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Winning One Quarter Just Won't Do

Manny Nunez
Monday June 27, 2016


Three weeks ago, KISS fans had their hearts broken after a botched field goal attempt to win the game not only cost them a victory, but it slowed down their chances at earning a top four seed and be over .500 this late in the season for the first time in their short existence. A split in one of the more important road trips against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay pitted them a game and a half behind Cleveland for the fourth seed. The game against Arizona wasn’t really a must win to stay alive in the race, but it would make things so much easier for the KISS if they could somehow pull off a rare win against a team game in and game out has always had the KISS number.

At first it all seemed lost as usual when Los Angeles found themselves down more than 3 scores. Dropped passes, bad reads, and everything in between found the KISS down 25 in a matter of a quarter and a half. The boo birds came around near halftime wondering if this would be another typical KISS game where after one half it would all be said and done.

Somehow, the KISS figured out the Rattlers in just a quarter. Pete Thomas and Donovan Morgan were playing long ball, where two of his three total touchdown catches went for more than 40 yards. The KISS defense caught Nick Davila off guard and got themselves a much needed pick and a big stop that propelled a monumental 20 point comeback that saw the team somehow down just one going into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it was a quarter worth remembering, as they eventually became the KISS of the old in the final 15 minutes. It all came down to a scoreless fourth quarter as a pair of interceptions that put the Ratters back in control, losing 64-49.

“It was a very tough loss, but we were competitive,” KISS head coach Omarr Smith said. “We still have to get better at all aspects of the ball, and making mistakes can’t happen. I still believe in our guys but it is a process.”

Throughout the season, it has been difficult to read this KISS team with how they have been winning and losing their games. Another loss was tallied against a team that is above .500 (1-7 overall) and have lost each of those games by an average of about 15 points per game. On the other end, wins against teams under .500 (4-0 overall) have been monumental, managing to put up solid numbers and averaging a 27 point margin of victory. The KISS team are much different than they have been over the last two years, but one can argue that they have not become a bit unpredictable about the kind of game they will put on the field.

“Our team is right now like building a house,” Smith said. “You first have a foundation, and you have to build that foundation. Our team is definitely making strides, but we are missing some key aspects of our game that slows us down from competing against the elite teams. We certainly are better than we have been in prior weeks, but we are far away from what we want to compete with.”

With Thomas and Morgan doing most of the offensive work, it was a slow production overall from the rest of the receiving core. Morgan was credited for more than half of Thomas’s 291 passing yards, granted two of Morgan’s three touchdown catches were very deep. There were still a number of dropped passes and bad penalties that took away the flow of the game. Instead of getting into their opponent’s heads, they a number of times have beaten themselves up. It showed in the fourth quarter as the two interceptions thrown by Thomas kept the KISS’s backs against the wall instead of having someone else find a way to step up.

This game alone has helped set the tone for the rest of the season, where both teams are fighting for their own supremacy. The Rattlers boosted up their resume in the National Conference to win outright and still hang around with Orlando for the top seed in the league. Los Angeles on the other hand has still some hope left at hosting a home game for the playoffs, with Cleveland and Jacksonville still in sight to take the fourth seed. Both teams are still on the KISS schedule. A win tonight would certainly help, but one of the biggest upsides after a game like this is there is still a lot of hope left in the tank, but winning against some of the more perennial powerhouses if they want to be competitive and make a statement.

“Our game and our style has been everything collectively,” Smith said. “It’s all about talent, coaching, special teams, everything, it all comes together. If that does not happen, we will lose in games like these. Everyone has to be on the same page so that we can all become competitive. We still aren’t there yet.”


 
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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