Tag Archives: National Conference Championship

San Jose SaberCats Advance to Arena Bowl XXVII With 70-67 Win Over The Arizona Rattlers

All Photo by Shawn Jonas

STOCKTON, CA. – The no.1 seed San Jose SaberCats advanced to their fifth Arena Bowl in team history by defeating the number two seed Arizona Ratters, 70-67 at the Stockton Arena in the National Conference Championship Game.

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Trailing 60-55 with less than two minutes remaining, the SaberCats scored on a nine-yard pass from Quarterback Erik Meyer to Rich Ranglin; converting the two-point conversion, to give the SaberCats a 63-60 lead. Arizona recovered the ensuing onside kick and regained the lead, 67-63 on an eight-yard pass from Nick Davila to Kerry Reed.

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With 20 seconds remaining, the SaberCats took over for one final possession with a spot in Arena Bowl XXVIII on the line. Reggie Gray, the Arena Football League leader in touchdowns and receptions this season, hauled in a six-yard pass from Meyer and reached out to break into the end zone.

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Gray’s second touchdown of the game gave the SaberCats a 67-70 lead with just eight seconds left. Arizona attempted a last second field goal but the kick from Alex Zendajas fell short, as Gray grabbed the kick in front of the nets, securing the win.

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“In a game like this they never wavered and continued to fight and they got it done,” said Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet, who celebrated the win in his hometown.

The past three seasons have ended for the SaberCats with a playoff loss to the Rattlers; however, the 2015 SaberCats debunked that streak, reaching the Arena Bowl for the first time since 2008 and sweeping the three-game series with the Rattlers this season.

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In a back-and-forth duel, the top two seeds in the National Conference traded scoring drives on each of their first six possessions. On their opening drive, The Rattlers got on the
board with a 14-yard touchdown from Davila to Rod Windsor.

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Answering in true championship fashion, the SaberCats evened the score at 7-7, when receiver Darius Reynolds got behind the defense and Meyer found him for the 42-yard touchdown bomb. Meyer completed touchdown passes to three different receivers in the first half, including two with Reynolds, who finished with three receptions for 104 yards and three touchdowns.

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“Darius is very athletic and he was healthy this week so we played him, said Arbet. “He has speed, size and can jump too.”

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Ranglin grabbed two touchdown receptions fourth quarter; while Meyer threw for 351 yards and nine touchdowns to five different receivers.Against his former team, Maurice Purify led all SaberCats with nine receptions for 150 yards, adding a 24-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Leading the Rattlers with 39 touchdowns receptions in the regular season, Windsor hauled in four touchdowns in the first half, finishing with eight receptions for 104 yards and four touchdowns.

Opening the second half, San Jose took its first lead of the game at 41-35, when Reynolds added a 41-yard touchdown as he broke a tackle, got a block downfield and pulled away for the score. The SaberCats would miss the ensuing PAT. The Rattlers equalized with a fourth down touchdown reception by Chase Deadder, his first of the game. On the PAT, Donte Paige-Moss blocked Alex Zendejas kick, keeping the score even at 41-41.

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After trading touchdown drives in the beginning of the fourth quarter, the SaberCats number one ranked scoring defense forced a fourth down turnover with 8:30 remaining in the game. Taking over on offense, The SaberCats would be stopped with an interception by Arkieth Brown, leading to a 20-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Deadder, giving Arizona a 54-48 lead after a missed PAT. Davila completed 22-of-37 passes for 260 yards and eight touchdowns.

The SaberCats will host the winner of the American Conference Championship between the Jacksonville Sharks and Philadelphia Soul in Arena Bowl XXVIII on Saturday, August 29th at 4pm PDT on ESPN and 1220AM KDOW.

Offensive Player of the Game: Erik Meyer
Defensive Player of the Game: Jeremy Kellem
J Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Rod Windsor
AFL Highlight of the Game: Darius Reynolds 41-yard TD 3rd QT
Cutters Catch of the Game: Darius Reynolds 21-yard TD 2nd QT

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

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

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 to Potentially Host National Conference Championship at Stockton Arena

SAN JOSE – With a win in the opening round of the playoffs against the Portland Thunder this Friday, August 14th, the San Jose SaberCats will host the National Conference Championship at the SMG Stockton Arena against either the Spokane Shock or Arizona Rattlers. Kickoff time still TBD.

“With the unavailability of the SAP Center, we are excited to bring football back to the great fans of the Stockton area,” said Owner David Fry.

The SMG Stockton Arena is located on 248 W. Fremont St. Stockton, CA 95203

As an appreciation to our great fans, we will be providing a FREE shuttle bus to the Stockton Arena from the Fry’s Home Office at 550 E Brokaw Rd. San Jose, CA 95112.

The shuttle will drop off fans at the Stockton Arena where a Silver Bullet Bar Street Rally will be held with live music to kick off the festivities one hour before the doors open.

Season Ticket Holders will have first priority on seat location to purchase tickets on Saturday, August 15th from 10am-4pm (contingent on the win this Friday). Call 408-673-3400 to request your ticket order or visit http://thesanjosesabercats.com/conference-championship/. We will stop taking bus reservations on Thursday, August 20th at 5:00pm. You must have your ticket in hand to get on the bus.

Tickets will be made available to the public on Ticketmaster, Monday, August 17th beginning at noon.

Ticket prices will range as followed:

1st Row Sideline: $100 per
2nd Row Sideline: $75 per
3rd Row Sideline: $50 per
All other Sideline: $25 per
All End zone Seats: $10 per

With a win in the National Conference Championship game, the SaberCats will host Arena Bowl XVIII on Monday, August 31st at the SAP Center.

Official times and more information will be released once finalized.

Press Release Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations