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Offensive Woes Continue With Loss To SaberCats

Manny Nunez
Monday April 28, 2014


The Los Angeles KISS needed a rebound game with the losses they have been going through.  On the road against the Iowa Barnstormers last week, nothing went right.  Quarterback J.J. Raterink was still out of sync, throwing three of the five interceptions as a team. Donovan Morgan was quiet on the stat sheet. Penalty yards also kept tallying up too, feeding chances for the Barnstormers which propelled them to win 31-12.  So what better way than to come back to the Honda Center in front of their own crowd for two straight home games.

 
It is unfortunate though, that the San Jose SaberCats had to visit the KISS first.  A team that has been around for nearly 20 years, they were once a team that had talked about being a dynasty, appearing in four ArenaBowls during the 2000 decade, winning three of them.  They aren't the same team as before, but their success still lives on the field with their high octane offense, something that the KISS have been able to contain in four of five games.
 
A sloppy second half and missed extra points was the difference maker as San Jose cruised to a 48-32 victory.  
 
“You just can't turn the ball over three times in the second half,” KISS head coach Bob McMillen said.  “We did all that we could the entire game except for limiting the turnovers.  Our quarterback was efficient, but you just can't give the ball away and expect to win.”
 
San Jose came in hungry losing three of its last four games.  It didn't give Raterink any headaches, but his execution seemed to slip away in the second half.  Aside from his thrown interceptions, most of his throws in the second half were well off target.  
 
“We felt like they might have done some things to put us under pressure in the second half,” Raterink said.  “Our defense was able to make some important stops when they needed to, but we certainly didn't help ourselves responding.”
 
“At the end of the day, we cannot make mistakes,” wide receiver Samie Parker said.  “We made a lot of repetitions on certain drives, and the San Jose defense eventually caught on.”
 
Kicker Kenny Spencer failed to make any of his extra points going 0-for-3.  McMillan axed him the rest of the game, and there is a good chance there will be a change come next Sunday in special teams.  
 
“Our kicker was atrocious,” McMillan said.  “Starting next week, we will invite seven kickers to fill in Spencer's spot.  Your job is to put the ball in the uprights, and missing three extra points is uncalled for.”
 
The only bright spot came from its defense, making stops as they should have.  McMillen is very pleased with what the other side of the ball has done, but he wants that kind of success to transfer.  Minus the fact that the defensive line failed to take down Russ Michna, the KISS was able to hold an opponent to under 50 points for the fifth time in their six games.  
 
“Holding a team to under 50 points is a tough thing to do in the Arena League,” Parker said. “It allows us to go back out there and do the job that we do.  All we need now is just to respond.”
 
Michna finished 26-for-40 with six touchdowns, four of them to Rod Harper.  Raterink managed to perform on the stat sheet with 305 passing yards and three touchdowns.  Donovan Morgan and Markee White ended with over 100 yards receiving each, while Parker led the team with two receiving touchdowns.  
 
The KISS offense had a strong showing in the first half, being able to slowly develop their passing game that had lacked form a week ago.  Both teams were slow to start in the first quarter, but a Raterink pass to Morgan for 25 yards three minutes into the second quarter reignited both offenses.  The touchdown cut the SaberCat lead to 14-12.  Los Angeles had ways in trying to stop San Jose, but carrying over from the last game small mistakes awarded their counterpart with scoring chances.  Michna found Doug Williams for a nine-yard touchdown after an offsides call allowed a free play, extending their lead.  
 
On a 4th down and long play with less than a minute left in the first half, Michna found Harper in the back of the end zone just over the boards.  McMillan challenged the play disputing that Harper failed to retain possession.  This was also stemmed from yet another offsides call.  He failed to win the challenge, giving the SaberCats a 27-18 advantage at halftime.  
 
Then things started going south.  Raterink had thrown two passes way of his target, the second leading to an interception in the corner of the endzone by Clevan Thomas.  Three plays later, Harper dove in for the ball on a 16-yard touchdown in front of the goal line, extending their lead up 34-18.  Raterink responded after back-to-back turnovers with a four-yard TD carry on an 11-play drive.  He took it himself to convert for two, putting LA back in the game down eight to close out the third period.  
 
Another interception off a high pass to Parker capped the victory for the SaberCats after Michna found lineman Rich Ranglin wide open pushing the lead up 22 points with three minutes remaining.  
 
If the KISS are looking to become contenders, the road does not get easier from here.  The Spokane Shock arrive next Sunday before they head off for road games against the undefeated Cleveland Gladiators and Pittsburgh Power.  
 
“I told my guys in the locker after the game to look in the mirror and ask if they did their job tonight,” McMillan said.  “Ask yourself if you really played hard in the second half.”


 
Manny Nunez is a freelance writer who resides in Los Angeles. He has been an arena football fan since 1996 while living in Phoenix, dedicated to the Arizona Rattlers. Although he lives in Southern California, he still reps his Arizona teams. He is also a beat writer for the Phoenix Coyotes for InsideHockey.com.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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