When The LA KISS spilled the milk
The game between Orlando and Los Angeles reminded me of a playful story I once heard as a kid. Here is a man who carried six gallons of milk across town. While he was carrying the milk, he was planning on selling it, hoping to make a lot of money in order to help for his family, or buy the things he needed. The only problem was he needed to secure his milk. He therefore dropped all of his milk, and all of his chances at making money.
It came to mind when Los Angeles was setting up for a potentially game winning field goal. After Mark Lewis missed the game leading extra point after the Predators scored the game tying touchdown with just seconds left, the KISS were already thinking ahead. A made field goal after the ensuing kickoff would put them at 5-4, and just a game and a half back behind Arizona for the top spot in the National Conference. A missed field goal would just mean overtime, hoping to have another chance at a crack at a win. Everyone inside Honda Center had that in mind.
And then they spilled the milk.
A high snap to set up for the 51-yard field goal instead sails over Danny Southwick’s head, finding its way to the back of the end zone. Just like in the NFL, if the ball ends up in the back of the end zone and the offensive team had the ball, a safety is awarded to the opposing team. In the AFL, any ball that hits off the wall is considered out of bounds. Orlando escaped. Los Angeles walked out of that arena with the most difficult loss in their team’s history.
“It’s disappointing,” is all head coach Omarr Smith could say. And it certainly was.
This loss truly hurts if you are an LA KISS fan. For the last two years they have been the doormat of the league, and this year with so many changes they have become somewhat relevant. Sure they are still winless against teams above .500 (0-5 overall), but many of their recent games against teams like Orlando (twice) and Arizona have been much closer than most would have thought.
They have also done all this so far with yet another horrific stretch to their season, losing quarterback Nathan Stanley a few weeks ago with no timetable for his return. Rookie Pete Thomas did all that he could in a game where everyone in an LA KISS uniform nearly gave it their all. Going 21-for-39 with six touchdowns, four to Donovan Morgan, he took an offense as far as they could against the Predators and helped them compete for something.
But if it was one part of the game that looked good, it was another that brought the team back down to earth. Back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns by Brandon Thompkins and the Predators put the special teams in check. The late safety topped it all off.
“This game just came down to details, and we missed a lot of them,” Thomas said. “We were right there to win the game, but it was the little stuff that we all missed that gave us the win, and it does hurt knowing that we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position.”
So instead of talking about how they could have been above .500 this late for the first time this late in any season, they now are 4-5 and are in the bottom four of the league. Instead of potentially becoming a half game behind the Rattlers for the top spot in the National Conference, they now have put themselves under a bit more pressure if they want themselves back in the top four to snag a home game during the postseason. So where do they go from here? How do they come back from a game like this?
Simply put, you just recover.
Los Angeles has everything in their favor regardless of how this game had turned out. Three of their final seven games are against Philadelphia, Arizona, and Cleveland, which are teams that sit amongst the top four. Three other games have the lowly Tampa Bay Storm twice and Portland Steel on their schedule. While it is a small league with just eight teams this year, every game this late in the year begins to matter as the seeding will begin to take shape. The KISS have been in this kind of position before by controlling their own destiny and didn’t respond to the calling. This year can be different, but they have to be on the winning side of the games that matter now. It all starts this Saturday.