Tag Archives: Reggie Gray

San Jose SaberCats Reggie Gray Earns AFL Wide Receiver Of The YEAR AWARD

LAS VEGAS – The Arena Football League Office announced today San Jose SaberCats wide receiver Reggie Gray has been named Cutters Wide Receiver of the Year.

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Gray (5-10, 185, Western Illinois) set every major single-season receiving record in San Jose history, totaling 162 catches for 1,695 yards and a League-high 44 touchdowns in 2015. Last season’s J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Year, Gray raised his game to a new level in his fifth AFL season, earning First Team All-Arena honors for the first time in his career. This is also his first Cutters Wide Receiver of the Year selection and the first time a San Jose SaberCat has won the award.

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Press Release Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

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 Gray, Meyer, and Ranglin Earn 2015 All-Arena Offensive Team Honors

All photos by Shawn Jonas

Three San Jose SaberCats earned 2015 All-Arena Offensive Team honors the league announced today. Of the eighteen players honored, wide receiver Reggie Gray was named to the 1st Team All-Arena Offense after leading the AFL in total touchdowns (47) and receptions (162).

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Additionally, offensive lineman Rich Ranglin earned 2nd Team All-Arena honors, hauling in a career-high six touchdown receptions this season. Quarterback Erik Meyer also earned 2nd Team All-Arena honors throwing for 4,057 yards and 93 touchdowns with just six interceptions this season.

First Team All-Arena Offense
Second Team All-Arena Offense
QB Dan Raudabaugh, Philadelphia
FB Derrick Ross, Jacksonville
WR Reggie Gray, San Jose
WR Donovan Morgan, LA
WR Anthony Jones, Jacksonville
C Shannon Breen, Philadelphia
OL Moqut Ruffins, Jacksonville
OL Adam Smith, Philadelphia
K Tommy Frevert, Philadelphia
QB Erik Meyer, San Jose
FB Tommy Taggart, Philadelphia
WR Rod Windsor, Arizona
WR Joe Hills, Jacksonville
WR Marco Thomas, Philadelphia
C John Collins, Portland
OL Rich Ranglin, San Jose
OL Patrick Afif, Spokane
K Mark Lewis, 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 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

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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San Jose SaberCats Hold On in OT, 55-49 Over Portland Thunder

All photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE – The San Jose SaberCats (15-1, 5-0) grinded out a, 55-49 overtime thriller over the Portland Thunder (4-11, 1-4) on a record setting night Saturday.

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The SaberCats came back from a 20-point first half deficit, outscoring the Thunder 34-15 in the second half and overtime to remain undefeated in the Pacific Division. Trailing 49-41 halfway through the fourth quarter, Portland scored on a six-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Rowley to V’Keon Lacey and successfully completed the two-point conversion on a two-yard pass from Rowley to Duane Brooks, tying the game at 49-49.

With 3:04 remaining, San Jose took over for its final drive, as quarterback Erik Meyer orchestrated an eight-play drive, setting up a potential game-winning field goal. Lined up 27-yards away with just one second remaining, SaberCats’ kicker Nich Pertuit had his kick blocked by Frank Trotter, forcing overtime.

In their second home overtime outing of the season, the SaberCats received the ball first. On the drive, Meyer completed six passes to three different receivers; with Ben Nelson hauling in the four-yard go ahead touchdown, giving San Jose a 55-49 lead, despite missing the point after try. With a chance to equalize, the Thunder moved the ball down to the SaberCats’ five yard line, but was stopped on fourth down with an incomplete pass from Rowley, intended for Lacey and sealed the win for San Jose.

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“The guys kept their composure, they continued to fight and they got the win,” said Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet.

Portland opened the game with an 11-yard touchdown reception by Jared Perry to jump out to an early 6-0 lead. On the ensuing drive, Thunder defensive back De’Mon Glanton would strip Darius Reynolds and recover the fumble, setting up Rowley for a 13-yard touchdown pass to Lacey, making it a 13-0 lead with 8:51 remaining in the first quarter. Portland would regain possession after forcing a San Jose turnover on downs, leading to a 4-yard touchdown by Lacey, giving the Thunder a 20-0 lead after the first quarter. Lacey led the Thunder with four touchdowns, adding seven receptions and 63 yards receiving.

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With a routine 9-yard reception in the first quarter, Reggie Gray broke Rodney White’s all-time franchise record of 134 receptions in a season. Gray had a team-high 14 receptions 130 yards four touchdowns.

After the slow first quarter, The SaberCats would awaken in the second frame, getting on the board with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Gray in the corner of the end zone, taking a big hit but hanging on; cutting the lead to 20-7. The SaberCats would force a turnover on downs of their own, eventually scoring on a six yard touchdown pass from Meyer to veteran receiver Ben Nelson, making it a 20-14 score with 6:37 remaining in the first half. Meyer completed 34-of-50 passes for 284 yards for eight touchdowns.

In the final minute of the half, Jared Perry would add a 24-yard touchdown reception and Lacey would grab a 10-yard touchdown reception, extending the Thunder lead back to 20 at 34-14. Perry finished with a game-high 13 receptions for 156 yards, adding two touchdowns.

The roller-coaster of momentum swung back the SaberCats way when Gray returned the kickoff 48-yards, down to the eight-yard line with 12 seconds remaining. Gray would finish the drive with a 4-yard touchdown reception as the SaberCats trailed at halftime for only the second time this season at, 34-21.

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Coming out of the break, the SaberCats would march down the field from the three yard line, scoring on a 19-yard touchdown reception by Darius Reynolds. On the ensuing drive, Fontenette would intercept Rowley for the second time in the game, providing the San Jose offense with possession inside the red zone. The SaberCats top ranked scoring offense capitalized on the great field position, with Gray hauling in a 2-yard touchdown reception, giving the SaberCats their first lead at, 35-34 in the third quarter.

With his fourth touchdown of the game, Gray broke a SaberCats franchise record for most receiving touchdowns in a season with 41 and gave San Jose a 42-41 lead. “Big Play” Reggie Gray finished with a team-high 14 receptions for 130 yards and four touchdowns.

After Nelson grabbed his second touchdown of the game, Portland answered with a 6-yard pass from Rowley to Lacey, also successfully completing the two-point conversion to tie the game at 49-49, the mark that would stand until overtime.

2015 San Jose SaberKitten Reunion – Photo by ShawnJonas

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The SaberCats enter their bye week before hosting the Arizona Rattlers on Friday, July 31st, in a National Conference showdown on CBS Sports Network and 1220AM KDOW.

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations