SaberCats Win Home Opener 54-28 Against KISS, Remain Undefeated.

By Shawn Whelchel


SAN JOSE-The San Jose SaberCats welcomed back fans of the sport by remaining undefeated on Saturday after steadily dispatching the Los Angeles KISS in a 54-28 blowout win at SAP Center.

For the second straight game, the SaberCats offense eclipsed the 50-point margin while keeping Los Angeles at bay with their stifling defense, handing the KISS their second loss of the season.

The SaberCats got off to a hot start on both sides of the ball on Saturday night as they were able to put 34 points on the board by the end of the first half. Full back Odie Armstrong rumbled his way into the end zone to open up the scoring for San Jose before quarterback Erik Meyer rattled off three consecutive passing touchdowns to a trio of different receivers.

San Jose’s fearsome defense picked up where their offensive counterparts left off, forcing the KISS into two-straight turnover on downs to open the game. The SaberCats defense was helped out by a number of miscues from Los Angeles’ offensive line, who continued to get flagged for penalties throughout the first quarter.

Los Angeles would clean up their play in the second, going on to score their first touchdown in the early minutes of the frame after quarterback Adrian McPherson connected with WR Donovan Morgan on a 33-yard bomb on fourth-and-long. They would score again later in the second, but not before the SaberCats secondary would make them pay with a pick-six by David Hyland near the goal line. San Jose would ride a comfortable 34-14 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter was dominated by the SaberCats, as they held Los Angeles to yet another scoreless frame while adding on to their lead with a 15-yard touchdown by David Hyland and the second defensive touchdown of the game after Virgil Gray jumped the lane on a pass by KISS quarterback Brian Zbydniewski for a 27-yard pick six.

But Los Angeles wouldn’t go quietly, as they came out gunning to open the final quarter of the game with a 42-yard bomb from Zbydniewski to Morgan to cut the score to 47-21. The two teams would trade touchdowns until time ran out, rewarding San Jose with their second straight win of the season.

The SaberCats will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Storm on April 10.

SaberCats snap three game losing streak, top Thunder 38-32

Photo Courtesy SJ SaberCats
Photo Courtesy SJ SaberCats

By Emily Zahner

PORTLAND, OREGON-The San Jose SaberCats (3-3) look to get back to winning ways tonight and end their three game losing streak as they face the equally struggling Portland Thunder (0-5). This is the second match up between the two this year, with the Cats taking the first win easily 64-34. Portland has yet to find its first win, on the season and of team history. San Jose squeaked out a win, 38-32, handing the Thunder their fifth consecutive loss. The Thunder made it interesting though, battling until the end and looking nothing like a team who hasn’t won a game this season.

The Thunder struggled early, with three straight turnovers that looked to dictate the game; however minutes later, Portland opened the scoring after capitalizing on a San Jose fumble, fueling their energy and giving them momentum. Multiple turnovers and miscues provided to an ugly period, which ended 7-0 with Portland on top. The Cats were unable to find the score sheet, but got on the board early in the second to cut the deficit to 10-3. Every loose ball seemed to find the Thunder, but the Cats remained persistent and ended the half down 19-14.

San Jose came out on fire in the second half. Nathan Stanley came in briefly to relieve Russ Michna, and completed his first possession for a touchdown to Doug Williams. Coming back into the game, Michna took matters into his own hands and ran it himself for a touchdown to give the Cats their first lead of the game. Michna’s TD took the game into the fourth with a tight score of 31-25.

Portland answered in a hurry, giving themselves an early one point lead in the fourth. After trading scores, San Jose went up 38-32 with just under five minutes to go in the game. Portland pressed hard at the end of the fourth, looking as though they would tie the game, but an incomplete attempt on fourth down lead to the final turnover of the game and a SaberCats victory. With the win, San Jose has snapped their 3-game losing streak to improve to an even record of 3-3 on the season.

Russ Michna threw 12 for 29 with 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. In his brief appearance, Nathan Stanley went 1 for 1 with 22 yards and one touchdown. Newcomer Doug Williams had 108 receiving yards for two touchdowns. When asked about his first game as a SaberCat, Williams responded “I’m just happy we got the win. I had to be patient, wait my time to get here.” On his chemistry with Michna throughout the game, the wide receiver praised his QB, “he always has a great touch on the ball. It’s easy to catch a ball from Russ”

San Jose heads to LA next weekend to take on the LA Kiss on Saturday April 26th at 7pm. The Kiss are currently second in the National Conference with a 2-2 record, sitting behind the reigning champions, Arizona Rattlers.

SaberCats get Shocked By Spokane, Lose 73-62

Photo Courtesy San Jose SaberCats
Photo Courtesy San Jose SaberCats

By Kahlil Najar

SAN JOSE – The San Jose SaberCats (2-2) were defeated by reigning AFL MVP Erik Meyer and the Spokane Shock (2-1), 73-62. Meyer had an impressive night as he ran for four touchdowns and threw for over 250 yards. Russ Michna got the start after being out for the last two games had a great game himself. He threw for 352 yard and eight touchdowns. Unfortunately he also threw three interceptions that resulted in 14 points for Spokane. All Star candidate Reggie Gray caught eight passes for 75 yards and five touchdowns.

“We’re going to have to watch the tape and practice. More practice is going to fix it,” said Head Coach Darren Arbet on the loss tonight. “We have to regroup, practice and believe in each other and continue to play hard.”

Speaking on Spokane, Arbet said, “The way we played tonight it’d be tough to beat anyone in this league. Spokane is a good football team. It’s a long season we just have to practice and get better.”

On his return to the field Michna said, “It felt good to be back on the field but it was an ugly night though. A lot of things happened that don’t happen to us often. We just have to get better. I was disappointed with my performance but we turned the ball over four times and I had three interceptions. I can’t name the last time I threw the ball to the other team that many times.”

Spokane got on the board with less than 30 seconds gone in the first when Meyer found a streaking Mike Washington on a nice 19-yard pass. The SaberCats hopped on the field and went for a deep pass to start the game but Michna over threw the speedy Rod Harper. The five plays later Michna threw a pass down the middle of the field that was tipped in the air by the Shocks Terence Moore who was able to grab the ball and give it back to Spokane. The Shock then worked five minutes off the clock and found Terrance Carter on a 15 yard strike to give the Shock a 14-0 lead with a little over seven minutes left in the first. On the SaberCats next possession, Michna found Reggie Gray from 15-yards out for the SaberCats first score of the night.

The second quarter felt like an old west shoot out. There was a total of 63 points scored including three rushing touchdowns by Meyer for Spokane and a pair of touchdowns to both Gray and Rod Harper on the SaberCats. The Cats seemed to have the momentum going into their favor as one of Gray’s touchdowns happened with only 17 seconds left in the half but then Terrance Sanders ran the ball back off of Nick Pertuit’s kickoff and gave the Shock a 49-35 lead.

San Jose had the ball to start the third but then when Michna was working in the pocket he was hit and was picked off again by Moore to turn the ball back over to Spokane. Fortunately for the Cats, they were able to hold Spokane to zero point off the turnover as SPokane kick Taylor Rowan hit the bar and turned the ball back to San Jose. After getting the ball back, Michna found Gray again for his fourth touchdown of the night and brought the lead to a manageable seven point deficit. However Meyer was able to find Washington for a deep 41-yard bomb to make it 56-42 game after three quarters.

Michna tossed his third interception of the game on his first pass of the quarter and gave the ball back to Spokane. Again Meyer was able to take the ball into the end zone himself and made it a 63-42 game. Michna found Gray yet again for his fifth touchdown and 14th touchdown of the season to bring it back down to a 14 point lead for Spokane. Spokane drove down the field again and settled for a field goal but by this time it already seemed like the wind was knocked out of the SaberCats. They were able to get a pair of touchdowns from J.J. Payne and Huey Whittaker but the SaberCats still fell by 11 points with a final score of 73-62.

The Cats will stay home this week and practice as coach continued to say and will face the Arizona Rattlers next Saturday at 7:30 pm.

Former Retiree earns Defensive Back of the Year

By Emily Zahner

August 13, 2013

SAN JOSE, CA—The San Jose SaberCats gave their fans another year worth watching, posting a record of 13-6 and making the post season once again. A crushing defeat the Arizona Rattlers saw the Cats eliminated and sent packing, but that wouldn’t be the last of San Jose in the news. The Arena Football League announced on Tuesday that SaberCats DB Clevan Thomas had been named the AFL Defensive Back of the Year, as well as being a First Team All-Arena Selection.

Clevan’s selection came as a shocker to some, as he had retired from the AFL in 2008. The Cats faithful weren’t surprised at all… and upon his return in 2013, Thomas posted an incredible year with the Cats. Playing in all 18 games for San Jose, Thomas blew the lid of all sorts of records, including a career and franchise-high 15 interceptions. Most notable, Thomas set a new AFL record with six pick-6; the previous record was four. Thomas picked up the final two in a win against the Chicago Rush.

San Jose’s star DB recorded 74 tackles and recovered two fumbles throughout the season. The Cats hope to see Thomas owning the field again next year.

SaberCats fail to upset Rattlers, eliminated from playoffs

August 4, 2013
US Airways Center
By Emily Zahner and Kahlil Najar

PHOENIX, AZ—The San Jose SaberCats were eliminated from the Arena Football League playoffs Sunday night, as they were defeated by the defending champion Arizona Rattlers 59-49. San Jose’s QB Russ Michna completed 20 of 36 passes for 238 yards and five total touchdowns (one rushing), but mistakes cost the Cats and Michna’s impressive play was not enough to move on to the second round.

Coming in to tonight’s game, every favored team had advanced to the next round, creating an opportunity for the SaberCats to become the first upset of the playoffs. Last season, the Arizona Rattlers dealt the SaberCats a heart breaking defeat, but on the backs on QB Russ Michna and wide receivers Jason Willis and James Roe, the Cats clawed their way back into the post season to find some revenge. With the top two scoring teams in the league, this first round game was expected to be high scoring and intense. With the odds against them, the Cats would turn the ball to Michna, who began this game with a successful 4-0 record against Arizona.

In the first possession, the Cats struggled and prevented from building the momentum they were looking to carry into this game. San Jose was unable to make any forward progress, and on the turnover, the Rattlers took no time to get the first score, going up 7-0 just seconds into the game. It didn’t take the Cats long to get on the board, as the next possession they were able to convert for a score. At the end of the first, the game was tied 14-14, but it took less than two minutes into the second for the Rattlers to score again. After questionable officiating and physical play, the first half came to a close with the Rattlers leading 28-21.

A potential turning point of the game for the Cats occurred in the third quarter when Arizona’s kicker Garret Lindholm missed the opportunity for a field goal and defensive back Clevan Thomas returned the miss 49-yards for a San Jose touchdown. This turned the momentum to the Cats, and one score later, they had brought the score to 35-35. Arizona’s QB Nick Davila faltered, and threw an interception to Huey Whitaker who returned the pick-6, giving San Jose their first lead 42-35. Arizona kept pressing, and at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the score was tied 42-42.

In the fourth, the Cats turned the ball over at the one yard line that the Rattlers managed to return to regain the lead, and it was all Rattlers from there. Russ Michna had to take matters into this own hands, running for the touchdown with 3:27 left in the game, shortening the deficit to 56-49, but it wouldn’t be enough. More mistake by the defense cost San Jose, and Arizona punched their ticket to the next round with a final score of 59-49. The San Jose SaberCats end their thrilling season 13-6.