Tag Archives: Reggie “Big Play” Gray

San Jose SaberCats vs Portland Thunder Game Preview

All photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE – Launching their quest for a fourth Arena Bowl Championship, the San Jose SaberCats will host the Portland Thunder in the Arena Football League’s Quarterfinal playoffs on Friday, August 14th with kickoff set for 8:00pm PDT. You can catch the action on ESPN2 or 1220AM KDOW.

This will be the fourth matchup between the Pacific Division foes this season, with San Jose victorious in each of the previous three. In the previous matchup on July 18th at the SAP Center, the Thunder jumped out to an early 20-0 lead in the first quarter, holding a 34-21 lead at halftime. However, the resilient SaberCats went on a
28-7 run to open the second half, ultimately winning in overtime, 55-49 with a fourth down stop of the Thunder’s offense.

San Jose wrapped up the regular season with a 60-38 victory over the LA KISS last week in Anaheim. With the win, the SaberCats tied last year’s Cleveland Gladiators for the best regular season record in league history at 17-1.

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Offensively, the SaberCats were led by receiver Maurice Purify. Scoring the first five touchdowns for San Jose, Purify finished with four receptions for 87 yards and six total touchdowns (three receiving and three rushing.) Meanwhile, D.J. Stephens led all SaberCats with 97 yards receiving yards on five receptions and a 38-yard touchdown.

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Finishing the regular season the league leader in receptions (162) total touchdowns (47) and tied for first in receiving touchdowns (44), receiver Reggie Gray has had a remarkable season. The fifth year player out of Western Illinois surpassed the 40 receiving touchdown mark for the fourth time in his career and also joined the 200 or more career receiving touchdowns club earlier this season. Now the franchise record holder in receptions, touchdowns, receiving yards and scoring, Gray has put his stamp on making plays in this league and “Big Play” Reggie Gray will remain a crucial factor in the SaberCats offense during their run for a fourth Arena Bowl championship.

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In the secondary, Ken Fontenette has also had a record-breaking season. Now the SaberCats franchise leader with 146.5 total tackles this season, the fifth year man out of Houston is also second in interceptions (12) and tied for third in pass breakups (29). Along with the legendary Clevan Thomas, who ranks second all-time in interceptions, San Jose’s passing defense has remained the leader in the AFL.

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Across the defensive front, the tandem of Francis Maka and Jason Stewart has combined for 21.5 of the SaberCats 44 sacks. Maka is tied for second in the AFL with 11.5 sacks, while Stewart leads all nose tackles with 10 and is tied for fourth in the AFL. In his second year in the league, Donte Paige-Moss has improved on his rookie sack total, now with nine sacks, ranking him tied for sixth.

Meanwhile, the Thunder are coming off a 67-39 loss to the Arizona Rattlers where they trailed 50-28 in the third quarter, before scoring 19 points in the fourth with a late rally. Last week saw the return of receiver Jamar Howard to the Thunder’s lineup. Howard led Portland with six receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown and is a piece of the Thunder receiving group that includes Jared Perry and V’Keon Lacey, each with 29 touchdowns and over 1,100 receiving yards.

Defensively, Portland is led up front by the pass rush duo of K.C. Obi and Marquis Jackson. Jackson leads the team with 7.5 sacks, while ranking second on the team with 11 pass breakups. Obi on the other hand has 6.5 sacks and is fourth on the team with 36.5 total tackles.

With a win, the SaberCats would reach the National Conference Championship game for the second straight year and would play host to the winner of the Arizona Rattlers and Spokane Shock’s matchup at Stockton Arena.

Game Preview Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

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