Tag Archives: Odie Armstrong

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

Game Preview: San Jose SaberCats vs Las Vegas Outlaws

Photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – The San Jose SaberCats (11-1) head to Sin City, to take on the Las Vegas Outlaws (4-7) for a National Conference game on Father’s Day Sunday, June 21 at 2PM PDT.

Already clinching the Pacific Division championship, San Jose will be battling down the stretch for the best record in the AFL for the potential opportunity to host the ArenaBowl. Currently, the SaberCats have a full game lead over the Philadelphia Soul (10-2) for the top mark.

“There are a lot of things to correct from last week,” said Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet. “We’ll go back, look at the film and find ways to improve.”

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Leading the SaberCats offense, receiver Reggie Gray reached triple-digit receptions with 102 for the fourth time in his career, going for 1,128 yards and “Big Play’s” 29 touchdown receptions leads all in the AFL. Gray will likely draw the attention of Las Vegas’ defensive backs, Tanner Varner or Eddie Moten. Varner is a versatile athlete and a veteran leader on the defense, ranking at the top in total tackles with 69 on the season.

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Quarterback Erik Meyer ranks among the AFL best, completing 63.7-percent of his passes and is averaging 240.5 yards per game. Meyer has been able to spread the ball around to his teammates, already throwing for 59 touchdowns to 10 different receivers this season. After putting up a season-high 49 rushing yards last week, Meyer also became the team’s leading rusher with 106, eclipsing the 100-yard mark along with fullback Odie Armstrong (101).

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Paired with Varner, Moten, is coming off his best performance of the season last week against the Spokane Shock. Moten, a nine year veteran and former SaberCat, had two interceptions, returning one for a 12-yard touchdown in the 62-56 victory over the Shock. A starting defensive lineman for San Jose last year, Terrance Carter has relished in the same role in Las Vegas. Carter is tied with Mike Lewis for a team high five sacks this season, with both registering one last week.

The leading man offensively for Las Vegas has been receiver Jomo Wilson. This season, Wilson has 795 receiving yards and 19 of his 63 receptions have gone for touchdowns. In last week’s win, Wilson grabbed five receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns, pacing the offense. Wilson and teammate Tysson Poots have both had recent success making plays for the Las Vegas offense, but they will be running into a SaberCats’ defense led by the AFL leader in tackles and interceptions, Ken Fontenette.

The SaberCats’ defense has allowed just 37.8 points per game this season, ranking them first in the AFL. San Jose also leads the league in interceptions (21) and sacks (30) but most notably, the SaberCats’ defense is holding teams to a 24-percent fourth down conversion rate. While the offense is converting on 48-percent of its fourth downs, the ability for San Jose to force turnover on downs by its defense, specifically in the red zone, has assisted in the team’s success thus far.

The previous matchup between these two teams was a 61-28 victory by the SaberCats at home in May, while the last meeting in Sin City was the season opener back in March. In that game, from the Thomas and Mack Center, San Jose jumped out to an early 28-0 lead and eventually went on to win 59-41, in the Outlaw’s AFL debut. This will be the third and final installment for the regular season between the SaberCats and Outlaws.

Game Preview Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Ground Spokane Shock 55-26;11th Straight Win, Remain Undefeated

All photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE, Calif.– The San Jose SaberCats (11-0) remain unbeaten, as they defeated visiting Pacific Division foe, the Spokane Shock (3-7), 55-26 on Friday night.

“The game tonight was a hard fought game,” said Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet. “They hung in there, continued to grind and got it done.”

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The SaberCats got off to a quick start, taking two plays to score with quarterback Erik Meyer running into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown to give San Jose an early 7-0 lead. Meyer completed 27-of-39 passes for 260 yards and five touchdowns, while adding two more scores on the ground. With great field position set up by a 39-yard kickoff return from Anthony Amos, the Shock capped its opening drive off with a quarterback run of its own, as Warren Smith snuck in for the 1-yard touchdown. Meyer completed 27-of-39 passes for 260 yards and five touchdowns, while adding two more scores on the ground.

“If the coverage tightens up a little bit, (Erik) is able to move around and then we go through the scrambling drill,” said receiver Reggie Gray. “It goes back to pop warner, once the quarterback is moving around; forget what is going on, just get open.”

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Striking again, San Jose answered with a 13-yard pass from Meyer to Gray, as the SaberCats held a 14-6 edge in the first quarter. Gray, the AFL Week 9 Most Valuable Player, finished with 10 receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns to lead the SaberCats.

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Late in the first half, Jeremy Kelley hauled in a 7-yard touchdown reception from Meyer, the first of his AFL career, giving San Jose a 28-13 advantage. Kelley added a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, finishing with three receptions for 17 yards and two touchdowns.

Driving down to the seven yard line, Spokane had an opportunity to score on the last play of the first half, but Ken Fontenette broke up a pass from Smith and the 28-13 mark would stand at halftime. Fontenette, the AFL Week 10 MVP, led all defenders with 15 tackles and is currently leading the AFL in total tackles.

“(Ken) is smart, he’s competitive every day and every down,” said Arbet. “He is just a competitive guy and it carries over to the football field and he’s playing really well right now.”

Spokane was without its leading pass rusher, James Ruffin, on its defensive front; however, it was the secondary for the Shock that was able to play great coverage on the SaberCats’ receivers.
Still, the resilient SaberCats leaned on their ferocious defense to hold an advantage throughout the game. Relying on its depth, San Jose at one point even used receiver Darius Reynolds at the linebacker spot for a brief stint.

“The defense played well,” said Arbet. “We played a lot of different guys on defense and when they got in there, they stepped up and did what they had to do.”

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Leading the way for the Shock was receiver Anthony Amos, who hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Smith in the second quarter, finishing with a team-high 11 receptions for 121 yards and the score. In his second start against the SaberCats’ top-ranked defense, Smith completed 23-of-41 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns through the air (one on the ground).

Falling over the boards in the corner of the end zone, Spokane receiver Nick Truesdell used his entire six-foot-seven-inch frame to haul in a 4-yard touchdown reception, as Spokane minimized the San Jose lead to 35-20 with 13:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. Coming off a four touchdown performance against the Arizona Rattlers last week, Truesdell was limited against San Jose’s prolific secondary, grabbing just five receptions for 32 yards and one touchdown.

“Anytime you can hold a team under 40 points in arena football, it’s almost unheard of,” said Fontenette. “For us to continue to do that really shows where we are going.”

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The SaberCats answered, with an 18-yard pass from Meyer to Gray, setting up Odie Armstrong for a 2-yard touchdown run, as San Jose pulled ahead 42-20. After trading touchdowns, the Shock held possession, trailing 49-26 with four minutes remaining, but the drive was halted when Mike Williams intercepted a Smith pass in the end zone, ultimately sealing the victory for the SaberCats.

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Mike Williams started in the box, then at defensive back and at the end, he got an interception to close the game out,” said Arbet.

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For San Jose, its next game will be at home in the SAP Center, against the Los Angeles Kiss on Saturday, June 13th at 7:30PM PDT.

Offensive Player of the Game: WR Reggie Gray
Defensive Player of the Game: DB Ken Fontenette
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: WR Reggie Gray
Cutters Catch of the Game: SPO WR Jabin Sambrano 4th QT TD
Highlight of the Game: FB Odie Armstrong catch and hurdle defender.

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats

San Jose SaberCats Quiets Portland Thunder 61-42; Improve To AFL Leading 10-0

All Photos By Shawn Jonas

Portland, OR. – The San Jose SaberCats (10-0, 3-0) held off the Portland Thunder (3-6, 1-2) 61-42, on Saturday afternoon at the Moda Center.

In the second of three meetings this season for the Pacific Division rivals, the SaberCats got off to a slow start, but took over the reins with a momentum shifting second quarter, propelling them to victory and remaining unbeaten.

It did not start well for San Jose, after they fumbled the opening kickoff, allowing a safety; Portland drove down the field and scored on a Jared Perry touchdown reception, jumping out to an early 9-0 lead.

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The SaberCats responded though, getting on the board with an Odie Armstrong bruising 4-yard touchdown run, to cut the Thunder lead to 9-6. Armstrong added another touchdown in the final minute, the 96th of his career, passing Bo Kelly for third most in AFL history.
On the ensuing kickoff, David Hyland stripped Duane Brooks and defensive back Clevan Thomas dove on the ball for the recovery.

Thomas also had an interception in the first half and San Jose capitalized on the turnover with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Reggie Gray, taking a 13-9 lead.

Erik Meyer, last week’s AFL Offensive Player of the Week, had another stellar performance, completing 31-of-40 passes for 264 yards and seven touchdowns.

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Following a Kyle Rowley 1-yard touchdown run for the Thunder, the SaberCats scored 20 unanswered points on Adron Tennell and Reggie Gray touchdown receptions, leading 33-15 at halftime. Earning AFL Most Valuable Player of Week 9, Gray had 15 receptions for 137 yards and five touchdowns, matching his mark of five touchdowns from last week’s game against the Cleveland Gladiators.

Trailing 40-15 in the third quarter, Portland scored on a kickoff return for a touchdown by Duane Brooks, who made several SaberCats miss en route to the end zone. Brooks added another kick return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, bringing his total to four on the season.

Leading all defenders with nine tackles on the night, Ken Fontenette added two second half interceptions in the end zone, now with nine on the season to lead the AFL. Acquired from the Jacksonville Sharks earlier this week, Portland quarterback Alex Carter took over for Rowley following the interception in the third quarter and connected with Perry on a deep, 39-yard touchdown, cutting the San Jose lead to 40-29. Rowley struggled to find consistency, completing 9-of-21 passes for 75 yards before Carter took over. After completing his first two passes in a Thunder uniform, Carter finished strong, completing 5-of-8 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns.

The Thunder receiving duo of Jared Perry and V’Keon Lacey continues to be a bright spot this season. Lacey led the Thunder with five receptions for 59 yards and his one touchdown brought his season total to 14. Meanwhile, Perry hauled in four receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns, including a 39-yard touchdown from Carter.

For San Jose, receiver Adron Tennell had his third straight multi-touchdown game. The 2013 AFL Receiver of the Year hauled in eight receptions for 57 yards and added two touchdowns. Making his first appearance of the season, SaberCats’ receiver Jeremy Kelley added eight receptions for 70 yards.

The SaberCats defense came into the game leading the AFL, surrendering only 37.4 points per game and with two special teams’ touchdowns for the Thunder; the defense held the Thunder offense to only 28 points scored, continuing to dominate.

San Jose will be at home at the SAP Center on Friday, June 5th to take on its other Pacific Division foe, the Spokane Shock; kickoff is at 7:30PM PDT.

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Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose Saber Cats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats (9-0) vs. Portland Thunder (3-5) Game Preview 5/30 3:00 PM Pacific Time

San Jose, Calif.- The San Jose SaberCats (9-0, 2-0) will travel to take on the Portland Thunder (3-5, 1-1) at the Moda Center on Saturday, May 30th.

In a rematch from week five, where the SaberCats defeated the Thunder 64-45 at home, the Pacific Division rivals will meet for the second of three regular season games. The SaberCats are reeling, after a 70-58 comeback victory over the Cleveland Gladiators last week, to remain unbeaten. On the contrary, Portland has lost three of its last four games, including a 69-43 defeat at the hands of the Orlando Predators last week, after starting the season 2-1.

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After missing two games, SaberCats’ quarterback Erik Meyer returned to the starting lineup and put on a gem against the Gladiators. Meyer completed 71.4-percent of his passes for 406 yards and set a season-high with nine touchdowns, leading San Jose to a second half comeback win. Meyer has been stellar in his first season with San Jose and despite missing two games; he is still ranked in the top five statistically among quarterbacks in the league. Meyer has been aided by some of the best receivers, who have propelled the SaberCats to the top of the league in scoring (61.2 points per game).

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Reggie Gray, the team’s leading receiver is coming off of a season-high performance in the win last week, over the Gladiators. “Big Play” had 14 receptions for 201 yards and five touchdowns to lead all receivers in the game. This season Gray has 767 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns, while also making a tremendous impact on special teams with three kick returns for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Adron Tennell has also been a focal point for the offense. With his already established rapport with Meyer from their years as teammates with the Spokane Shock, Tennell has 15 touchdowns in eight games, including five in the past two weeks.

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Portland’s defense is led by the young defensive back duo of Okechu Okoroha and Osagie Odiase is ranked first and second on the team in total tackles. Odiase, a rookie out of Sacramento State, has 39.0 tackles as well as 10 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Alongside him, Okoroha has also recovered two fumbles and has 29.0 total tackles. The secondary of Portland will have its hands full with the full array of talent San Jose has at receiver.

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Ranking first in the league in almost every defensive category, the SaberCats stout defense is led by defensive back Ken Fontenette. Fontenette leads the AFL with seven interceptions, including three against the Spokane Sock in week eight. He is also tied with teammate David Hyland with 63.5 total tackles to lead the league. As a unit, the four man rotation of the San Jose defensive line, along with linebacker Francis Maka, has totaled 25 sacks to lead the AFL. Luis Vasquez, Jason Stewart, Donte Paige-Moss and Rodney Fritz all have four or more sacks, while Maka is second in the AFL with six. The defensive unit for the SaberCats has been a menace for opposing offensive lines and their ability to get pressure on the quarterback has allowed the secondary to capitalize on turnovers. Working as a cohesive unit, the SaberCats defense will look to remain the best in the league under the guidance of defensive coordinator Cedric Walker.

Portland’s leading receiver V’Keon Lacey has had six touchdowns over the past two weeks and 13 total on the season. With Jamar Howard out, Jared Perry and Duane Brooks have stepped up in the other receiving roles for the Thunder. Perry, the 2011 AFL Rookie of the Year, has totaled 322 yards and seven touchdowns in four games this season. Meanwhile, Brooks is coming off a his best performance of the season last week against the Orlando Predators, where he led the Thunder with 12 receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Similar to the matchup against the Cleveland Gladiators last week, the SaberCats will have a trio of receivers to keep tabs on in the secondary.

Portland quarterback Kyle Rowley has had some high and low spots this season; while Darron Thomas, the former Oregon Duck, has started the past couple of weeks. Thomas went out with an injury in last week’s game against Orlando and it is still uncertain who will start under center for Portland. Regardless of who is taking the snaps, they will be tasked with facing the league’s top ranked defensive unit.

This Pacific Division game will also feature two of the top head coaches as well. SaberCats Head Coach Darren Arbet is ranked second all-time in regular season wins (161), while Thunder Head Coach Mike Hohensee ranks third (156).

The SaberCats are 4-0 all-time in games against the Thunder and with a win Saturday; they could pull ahead by 6.5 games in the Pacific Division.

The game can be found on ESPN3 or by radio on 1220AM KDOW with David Lewis and Ben Nelson on the call.

 

The San Jose SaberCats Remain Unbeaten Take Down The Jacksonville Sharks 68-48

April 17, 2015 8:13 PM PT

Courtesy Of The SaberCats Media Relations

Jacksonville, Florida – The San Jose SaberCats (4-0) remained undefeated after taking down the Jacksonville Sharks (0-4) 68-48, Friday at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.
AFL All-Time leading rusher, fullback Derrick Ross bulldozed his way into the end zone on the first drive to give the Sharks an early 7-0 lead. Ross, who was acquired for the Philadelphia Soul this off-season, continued to be focal point for the offense. He finished with 11 rushes for 35 yards and a season-high four touchdowns. Ross continues to be the go-to player within the five yard line of the red zone for Jacksonville. On the night, he also eclipsed a milestone with his 150th rushing touchdown for his AFL career.

Continuing his impact play, jack linebacker David Hyland snuffed out a pass play and picked off the Tommy Grady pass at the Jacksonville seven yard line, his second interception of the season. Hyland continues to excess at the jack linebacker spot for San Jose and led the team in tackles with 14. Reggie Gray was able to extend the San Jose lead to 14-7, after hauling in a five yard touchdown reception. As the SaberCats leading receiver this season, “Big Play” Reggie Gray finished with nine receptions for 80 yards and three touchdowns.

As the Arena Football League’s leading receiver, Anthony “Tiger” Jones demonstrated his abilities early an often. Jones finished with seven receptions for 100 yards, but was unable to add to his league-high 10 receiving touchdowns.

SaberCats quarterback Erik Meyer threw for a season –high eight touchdowns, completing 19-of-30 completions for 246 yards.

Odie Armstrong, an avid Madden video gamer, pressed the B-button on the Xbox (O on the PlayStation) and spun into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown run, to give San Jose a 21-7 lead in the second quarter. Armstrong added to his rushing touchdown total with five on the season.

With his return to the starting lineup, SaberCats’ receiver Adron Tennell, the 2013 AFL Wide Receiver of the Year, made an immediate impact. He finished with five receptions for 65 yards and four of those going for touchdowns.

In the Second quarter, Sharks’ receiver Joe Hills hauled in multiple receptions, matriculating the offense down to the goaline, with Ross able to do what he does best and rumble in for a one-yard touchdown run to cut the SaberCats lead to 21-14. Hills led the Sharks with 14 receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown.

After a great performance in his first game as a SaberCat last week, receiver D.J. Stephens continued to shine for San Jose. Stephens caught a 33-yard pass from Meyer and was brought down just a yard shy of the end zone. Unfortunately, defensive end Joe Skyes, a member of the SaberCats last season, jumped in on a botched snap and forced a fumble that was eventually recovered by Jacksonville. Following the fumble recovery, Jones sacrificed life and limb to haul in a 30-yard reception while flying over the boards to set up a Ross touchdown run.

With a Darius Reynolds reception bringing the SaberCats down to the four yard line, Meyer found Gray in the end zone on fourth down, as San Jose led 28-24 at halftime.

Following a Joe Hills touchdown reception by the Sharks, Gray was able to grab the kickoff and returned it 58-yards for a touchdown, the first on the season for San Jose, who responded immediately and pushed out to a 48-38 fourth quarter lead.

It did not take long for Jacksonville to answer, as receiver Jerod Harvery grabbed an 18-yard touchdown, his first touchdown reception of the season to make it a 48-45 San Jose lead.
With eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Meyer found Stephens in the back of the end zone. In his second game with San Jose, Stephens finished with three receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, SaberCats defensive end Donte Paige-Moss was able to recover the ball off of the uprights to provide the San Jose offense with the ball at the eight yard line. The recovery was culminated by a Gray touchdown reception to give the SaberCats a 62-45 with 3:46 remaining.

A late interception by defensive back Erik Crocker sealed the win for San Jose, who will be back at home in the SAP Center to host the Portland Thunder on Saturday April, 25th.

ABOUT THE SAN JOSE SABERCATS
The ArenaBowl XVI, XVIII and XXI champion San Jose SaberCats finished their 19th season in the AFL with a Pacific Division Title after making their return in 2011. Fans and sponsors can go to sanjosesabercats.com or call 408-673-3400 to sign up to receive the latest news and updates about the SaberCats, as well as to purchase 2015 season tickets. Make sure to follow the SaberCats on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news on the team.

The San Jose SaberCats Blow Past The Los Angeles Kiss 54-28

April 5, 2015 11:00PM PT

(San Jose, Calif.)– The San Jose SaberCats started fast and finished strong in their 2015 home opener.  The SaberCats fullback Odie Armstrong bulldozed his way into the end zone on the first possession and San Jose never took their foot off the gas.  The SaberCats blow past the Los Angeles Kiss 54-28, in front of 10,175 fans on Saturday night.

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The Kiss struggled to move the ball on the SaberCats defense most of the evening. Despite a good kick return by Marcus Trice which gave the Kiss excellent field position on the five yard-line.  The Kiss could not move the ball on the SaberCats vaunted defense. Two sacks and five penalties later, Los Angeles turned the ball over on downs.

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Photo By Shawn Jonas

The SaberCats jumped out to a 20-0 in the first quarter after wide reciever Reggie Gray scored on a 10-yard touchdown reception, and 6’3″ 315 pound Offensive Lineman Rich Ranglin took a screen pass in for a 14-yard touchdown.

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Gray lead the SaberCats in week one and continued on that same path within  San Jose’s aerial attack. He  finished with 10 receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

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Donovan Morgon got Los Angeles on the score board in the second quarter with a 33-yard touchdown reception from Adrian McPherson, cutting the San Jose lead to 20-7. The leading receiver for the Kiss was not done, as Morgan scored on a 42-yad reception to cut the SaberCats lead to 47-21. Morgan had five receptions for 141 yards and finished with three touchdown receptions for the second straight game.

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Photo by Shawn Jonas

Quarterback Erik Meyer played  another great game against the Kiss. He completed 20-of-31 passes for 222 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. Meyer has completed at least one touchdown passes to four different receivers in the first two games.

“(Meyer) goes through his progressions and in our mind somebody is always going be open,” said Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet.

The 27-7 lead was followed by a six-yard interception returned for a touchdown by David Hyland. Drawing from the ironman days of the past in the AFL, Hyland stepped in at wide receiver after Ben Nelson went down with an injury and scored on the other side of the ball as well. In his first appearance on offense since 2012, Hyland hauled in two receptions for 33 yards and a score to earn him J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game honors.

“The next man up is how we prepare every week; you have to know more than one position in this league,” said Hyland. “It’s kind of the old iron man game playing both offense and defense.”

The pass rush of San Jose overwhelmed Los Angeles’ offensive line, as McPherson was sacked six times and eventually was replaced by Brian Zbydniewski in the second half. With the game out of reach, Zbydniewski threw a pair of touchdowns to Morgan, completing 4-of-9 passes for 73 yards.

Virgil Gray took notice of the change, as he picked off Zbydniewski and returned it for a 27-yard touchdown. The off-season acquisition of Gray has been tremendous for the SaberCats secondary, as the playmaker has tallied an interception in both games this season.
Starting at defensive end for the second straight game, Luis Vasquez continued to dominate off of the edge. Vasquez totaled two-and-a-half sacks on the night, constantly disrupting the timing of the Kiss offense. Despite the team adding Donte Paige-
Moss and Rodney Fritz this off-season, the Arizona State Sun Devil is proving his worth in this top ranked defensive unit.

“This year is unfinished business,” said Vasquez. “Coming into this season it’s about what have you done for me lately and what can you do for us to win this game.”

With an aggressive unit that plays physical until the whistle blows, and the team still meshing with the newly acquired players, penalties have been a concern. San Jose committed 15 penalties that resulted in a loss of 92 yards.

“We are still making a lot of mistakes,” said coach Arbet. “It’s still early in the season, but that’s not the standard we want to be playing at.”

Sitting atop the Pacific Division, the SaberCats improved to 2-0 on the season and will travel to Tampa Bay for a showdown with the Storm (1-1) on Friday, April 10th.

DSC04415The San Jose Saber Kittens Pre-Game .  Photo By Shawn Jonas