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Blaze defense batters Barnstormers in 43-34 victory

Sunday May 19, 2013

 Defense Shuts Down Raterink, Barnstormers

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Blaze (4-4) defense provided a lockdown effort in a 43-34 victory over the Iowa Barnstormers (4-5) on Saturday night. The unit forced four turnovers on the night, holding the Barnstormers to just 150 yards in total offense.

Defensive Back Maurice Leggett posted two interceptions on the night, gaining 19 yards on returns. Defensive end Caesar Rayford notched two sacks while adding one pass breakup and a forced fumble. Safety David Hyland led all defenders with six total tackles on the evening, adding six pass breakups.

On the third play of Iowa’s opening drive, Leggett intercepted quarterback J.J. Raterink and raced 19 yards to the end zone, weaving through defenders before crossing the goal line. Iowa responded with a seven-yard scoring toss from Raterink to wide receiver Jesse Schmidt to tie the game early.

The Barnstormers managed to take the lead in the second frame, as Raterink found wide receiver Marcus Harris in the end zone from 16 yards out. Utah quickly answered just two plays later, as Grady launched a 34-yard touchdown to wide receiver Mario Urrutia.

The two teams traded scores to close out the first half, as Raterink connected with Darius Reynolds on a nine-yard score before Blaze wide receiver Chase Deadder rushed into the end zone from a yard out with only a second remaining on the clock. A missed point after attempt gave the Barnstormers a 21-20 advantage at the midway point.

Utah’s defense caught fire in the second half, putting Raterink under constant duress while pummeling the Barnstormers’ protection. On the opening drive of the third quarter, Raterink was sacked twice before pressure forced him to fumble the ball on fourth-down. Fullback Ben Stallings pounded it into the end zone from a yard out on the next play from scrimmage, giving the Blaze a 27-21 advantage with 10:01 remaining in the third.

The Blaze added to the lead on the following possession, as the defense again harassed Raterink. Following three straight incompletions, Raterink was sacked in the back of the end zone by defensive end Caesar Rayford, resulting in a safety and a 29-21 Utah lead.

Iowa found the end zone for the first time in the second half on the ensuing possession, as linebacker John Mohring returned an interception 38 yards to the end zone. Utah quickly countered, as Grady hit Mario Urrutia for a deep 32-yard touchdown completion to put the Blaze on top, 36-28.

The Barnstormers opened the scoring in the game’s final frame, as Raterink completed a 24-yard touchdown throw to Harris to inch within two points of tying the game. The Blaze executed a methodical 13-play, 49-yard drive on the ensuing possession, running 7:35 off the clock. Urrutia capped off the drive, as he secured the catch before vaulting over the dasher board wall for a seven-yard scoring reception.

Maurice Leggett silenced the Barnstormers for good on the ensuing drive, as he intercepted Raterink with 39 seconds remaining on the clock to seal the victory.

Utah travels in Week 10 to take on the San Jose SaberCats on Saturday, May 25 at the HP Pavilion Arena in the first of a three-game road trip.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Utah Blaze wide receiver Mario Urrutia

RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Utah Blaze defensive end Caesar Rayford

J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Utah Blaze defensive back Maurice Leggett

CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
Utah Blaze wide receiver Mario Urrutia’s over-the-wall touchdown reception (5:22 in the 4th Quarter)

AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Utah Blaze defensive back Al Phillips hit on kickoff (9:11 in 3rd Quarter)

ABOUT THE BLAZE
The Utah Blaze (4-4) travel to take on the San Jose SaberCats on Saturday, May 25. Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/utahblaze), Twitter (@UTBLAZE) and Instagram (@UtahBlaze), or head to UTBlaze.com for all the latest news!