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Dragons Rewrite History in Must-Win Situation

Padraic Meehan
Sunday July 8, 2001


If there was ever a must-win situation, this was it. The Dragons were in the scenario an athlete prays for; they controlled their own destiny. They were playing the current division leader for a piece of their own crown and they easily met the challenge. When the dust settled New York snuffed Carolina 99-68, the kind of score you would expect from a pinball machine, and broke some records while they were at it.

Although struggling to reach the playoffs entering the game, New York still had a chance of hosting a home playoff game should they clinch the division. It took a little help from the Toronto Phantoms, but New York’s performance on Friday changed the Eastern division race tremendously. Buffalo, New York, Toronto, and Carolina all hold 6-6 records, but Toronto is the current division leader because they defeated New York on both occasions this season. “It’s the way it should be,” said head coach John Gregory, “everybody tries to get parody in the league and doggone it, there is parity. It gives coaches gray hairs, but it’s great for the fans.” Aaron Garcia smiled “I’ve been here seven years and this is the most parity I’ve ever seen, anyone can beat anyone at any time.”

When John Gregory was asked about the records set on Saturday, he chuckled “Which one?” Indeed, fans needed their toes to count all the benchmarks they set. QB Aaron Garcia set the record for touchdown passes in a game with 11, and brought himself to within three of shattering his own record of touchdown passes in a season with 89. New York and Carolina combined for points in a game with 167, burying the record set last season when the New England Sea Wolves and San Jose SaberCats had 161 points in Anthony Derricks’s four TD-return performance. Kevin Swayne tied the record for single-game touchdown receptions with seven, and the Dragons broke the record for single game score for a team with 99. Kicker Clay Rush also raised the bar at his position with 19 points in a single game. “At halftime when I had seven [touchdown passes], it was definitely in the back of my mind, and I tried to keep it there” said Garcia.

The play of the defense led by DS Andre Goines and OL/DL Robert Stewart put New York over the top. Stewart had two sacks, one for a safety against the league’s second best offensive line. “In the important part of the ballgame, I thought our defense played very well,” said Gregory.

“Early in the season there were a lot of broken down plays,” said Goines, “but now we’re doing a better job of staying with our recievers.”

New York still faces their biggest challenge next week when they travel to America West Arena AKA “The Snakepit,” former home to Dragons standouts Garcia and Goines, to take on the Arizona Rattlers. It is considered by most to be the toughest arena in the league. “It truly is a Rattlesnake’s nest,” said Gregory, “but at the end of the year you really want to play your best football and I still think the best is yet to come.”

Garcia, who began his career with the Rattlers in 1995, said “America West Arena is tough, but the way we’re playing right now, it doesn’t matter who we play.”


 
Padraic Meehan was a writer for ArenaFan Online from 2000 to 2001.
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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