Battle Wings steal Vigilantes' victory
A few weeks ago, James Fuller, a coach with the Dallas Vigilantes made promises of change during an interview with me. In the past couple of weeks, it is impossible not to see that his promise was more than fulfilled.
Only a week after the statement was made, Rich Ingold was removed as Dallas’s head coach and replaced by Fuller himself. The Vigilantes also continued to make several position changes, including replacing the massive center, Rico Ochoa. In addition, last week Dallas announced that it had once again acquired Will Pettis. As some may know, Pettis was a key player for the Dallas Desperados and holds several Arena Football League awards.
While Dallas has taken so many steps to turn this season around, one thing that has not changed is their bad luck.
This week the Vigilantes faced the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings, a team that had lost their last six games. There were no motorcycle gangs to lead the players onto the field and no loud band to cheer on Dallas, only two teams competing in front of a hopeful crowd of spectators. The exciting game that soon followed gave fans everything they were craving, aside from a Vigilantes’ victory.
The first half of the game seemed to be very somber. Both teams looked very unenthusiastic and the fans appeared as if they had a hard time getting into the game as well. Touchdowns were traded throughout the two quarters and the Vigilantes went into halftime trailing 27-34.
However, after halftime, the whistle not only started the second half, but a brand new game as well. Dallas took the field with a brand new attitude and immediately scored within the first few seconds of the game. This ignited a competitive spark in Bossier-Shreveport players and the battle began. The fans caught on to the new atmosphere, cheering loudly and occasionally bantering the opponent’s players. Just like that, the American Airlines Center was overflowing with life.
After a touchdown to Matt Fields during the third quarter, the Vigilantes produced a surprise onside kick and recovered the ball. Dallas then took the lead with another touchdown pass to Derek Lee. From that point on, the Battle Wings endured a continuous game of catching up only to fall behind again. It appeared as if Dallas was going to finally get the win that they deserved.
While the Vigilantes were more than capable of controlling the field on offense, one thing they could not control was the clock. Time quickly became Dallas’s worst enemy. The Vigilantes were leading Bossier-Shreveport 69-62 in the final seconds of the game. In an unforeseen turn of events, the Battle Wings scored with no time left on the clock. Instead of kicking the extra point, they decided to press their luck and gamble it all with a two point conversion.
Dallas fans jumped for joy when Bossier’s Gary Cooper failed to complete the pass. The happiness that came so quickly soon diminished as eyes fell upon the yellow flag near the end zone. A pass interference call gave the Battle Wings the momentum they needed to take the game. Cooper’s next pass was completed, robbing the Vigilantes of the victory. The stadium became silent as Dallas fell to the Battle Wings 69-70.
Immediately following the game, fans began to debate the cause of the downfall. Some blame a missed extra point by Mark Lewis, others blame the Vigilantes’ defense for their inability to stop the battle Wings, and a few placde fault in the officiating. There were several questionable pass interference calls as well as a touchdown that was ruled short.
So who is really to blame for the loss? The fault can be found in not one of the reasons, but all of them combined. If the defense had made a few more stops Dallas would not have been put in that position. If Lewis had made the extra point, it would have been a tie game. If the pass interferences weren’t called the game would have resulted in a Vigilantes’ victory.
Lewis’s record has established that he is a worthy kicker for the Vigilantes. The defense did have problems stopping Bossier’s offense but they did not single handedly lose the game. As far as officiating is concerned, there will always be questionable calls and the mark of a great team is being able to overcome those situations.
The real question is, what needs to be done before Dallas faces the Tulsa Talons next week? Collin Drafts showed that he is maturing as a starting quarterback for the Vigilantes. He limited turnovers and controlled ball placement. Drafts will need to continue improving his role and showing consistency throughout the rest of the season.
Derek Lee also started the game strong with several receptions for touchdowns but dropped several key throws in the second half. Lee is a key player for the team and will need to continue to make big plays against the Talons if Dallas is going to break their losing streak.
Troy Mason suffered a torn ACL during the opening kickoff and will most likely not return again this season. This puts a little more pressure on Kenny Henderson as the main kickoff returner, but he should be able to handle it without any problems. Larry Brackins is still on the sidelines with an injured knee and is on a game to game basis. It will definitely benefit the team when he returns, but until he is completely healed, Dallas will need to rely on the offensive weapons they currently possess. Dallas fans are also anxiously awaiting the return of Will Pettis.
In preparation for next weeks game Coach Fuller stated, “We are going to have to continue making some changes. We will need to continue making changes on the D-line and try to find the best fit. Hopefully next week we will have Pettis and a few other players playing both ways on the field.”
The Vigilantes should have a good crowd next week again as they take on their northern neighbors. Dallas continues to attempt to break their streak as they take on the Talons. With the changes that continue to be made, Dallas fans shouldn’t count the Vigilantes out just yet.