Thunder smack KISS, 44-31
Sunday July 13, 2014
Magic Number Now One For National Conference Fourth Seed
PORTLAND, Ore. – For three quarters, the 5-11 Portland Thunder and 3-13 Los Angeles KISS was a back-and-forth affair. In the fourth quarter, the Thunder defense took over the game, battering KISS quarterback Aaron Garcia and forcing turnover after turnover en route to a 44-24 lead before allowing a late Los Angeles score for a 44-31 win.
The Thunder got off on the right foot on defense early, as defensive back Varmah Sonie picked off two first-half passes and the team closed out the first half with a Dwight McLean-forced fumble that Marquis Jackson scooped up and returned into field goal range. The Thunder capitalized on the turnover by hitting a field goal just before the half to take a 23-21 halftime lead.
The offense wasn’t short of playmakers, either, with Jamar Howard catching 10 passes for 126 yards and 1 touchdown, while Douglas McNeil III picked up 9 receptions for 94 yards and three touchdowns of his own. Darron Thomas added a rushing touchdown early in the game.
The Thunder defense, though, was the story of the night. They picked off four passes and recovered two fumbles, including a recovery in the end zone as K.C. Obi obliterated Garcia in the end zone, sending the ball flying to the corner of the promised land where Bryce Peila corralled it. It was Peila’s second turnover of the game, as he also picked off a Garcia pass early.
The defensive line did its part, too. Donte Paige-Moss tipped several passes from the MAC linebacker position, causing a few interceptions. K.C. Obi forced the fumble in the end zone. Antron Dillon crushed Garcia in the game’s final minute on fourth down to end any hope for the KISS. Newcomer Marquis Jackson harassed Garcia on nearly every snap he was in.
The defense’s best game of the year couldn’t have come at a better time.
The win means a likely playoff spot for the Thunder, who just need one win or one Los Angeles loss to clinch the final playoff spot. If they make it into the playoffs, they’ll get a preview of their foe this week, as the Thunder travel to Arizona to take on the Rattlers on July 20 at 3 p.m. PDT. For all the latest news and discussion on the Portland Thunder, follow the team on Facebook (facebook.com/PDXThunder), Twitter and Instagram (@PDXThunder).
Russell Offensive Player of the Game: WR Jamar Howard
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: JLB Bryce Peila
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: WR Douglas McNeil III
Cutters Catch of the Game: DB Varmah Sonie’s first INT off the tip from DB Eric Crocker
AFL Highlight of the Game: KC Obi sack-fumble, Bryce Peila recovery for a touchdown
About the Portland Thunder
The Portland Thunder are a professional arena football team of the Arena Football League from Portland, Oregon, USA. They play their home games at the Moda Center. 2014 marks the franchise’s first season.
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