meyer completed 76.5-percent of his passes, resulting in 277 yards and seven touchdowns, also adding another score on the ground. The 2013 AFL Most Valuable Player has thrown for 68 touchdowns, completed 65.3-percent of his passes and has only thrown six interceptions on 398 passing attempts. Meyer has thrown a touchdown pass to ten different receivers this season, with Reggie Gray leading the way.

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Ranking second in the league with 33 touchdown receptions, Gray is tied with Philadelphia Soul receiver Marco Thomas for first in the AFL with 124 receptions and is fourth with 1,349 yards. “Big Play” Reggie Gray has also returned three kickoffs for a touchdown and his 216 points scored is the most in the league. With Meyer and Gray pacing the offense, San Jose leads the AFL, scoring an averaging of 59.6 points per game.

Meanwhile, the VooDoo offense is led by second year quarterback Adam Kennedy. Making nine appearances this season, Kennedy has completed 60.8-percent of his passes for 28 touchdowns, while also leading New Orleans in rushing. Chris Duvalt has been the number one weapon for the Voodoo, totaling 17 touchdowns on 951 receiving yards.

After a stellar career with the Alabama Hammers of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL), receiver Charles McClain has made an immediate impact for New Orleans. In only three games, McClain is averaging 87.7 receiving yards per game and has five touchdowns, emerging as one of Kennedy’s favorite targets.

In order to stop the VooDoo’s attack, the SaberCats will need to rely on their defensive front to create havoc. Earning Second Team All-Arena honors last season, Francis Maka leads the team with 10.5 tackles for a loss and has already tied his sack total from last year (9.5) in four fewer games played and is ranked second in the league. Right behind Maka is defensive tackle Jason Stewart with 8.0 sacks on the season, tying him for fourth in the AFL. Donte Paige-Moss (7.5) and Luis Vasquez (6.0) also rank in the top ten in sacks, with San Jose amassing a league-high 37 sacks.

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While the defensive front has been a disruptive force, it has been the SaberCats’ secondary that has stifled their opponents passing attacks. Defensive back Ken Fontenette has put together one of the best seasons statistically in his career. Fontenette leads the AFL with 104.0 total tackles and 23 pass breakups, adding ten interceptions.

Leading the secondary with Fontenette is veteran Clevan Thomas. Ranking second in the league all- time in interceptions, Thomas has added four interceptions and is ranked fourth on the team with 34.5 tackles. At the linebacker position, David Hyland is second on the team with 76.5 total tackles, nine pass breakups and has capitalized on loose balls, totaling five fumble recoveries. The SaberCats’ defense has been dominant, surrendering a league-low 36.5 points per game.

The last matchup between these two squads was in 2013, where the SaberCats defeated the VooDoo 57-38 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Game Preview Courtesy to the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

Game Preview: San Jose SaberCats vs. Spokane Shock

ALL photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE, CALIF.The National Conference leading San Jose SaberCats (12-1) will play on the road for the second straight week to take on the Spokane Shock (4-8) on Friday, June 26, with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. PDT.

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The Pacific Division rivals have squared off twice this season, with San Jose outscoring Spokane by a combined score of 138-54. The third time around will feature quarterback Erik Meyer’s first game at Spokane Veteran’s Memorial Arena as a SaberCat. Meyer, who spent the first five seasons of his career with the Shock, winning the 2013 Arena Football League Most Valuable Player award, has thrown for 61 touchdowns and ranks in the top-five of nearly every passing category this season.

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While San Jose possesses a former league MVP, the starting receivers have been the catalyst for the offense. Setting the pace is Reggie Gray, whose 110 receptions, 1,195 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns leads the SaberCats and is also among the top-five in the league.

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Additionally, Adron Tennell has been critical to the success of the offensive attack. Tennell, who won the 2013 AFL Receiver of the Year as a member of the Shock, is second on the team with 18 touchdowns and has added 586 receiving yards, providing the ability to move the chains as well as be a threat in the red zone.

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A versatile playmaker, Darius Reynolds has excelled as a receiver, on special teams and occasionally, filling in defensively. Reynolds has totaled 13 touchdowns, hauling in nine touchdown receptions adding four on the ground, while notching 12 tackles this season. Averaging 59.4 points per game, the SaberCats’ potent offense remains the best in the league.

Offensively, Spokane has turned to Carson Coffman as the starter under center. Coffman led the Shock to a 69-54 victory over the Portland Thunder, completing 20-of-32 passes for 328 yards and a season-high nine touchdowns.

Last month, Spokane added receiver Jabin Sambrano to go along with Anthony Amos and Nick Truesdell. Sambrano, who has spent the past three seasons in the National Football League, most recently with the Atlanta Falcons, led the Shock last week with eight receptions and 125 yards, adding two touchdowns.

Similarly, Truesdell is coming off his best performance of the season last week against the Thunder. Entering the matchup, Truesdell (6’7” 240) had 12 touchdowns through nine games, but in a breakout performance, he added five touchdowns on seven receptions and 124 yards. Meanwhile, Amos currently leads the team among active players with 70 receptions for 758 yards.

Defensively, the SaberCats are led statistically, by Ken Fontenette, Jason Stewart and Francis Maka. Fontenette has had a nose for seeking out the football, leading the league with 98.5 tackles and is second in the league with 10 interceptions. Meanwhile, Maka ranks third in the AFL with 8 sacks, two safeties and has added 17 tackles his season. The 2014 Defensive Player of the Year, Jason Stewart has been a menace in the middle of the SaberCats’ pass rush. Stewart is right behind Maka with 7.5 sacks and has 17.5 tackles with eight going for a loss. The crushing San Jose defense has allowed just 37.2 points per game, to lead the AFL, though they will be tested against a Shock offense that is coming off a 69 point outing last week.

San Jose’s defense has a league-high 24 interceptions and has only surrendered 48 passing touchdowns, the fewest in the Arena Football League by a margin of 11.

The Pacific Division matchup can be seen live on ESPN3, the Watch ESPN app or on radio 1220AM KDOW.

Game Preview Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Ride Second Half Surge to Beat Las Vegas Outlaws 63-31

All photos by Shawn Jonas

LAS VEGAS, NEV. – The San Jose SaberCats (12-1) scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to pull away from the Las Vegas Outlaws (4-8), securing a 63-31 road victory on Father’s Day.

The Outlaw’s got out to an early lead, scoring on a three-yard touchdown pass from J.J. Raterink to Will Wright. After the SaberCats evened the score at 7-7 on an Erik Meyer 10-yard touchdown pass to Adron Tennell, Gerald Young returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, as Las Vegas found itself up 14-7 in the first quarter.

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As they have done the entire season, the resilient SaberCats’ defense forced the necessary stops to provide the offense with opportunities. San Jose took its first lead of the game at 21-14, with a 15- yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Darius Reynolds in the second quarter. The Outlaws added a 35- yard field goal at the end of the first half, cutting the SaberCats’ lead, 21-17. Meyer completed 20-of- 28 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, adding another on the ground.

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Receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, San Jose relied on Tennell and Reggie Gray to matriculate down the field, setting up Meyer for the one-yard quarterback sneak, finding pay dirt as the lead swelled to 28-17. Gray, the leading receiver for the SaberCats this season, hauled in a team- high eight receptions for 67 yards; while Tennell added five receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Making his second appearance of the season, rookie defensive back Fred Obi intercepted a Raterink pass in the third quarter, returning it down to the two yard line. The turnover set up Reynolds for a two-yard rush, spinning off the pile and running in the touchdown, extending the SaberCats lead to 35-17. Darius Reynolds finished with four receptions for 56 yards and three total touchdowns (two rushing).

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One of the premier pass rushers in the league and a San Jose native, Francis Maka found himself unabated to Raterink on several instances, finishing with two sacks. The ability to get pressure on the quarterback, while the secondary tightens its coverage is referred to by the SaberCats team as “pressure picks, coverage sacks”. This combination of effective defense has kept San Jose among the leader in the Arena Football League in defensive scoring.

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Odie Armstrong had 3 Touchdowns for the SaberCats

Jumping the receiver’s route, Obi grabbed his second interception of the game, returning this one for a 20-yard touchdown to give San Jose a commanding 56-17 lead at the 9:02 mark in the fourth quarter. Obi finished with a team-high eight total tackles and had the first two interceptions of his AFL career.

Entering the game in relief of Raterink, who threw three interceptions, Dennis Havrilla rushed for 30 yards on his first possession, capping off the fourth quarter drive with a seven yard touchdown run, cutting into the SaberCats 56-24 lead. Additionally, Young also led the team in receiving with six receptions for 95 yards and added a one yard touchdown run in the final minute.

Offensive Player of the Game: SJ WR Darius Reynolds

Defensive Player of the Game: SJ DB Fred Obi
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: LV WR Gerald Young
Cutters Catch of the Game: SJ WR Darius Reynolds 15 yard touchdown reception 2nd Quarter Highlight of the Game: SJ DB Fred Obi Interception for a touchdown 4th Quarte

The SaberCats have a quick turnaround, as they will travel to take on Pacific Division rival the Spokane Shock Friday, June 26th with a 7:00 p.m. PDT kickoff. The game can be seen live on ESPN3 or the Watch ESPN app or can be heard on the radio on 1220AM KDOW.

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations