SaberCats Dominate Thunder, Advance To National Conference Championships.

By Shawn Whelchel

SAN JOSE, Calif. The San Jose SaberCats steamrolled the Portland Thunder during opening round of the 2015 AFL playoffs on Friday, cruising their way to a 55-28 at SAP Center.

The SaberCats, who have dominated the Thunder in four consecutive matches this season, jumped out to an early lead while riding the back of dominate defensive effort that forced a pair of interceptions, a fumble and numerous turnovers on downs to reach the National Conference Championship at the SMG Stockton Arena.

Leading the way for the SaberCats were Ken Fontenette, who had an interception and forced fumble while totaling a team high 9 tackles, and Reggie Gray on offense, who had two touchdowns on four receptions while adding a 57 yard kickoff return to his stat-line as well.

The SaberCats will now face either the Spokane Shock or the Arizona Rattlers in the Conference Championship game, which will be determined on Saturday.

The SaberCats’ league leading defense was on full display during the opening half of the game, forcing four turnovers while allowing Portland to post just seven points over the first two quarters. Things got underway for San Jose during the opening drive by Portland, as Ken Fontenette showed the value of hustle by punching out the ball from behind after initially overrunning his man, forcing a fumble to be recovered by San Jose. After extending the drive with a fourth-and-long reception earlier, Maurice Purify would finish what he started with a 3-yard touchdown reception to put San Jose on the board first with a 7-0 lead.

The first quarter would remain devoid of action after a goal line stand by the SaberCats and a painfully long, eight minute drive by San Jose that ended in a turnover on downs. But Portland wouldn’t waste time on their third drive of the game, as QB Kyle Rowley tied the game up with a 33-yard bomb to Jamar Howard after he broke free of the SaberCats secondary.

San Jose would respond with a pair of scores, however. The first of the two highlighted receiver Ben Nelson’s athleticism, as the receiver had to make a mid-air adjustment with his body to snag the ball in the corner of the end zone. The SaberCats defense would set up the next score as David Hyland would make a leaping snag of Rowley’s pass over the middle to haul in the interception. Shortly after, Reggie Gray made the turnover hurt as he was lofted a pass across the end zone to make it a 21-7 lead.

San Jose would close out the half with one more touchdown after forcing a turnover on downs with 39 seconds left. Meyers and the offense worked efficiently down the field before yet another sprawling catch by Gray in the end zone would land his team a 28-7 lead heading into the locker room.

The SaberCats opened the second half much like they closed out the first, by finding their way into the end zone. Meyers used a steady helping of Purify and Nelson before the latter would bounce his way off defenders into the end zone for a 35-7 lead.

Unable to break the SaberCats defense, the Thunder instead attacked their special teams, as WR Duane Brooks broke free of the pack for a 54 yard touchdown return, closing the margin to 35-14.

The SaberCats clean play was marred in the third quarter after OL Rich Ranglin fumbled the ball after being cut from behind on a dump-off from Meyers. San Jose was on the cusp of recovering and mounting their third goal line stand of the game, before Rowley threw a perfect back shoulder fade to Howard for their second consecutive touchdown of the game.

But Big Play Reggie Gray would shore up any attempts of a comeback from Portland by taking a kick return of his own to the house, sprinting through the pile for a 57 yard touchdown to make it a 41-21 game.

After spreading the offense to many of his teammates throughout the game, Meyers decided to get in on the action himself on the SaberCats next score, scrambling to the left to find a wide open field before taking off to the end zone for a 9 yard touchdown and a 27 point lead.

The Thunder would return to score one final touchdown in garbage time, but would come up far short as a 55-28 final would sink their playoff hopes.

 

Game Notes:

With David Hyland’s interception in the first quarter, the DB has now had three straight games with a pickoff.

SAP Center will be unavailable for next week’s Conference Championship, which is why the game will be hosted at the SMG Stockton Arena. However, the SaberCats will be providing a free shuttle bus to the Stockton Arena from Fry’s Home Office at 550 E Brokaw Rd. San Jose, CA, 95112 prior to the game.

Tickets to the game will be made available to the public on Ticketmaster on Monday, August 17th at noon.

SaberCats Trample Rival Rattlers 56-29, Secure Home Field Advantage.

 

By Shawn Whelchel

SAN JOSE, Ca.-The San Jose SaberCats made a statement against the conference rival Arizona Rattlers on Friday night, crushing their nemesis by a score of 56-29 to secure home field advantage in both the opening and conference rounds of the playoffs.

After what started out as a back and forth game through the first two quarters, The SaberCats used a massive second half explosion of both offense and defense to put the nail in the coffin of the Rattlers.

A familiar friend would turn enemy for Arizona, as former Rattlers receiver Maurice Purify helped to demolish his old team with a 108-yard night that ended with three touchdowns. Reggie Gray followed his new teammate’s performance up with three touchdowns of his own on 88 yards receiving.

The fierce divisional rivalry got underway in dull fashion Friday night as both teams went four-and-out to open the game in a lackluster manner. However, both teams quickly cleared off the rust and were off to the races from there on out. Arizona struck first, concocting an efficient 6-play, 45 yard drive before Mykel Benson plunged into the end zone for his 16th rushing touchdown of the season.

The SaberCats would respond with an efficient drive of their own, using eight plays before the team’s touchdown leader, Reggie Gray, would add on to his franchise record with yet another touchdown to even things up at seven a piece. Things got shaky for the SaberCats after that, as Arizona quarterback Nick Davila would find his go-to receiver, Rod Windsor, wide open in the end zone to put his team ahead.

After yet another defensive stop by Arizona left his team with good field position, Davila would widen his lead margin using just one play, a 20 yard bomb to receiver Kerry Reed to put his team up 20-7 after a missed PAT.

But the SaberCats refused to let things get out of hand, as QB Erik Meyers slowed the bleeding by responding with a solid drive of his own that ended with former Arizona star Maurice Purify hurting his old team with his first touchdown of the night to pull to within six. The league’s leading defense helped their own cause on the following drive as well, as an aborted snap by the Rattlers lead to San Jose reclaiming the ball.

The SaberCats would make good on their opportunity as a heavy dose of Reggie Gray moved them downfield before FB Odie Armstrong would rumble ten yard out of the backfield for a touchdown. After missing the PAT, the game was tied at 20.

The next drive ended in unusual fashion for both teams involved, as the Rattlers retook the lead on another Windsor touchdown after an ill-advised onside kick try from San Jose gave them the short field. However, the SaberCats special teams made yet another stand on the PAT, this time blocking the ball before Rodney Fritz returned it the length of the field to give San Jose two points of their own, making it a 22-26 ball game.

With under a minute left, the SaberCats mounted one last drive, as Meyers connected with three different receivers before Purify would outmuscle his defender in the end zone to make a leaping grab for his second touchdown of the game, giving the SaberCats a 29-26 advantage heading into halftime.

The Rattlers reclaimed the ball on the opening kickoff after a fortuitous bounce of the goal post shot the ball out to the 20-yard line and into the hands of Arizona for a turnover on the kickoff. Arizona wasn’t able to find the end zone, but Fabrizio Scaccio used his leg to tie the game up at 29 with a 27-yard field goal.

Gray would put the SaberCats ahead after a nice double move in space opened him up in the back of the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, putting his team up six after another rare Nick Pertuit miss.

The SaberCats would follow up with a pair of highlights on both sides of the ball, as DB David Hyland would make a spectacular leaping pick of a Davila pass to give way to Purify on offense, who would take the ball 34 yards down the field after spinning off a defender for his third touchdown of the night. San Jose would enjoy a commanding 42-29 lead after the spectacles.

San Jose’s defense would return with a vengeance on the next drive as well, forcing three hurries and gathering a sack to force a turnover on downs that would give the SaberCats a first and goal. After a series of setbacks, it would be Gray who would again make good on the scoring opportunity as he tallied his third touchdown of the game for a 49-29 lead for San Jose.

The SaberCats continued to add clips to their highlight reel after D.J Stephens made a dime-stop to slip under a defender before sneaking into the end zone to expand the lead to 56-29 in the fourth quarter, effectively nailing the coffin in their rival’s comeback plans.

 

 

Game Notes:

Reggie Gray broke the SaberCats’ single-season receiving-yards record with a 12 yard catch in the second quarter of Friday night’s game.

With the win, the SaberCats secured home field advantage for both the opening and conference rounds of the playoffs.

David Hyland’s interception would add on to their league leading tally, now leaving them with 31 on the season.

SaberCats Shrug Off Slow Start, Beat Portland In Overtime.

By Shawn Whelchel

 

Riding the back of a historic night by receiver Reggie Gray, the San Jose SaberCats erased a sloppy start to come from behind and beat the Portland Thunder 55-49 in overtime at SAP Center on Saturday night.

Gray, who broke both the single-season franchise records for most receptions and receiving touchdowns, finished the night with 14 receptions for 130 yards and four touchdowns.

The outburst by Gray helped lead a come from behind effort that saw the SaberCats down as much as 20 points in the opening quarter amidst ugly play.

The San Jose SaberCats hardly looked like the AFL’s league leading team during the opening half of Saturday night’s contest, making mistakes on both offense and defense that allowed the Thunder to take a commanding 34-21 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

Things got off to a rough start for San Jose after allowing two quick scores to the visiting team to open the first quarter. After striking on their opening drive, the Thunder found themselves with the ball again after forcing a fumble from Darius Reynolds on the SaberCats opening offensive play of the game. Portland would get points on the turnover after using three plays to go 19 yards for their second score of the game.

Things would not get easier for San Jose on their next trip out after quarterback Erik Meyers suffered a 12 yard sack on fourth down to set up a short-field situation for the Thunder, who would again cash in on the error with a diving catch by V’Keon Lacey to shoot out to a 20-0 lead.

But the SaberCats would stabilize their sinking ship on the back of the reliable Reggie Gray, whose 25 yard touchdown catch in the opening minutes of the second half would not only get the SaberCats on the board for the first time, but would also break the franchise record for most receptions in a season. Fellow wideout Ben Nelson would follow up Gray’s touchdown with a sliding touchdown despite heavy coverage to cut the deficit to six.

Just as it appeared that San Jose would amass a quick comeback, the Thunder struck twice to break the game open again. The SaberCats squandered a solid red zone opportunity after an interception by Ken Fontenette gave them good field position for the third straight possession. However, after failing to convert a fourth and one near the goal line, the Thunder rode the momentum of their defensive stop into a 24 yard touchdown pass with under a minute to go, widening their lead to 27-14.

The ugly half wouldn’t end there for San Jose, as a 24-second, four-and-out gave Portland the ball back on the 10-yard line with time to operate. Portland would rub salt on the wound on the first play of the drive, with their second touchdown in under a minute to make it a 34-14 deficit for the SaberCats. Again it would be Gray to salvage the sinking ship for the SaberCats.

With just 20 seconds left, the speedy receiver returned a kickoff 42-yards to give San Jose a first and goal opportunity. He would finish what he started by catching his second touchdown of the game with just two seconds left to keep his team in the game, heading to the locker room with a 34-21 deficit.

 

San Jose came out as a reinvigorated team to open the second half, using their renewed spirit to grab their first lead of the game after nine minutes of play. Darius Reynolds kicked off the scoring for San Jose, using a nifty move to break free on the sideline for a 19 yard touchdown. It was then up to Fontenette to get the ball right back for San Jose after recording his second interception of the game. Gray would cap the drive off with his third touchdown of the night, this one on a fourth and goal, to take a 35-34 lead.

Gray’s next touchdown would continue his historic night, as the wide receiver not only regained the lead for his team after Portland reclaimed it on the previous possession, but also secured the speedy receiver as the SaberCats franchise leader for touchdowns in a single-season with his 41st scoring reception on the year.

A second consecutive score for San Jose, this time on a Ben Nelson touchdown, would give San Jose an eight point lead. But Portland would not go down quietly. With just over three minutes left in the game, Kyle Rowley would sling his sixth touchdown of the game.After electing to go for two points, Portland would tie things up at 49 a-piece after completing the conversion.

San Jose received the ball with time to mount a final scoring drive, but questionable calls derailed their plans. On consecutive plays, receptions by Nelson and Gray were ruled incomplete, although it appeared the receivers could have held on for what would have been touchdowns. After a field goal attempt from 12 yards out was blocked by Portland, the game was sent to overtime.

The SaberCats used an efficient six play drive to go 48 yards for a touchdown to open up extra time, but failed to convert the PAT to lead by just six. Portland amassed a threatening drive, reaching the four yard line with plenty of time left, but Rowley launched a fourth-and-one pass high into the net to end the game in dramatic fashion for San Jose.

 

Game Notes:

Gray’s 14 receptions and four touchdowns gives him a single season total of 147 receptions and 41 touchdowns, both franchise records for the SaberCats.

The San Jose SaberCats announced today that they have partnered with ReplyBuy to create SaberCats Mobile Fast Pass, bringing fans an easier way to instantly purchase game tickets. Mobile Fast Pass enables SaberCats’ fans to purchase tickets with a simple text message. Upon purchasing a ticket via text, a mobile e-ticket will be sent instantly, the faster a reply, the better the seats. By texting SABERCATS to 20123, fans will receive an initial $10 credit just for signing up.
The San Jose SaberCats announced today that they will have a live stream Internet broadcast for the remaining home games this season on SaberCats TV. SaberCats TV will launch on www.sanjosesabercats.tv beginning with the game Saturday, July 18th against the Portland Thunder at 7:30PM PDT.

Cats Season Ends, Declawed By Rattlers 72-56

Photo Courtesy San Jose Sabercats
Photo Courtesy San Jose Sabercats

By Kahlil Najar

ARIZONA – The  San Jose SaberCats  fell to the #1 seeded Arizona Rattlers 72-56 to end their 2014 season. The Cats Quaterback Russ Michna completed 21 of 37 passes for 269 yards with six passes. All Pro Reggie Gray contributed with 9 receptions for 148 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Cats, Arizona Quarterback Nick Davila threw for eight touchdowns to four different receivers and had three receivers with at least a pair of touchdowns each.

The Rattlers started off the game strong with three touchdowns in each quarter while the Cats were only able to come up with one in the first. However they matched the three touchdowns by the Rattlers in the second quarter.

San Jose quarterback Nathan Stanley found wide receiver Reggie Gray  for a 30-yard touchdown in the first. In the second, Russ Michna replaced Stanley at Quarterback and found Gray for a quick nine-yard touchdown to make the lead only 7 points for the Rattlers. After an Arizona score, Michna found wide receiver stand out Dominique Curry for another 9-yard touchdown. Unfortunately, Arizona answered back quickly to make it a 35-21 game. Not wanting to stray from a good thing, Michna again found Gray for another touchdown and took the score to 35-28 in favor of Arizona. After a successful onside kick, Michna tossed a deep pass but was intercepted and Arizona capitalized on the mistake and scored another touchdown with 4.9 seconds left and made it a 42-28 lead at halftime.

Arizona was only able to score 16 points in the third but the Cats weren’t able to capitalitze on it and only scored 7 points in the quarter on another touchdown by Gray. Michna found Gray hooked on a nice 32-yard completion that put the game back into reach for the Cats. The Rattlers then scored a few more times and made it a deflating 58-35 game after three quarters of play. After a failed onside kick attempt, Arizona’s offense would settle for a 26-yard field goal by kicker Craig Ratanamorn to make the score 51-35.

In the fourth, Odie Armstrong barreled his way into the end zone and made it only a 16 point lead at 58-42. Again Arizona scored but then Michna found Jason Willis in the end zone and made it a 65-49 game. Arizona scored again to give them a 72-42 lead then in the waning minutes of the game Michna found Willis again and brought it to the final score of 72-56.

“There’s a reason they have been in that situation for four years in a row now,” said Michna on the Rattlers.

With the win, Arizona heads to their fourth straight Arena Bowl.

Sabercats’ Smothering Defense Lead San Jose to Conference Title Game

By: Joe Lami

SAN JOSE Calif.–

The San Jose Sabercats started their 2014 post-season run with a 55-28 victory over their Pacific Division rival, the Spokane Shock, on Saturday to advance to the National Conference Championship next weekend.

The best defense in the AFL showed why, as they held their opponents to just 28 points, all of which came in the second half. The 28-point total is also the second lowest point total the Sabercats have given up all season, as they held the Portland Thunder to just 27 points on May 17.

“We played as a unit tonight,” said Sabercats’ Defensive Tackle Jason Stewart, who recorded 3.5 sacks in the victory. Stewart came up huge in the 2nd Quarter for San Jose, when they faced a third down and two from their own nine. Stewart came up with a sack on the play. When Spokane decided to go for it on fourth down and six, Stewart came up with his second sack in as many play to force the turnover on downs, and help keep the Shock off of the scoreboard. Stewart wasn’t the only one on the defensive line to make plays, as Francis Maka with two sacks, and Terrance Carter with 1.5 sacks found ways to get to the Quarterback.

The defense didn’t stop there, however, as they also came up with three interceptions, all coming in the first half. Ken Fontenette, whose known for his tackling ability more than his intercepting ability led the way with two interceptions for 40 yards. He also finished the game with ten total tackles, leading the team. “Kenny put the team on his back tonight,” added Head Coach Darren Arbet.

David Hyland also picked one off of Erik Meyer, the reigning AFL MVP, with a magnificent catch in the end zone to take away a touchdown.

In his first career playoff game, Sabercats’ Quarterback, Nathan Stanley had an outstanding performance finishing the game 18 of 35 for five touchdowns and 193 yards. “It meant something to him, he was focused,” Arbet commented. Stanley did a great job of spreading the ball around, as each Reggie Gray and Dominique Curry had two touchdowns, with Ben Nelson receiving one. Stanley gave all the credit to his defense however, “they did a great job, it really took a lot of pressure off of us,” he added after the win.

San Jose now awaits their fate, as they will find out their next opponent on Sunday, where they will face the winner of the Arizona Rattlers (15-3) and the Portland Thunder (5-13). If the Rattlers win, the Sabercats will travel to Phoenix next weekend, but if Portland pulls off the upset, they will host the Thunder at home in San Jose.

SaberCats Unplug the Shock Win 47-37 and Clinch Playoff Spot

Harper and Gray Celebrate SaberCats Touchdown In The Third Quarter (Photo Credit: Emily Zahner)
Harper and Gray Celebrate SaberCats Touchdown In The Third Quarter                  (Photo Credit: Emily Zahner)

 

By Kahlil Najar

SAN JOSE – The San Jose SaberCats (9-4) unplugged the Shock (6-7), 47-37 and clinched a playoff birth tonight. San Jose quarterback Nathan Stanley completed 18-of-31 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns. Jason Willis lead the San Jose receiving core with 77 yards receiving however Reggie Gray, Rod Harper, Dominique Curry and Rich Ranglin had a touchdown each tonight. Defensively, Francis Maka lead the cats with three-and-a-half sacks.

“They (the defense) played great. They’ve been the backbone of the team. They’ve been very consistent week in and week out. Getting pressure on the quarterback and covering teams,” said Head Coach Darren Arbet. “It’s a really close group and they challenge each other.”

The SaberCats were in control of the game and one of the standout plays of the first half was a deep pass from Stanley to offensive weapon Reggie Gray down field who dove to grab the ball.

“Tonight was a big game for my receivers. They played extremely well,” said Stanley. “Reggie had the deep route but we double counted them and got them on the jump. I took a shot and Reggie went up there and got it.”

The Shock got on the board first when Terrance Sanders took the opening kickoff 57-yards and made it a 7-0 lead. Dominique Curry answered for the Cats when he rumbled into the end zone from one yard out and tied the game at 7. Stanley found Ranglin open for a 15-yard screen pass before the end of the first and put the Cats up 14-7.

Spokane outscored San Jose in the second quarter 17-13 on the strength of two touchdowns – a two yard run from Rashaad Carter and a six yard touchdown to Nick Truesdell and a field goal. Stanley was able to get a pair of touchdowns for the Cats including a one-yard run from JJ Payne and the 42-yard bomb to Reggie Gray. At the half, the  Cats were up 27-24.

Stanley found wide receiver Rod Harper for a 14-yard touchdown to start the second half and increased the San Jose lead to 10.After a turnover on downs by the Shock, Stanley fired a bullet to Curry who was able to break a few tackles and tan the ball into the end zone to make it 41-24.

In the fourth, the Cats were able to put up a pair of field goals and the Shock were only able to put up a pair of touchdowns and finished the game with a 47-37 victory for San Jose.

With the win, the Cats have made the playoffs in back-to-back-back years.

On clinching the playoff spot Arbet said, “You always have those three goals – clinch a playoff spot, win your division then win the championship. One down, two to go.”

The Cats next face Arizona on June 27th at home at 7:30pm.

No Shock in Spokane for San Jose

Photo Courtesy SJ SaberCats
Photo Courtesy SJ SaberCats

By Emily Zahner

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON—The San Jose SaberCats (7-3), riding a four game winning streak, took on the Spokane Shock (5-5) tonight at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Washington. Riding in with confidence and less impactful injuries, the Cats took the win 49-34. With the added offensive power of Reggie Gray, who returned from injury tonight, the Cats made easy work of Spokane. With the loss of their MVP quarterback Erik Meyer, the Shock have been putting up low numbers lately, and tonight was no exception. However, coming into the game tonight, San Jose didn’t come in with any low expectations. The Shock hold the edge over the season series between the two teams, leading 5-3.

The first half was all Cats. The first period saw the Cats go up 14-6, followed by an equally offensive second, ending with San Jose up 28-13. San Jose didn’t let up until the final whistle. Scoring 14 points in each of the first three quarters, San Jose gave themselves a lead that would give them the victory. Spokane was equally as consistent, but on the opposing side of the score sheet; scoring 6, 7, and 7 in each of the first three periods. The Shock made it interesting in the fourth, outscoring the Cats 14-7.

Spokane seemed out of sorts without the leadership of QB Erik Meyer. Brian Zbydniewski completed 24 of 42 passing attempts, good for 303 yards and two touchdowns, and two sacks. Meanwhile, Russ Michna performed on the other end of the scoring spectrum. Michna completed 17 of 29 passes, good for 4 touchdowns and 218 yards.

In his return to the lineup, Reggie Gray received 8 passes good for 83 yards, completing one touchdown. The next best on the team was Jason Willis, with two received passes and 40 yards and a touchdown. San Jose has now won five games in a row, improving to a 7-3 record.

The Cats have a bit of a break before heading down to Arizona to take on the always impressive Arizona Rattlers on May 31st at 6:30pm.

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 suck the Soul out of Philadelphia, 70-33

sabercats

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.

Sabercats Spoil Thunder’s Franchise Debut 64 -34

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 1.05.46 AM

By Kahlil Najar

Portland, Oregon – The San Jose SaberCats (1-0) manhandled the Portland Thunder (0-1) in front of the Thunders first ever home game at the Moda Center and beat them 64-34. The SaberCats offense was powered by Reggie Gray who had an impressive offensive showing as he went for 102 yards and 4 touchdowns on only six catches. SaberCats quarterback Russ Michna went 12 for 16 for 166 yards and five touchdowns and left the game at halftime after he gave the SaberCats a 37-27 lead. Nathan Stanley finished the game at quarterback for San Jose and went eight for 14 for 89 yards with three touchdowns.

Portland started the game strong as they were able to score on their first ever possession when University of Oregon alumni Darron Thomas found his way into the end zone and gave Portland the 7-0 lead. However the SaberCats were able to answer back when Michna found Gray for a 16-yard strike and tie the game up at seven. Then after a defensive stop by the SaberCats, Michna found Rod Harper for an 11-yard reception and gave the SaberCats a 13-7 lead after one quarter of play.

In the second quarter, Michna connected for three touchdowns including two to Gray and one to Jason Willis. Michna also found his second favorite target of the game Harper four times in the second quarter. Harper ended the game with 105  yards on 10 catches and two touchdowns. Portland also scored three times in the quarter including their first ever pass touchdown on a nice play from quarterback Nathan Enderle who found Jeffre Solomon for a 32-yard score but ended with a missed extra point and bring the score to 37-27 at halftime.

After halftime the SaberCats put in Nathan Stanley for last two quarters of the game and he continued the SaberCats dominance as he found Willis, Gray and Harper for scores and didn’t give up an interception. The SaberCats defense also stood strong in the second half as they didn’t allow a single point in the third quarter and only one touchdown in the fourth. Huey Whittaker contributed on defense with nine tackles on defense and veteran Ken Fontenette contributed with six of his own.

“I thought my guys played hard, they came out and did what they had to do,” said Head Coach Darren Arbet. “They took care of business. I liked the way they played.”

The SaberCats are back on the field on March 29 in San Jose when the host the Philadelphia Soul (0-1) at 5:00 pm.