By Emily Zahner and Kahlil Najar
SAN JOSE, CA–Fresh off their convincing week one win over the newly formed Portland Thunder, the San Jose SaberCats cruised to an easy 70-33 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Soul late Sunday afternoon. In his very first start of his AFL career, Rookie Nathan Stanley impressed the Cats faithful with a spectacular game. Stanley completed 18 of 28, for 249 yards with 6 TDs and zero interceptions. Head coach Darren Arbet had nothing but praise for his QB, saying “this game is made for him right now.” Stanley admitted to having pre-game jitters in his AFL starting debut, especially since he did not anticipate getting into the game so quickly in the season. After starting QB Russ Michna suffered concussion symptoms after the first game of the season, Stanley was told to be ready, and was given the start.
After giving up an early TD, the SaberCats bounced back to finish the first quarter 14-7. The two traded scores in the second quarter, and ended after the Soul pressured hard and earned a touchdown that carried the game into the half with the home team up by a small margin of 35-27. The rookie QB continued to impress, at the end of the second quarter, Stanley had thrown for four touchdowns, 123 yards and no interceptions. San Jose’s impressive defense gave the rookie the chance he needed to put his team ahead. “It’s really comforting to be able to rely on my defense, especially as a new QB”, Stanley said.
The third and fourth were all Cats. San Jose held the Soul completely scoreless in the third and the majority of the fourth. Newcomer Reggie Gray lit up the score sheet in the second half. After just one 24-yard touchdown in the first half, Gray posted 53 yards and 2 touchdowns in the second. Gray had 46 touchdowns last year with the Chicago Rush, and so far has wasted no time bringing those stats to San Jose. When asked about his home debut with the team, Gray stated “the atmosphere here was amazing. There were a few jitters but it’s special to be a part of such a great team”.
In their season opener last week, Philadelphia’s Derrick Ross instantly made a name for himself in their thrilling overtime loss to the defending AFL champions, Arizona Rattlers. Ross posted an impressive six touchdowns, with 12 carries for 46 yards. In week two, the SaberCats held him to only 34 yards with one touchdown.
With just a minute left in the game, Philadelphia managed to break through the SaberCats’ defense and cut the ever-growing lead down to 70-33.
San Jose heads to Pennsylvania next Saturday, looking to continue their strong start to the season against the Pittsburg Power, who were 4-14 last season.