SaberCats Deliver In Must Win Game
By Barbara Mason
The San Jose SaberCats were back at HP Pavilion Saturday night as they took on the 8-7 New Orleans VooDoo in a must win game for San Jose. Currently hanging onto the fourth playoff spot, the team needed a win, in fact, winning out would be the optimum for the SaberCats. It’s the one thing that they alone control. New Orleans came into this game on a winning streak, a streak that they had every intention of extending.
Managing a mini hold in the opening minutes of the first quarter, San Jose forced the VooDoo to attempt a field goal which was good giving New Orleans the early lead 3-0. That lead was short-lived as SaberCat quarterback Mark Grieb found veteran James Roe for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead. The next VooDoo drive was cut short as San Jose DB Andre Jones picked off a Kurt Rocco pass romping into the end zone for a 14-3. As the first quarter began to wind down, San Jose held New Orleans on fourth down and the SaberCats had exactly the start they wanted. With 37 seconds left in the quarter Samora Goodson romped into the end zone to extend the San Jose lead. 20-3. Quarterback Mark Grieb was spot on in the first quarter against a team who leads the league in turnover differential.
New Orleans opened the second quarter with a touchdown pulling within 10 points of San Jose 20-10. Minutes later, a Fred Williams catch in the end zone was called incomplete and out came the red flag without hesitation. The ruling on the field was confirmed, a ruling that looked to be totally outrageous. From every angle Williams had control of the ball and should have had the touchdown. What goes around comes around and with the help of a pass interference penalty; Fred Williams had his touchdown extending San Jose’s lead to 27-10. At 5:04 in the second quarter, Fred Williams picked off a Rocco pass in the end zone and the SaberCats had yet another turnover. A few plays later, the VooDoo tasted their first pick off an ill-advised throw by Mark Grieb and with 2:21 left in the half, New Orleans quarterback Rocco threw a bomb downfield for the touchdown. The VooDoo was now trailing by the score of 27-17. With 27 seconds left in the half, San Jose went for it on fourth down and ten. Again the incomparable Fred Williams was there for the catch, the six points and a 34-17 lead. With two ticks left on the clock New Orleans would find the end zone and the score was 34-24 as both teams headed for the locker room. San Jose would open the second half with the ball.
New Orleans came up with their first stop of the game as the third quarter got underway. Looking at a fourth down, the VooDoo would attempt a long field goal that was blocked by San Jose and taken into the end zone by Joe Sykes. The SaberCats lead was now 41-24. As the quarter wore on it became evident that the San Jose defense was wearing down Kurt Rocco who began throwing some very ugly passes.
The fourth quarter got underway with San Jose hanging onto the 41-24 lead. New Orleans trimmed the deficit with a quick strike now only trailing 41-31. San Jose went right back to work as Grieb found Samora Goodson for the touchdown and a 48-31 lead. The VooDoo’s next drive was stalled when San Jose intercepted the ball and went to work on the New Orleans 10 yard line. Once again Fred Williams made a great catch, flying over the wall maintaining possession and giving San Jose a nice cushion 55-31 with 7:55 left in the game; that would be the final.
San Jose’s record now stands at 11-6 and they will now have to wait and see the results of the Chicago and Spokane games being played on Sunday. Both teams have extremely tough games with Chicago taking on the Talons and Spokane playing Philadelphia.
Head Coach Darren Arbet could not have been more pleased with the entire team in Saturday night’s game. The defense stepped up big time and the offense was unrelenting. “We got Andre (Jones) and Mervin (Brookins) back which is huge for us. Our defensive line was also putting a lot of pressure on their quarterback and when you’ve got that combination it’s tough to go against.” he said.
Fred Williams had a monster game hauling in touchdown after touchdown. His consistency continues to improve in practice and now he has taken it out on the field. “We went out and executed. We played it as a unit and took it one play at a time. Our goal was basically to come out here and get a victory and that’s exactly what we did,” he said.
The final game of the regular season for San Jose will be played at HP Pavilion on July 14th when they take on the Iowa Barnstormers. Kickoff is at 7:30.
Update: With both Chicago and Spokane losing this weekend, the San Jose SaberCats are assured of a playoff spot. Their win this past weekend catapulted them back into the post-season for the first time since the 2008 season.
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