SaberCats Defeat Storm 36-27
Friday April 10, 2015
On the opening drive, SaberCats’ newly acquired wide receiver D.J. Stephens thought he had his first touchdown reception as a SaberCat but the play was nullified by a holding penalty on the offensive line. On the ensuing play Darius Reynolds made a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone on fourth down but he was unable to get his feet inbounds and San Jose turned the ball over on downs.
On the ensuing drive, the SaberCats top-ranked defense proved its worth, as they forced a Storm fourth down from the seven yard line. On fourth down, defensive end Rodney Fritz stripped Storm quarterback Jason Boltus as Jason Stewart grabbed the ball in the air for an interception, the first on the season for the 2014 AFL Defensive Player of the Year. Stewart continued to be effective, as he forced a safety to end the first half as well.
Leading the defensive front, Fritz had a forced fumble and two sacks, tied for the game-high for San Jose. Defensive end Donte Paige-Moss also had two sacks and forced a fumble that was recovered by David Hyland, his second of the year.
Acquired early this week, Stephens got on the board in the 2nd quarter with a 16-yard touchdown reception as he hauled in the pass while flying over the boards to give San Jose a 14-0 lead. Stephens made a miraculous 31-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, caressing the ball against his leg while falling down to pull in the catch. Stephens led the SaberCats with six receptions for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Getting on the board, Tampa Bay cut the SaberCat lead to 14-7 with a 19-yard touchdown reception by Kendrick Ings. Ings also hauled in a nine-yard reception in the fourth quarter to cut the San Jose lead to 36-13. Ings finished with a game-high eight receptions for 100 yards and three touchdowns
After a Reynolds 16-yard reception brought the SaberCats down to the two yard line, Meyer was able to take in the quarterback sneak for a touchdown to extend the San Jose lead to 21-7 in the second quarter. While Reggie Gray continues to lead San Jose in receiving, Reynolds proved why he was an All-Arena selection last season with the Iowa Barnstormers. Reynolds finished with six receptions for 64 yards.
San Jose quarterback Erik Meyer did just enough on offense to pull out the third straight victory for the SaberCats. Meyer finished with 179 yards passing two touchdowns on 17-of-32 completions.
A crowning achievement for any AFL receiver, T.T. Toliver caught a 9-yard pass in the first half for his 1,000th reception. Toliver becomes the fourth player in league history to reach the milestone. Toliver finished with six receptions for 84 yards and hauled in a touchdown reception in the final minute of regulation.
San Jose held a 24-7 halftime lead after a 16-yard Nich Pertuit field goal. The seven points surrendered was the lowest total in a half for the SaberCats this season.
For the third consecutive game, defensive back Vigil Gray grabbed an interception; on this instance he took away a Storm touchdown in the end zone. Gray finished with five tackles, an interception and his impact has been vital for San Jose’s ferocious defensive attack.
Leading San Jose in tackles last season, defensive back Ken Fontenette was all over the field against Tampa Bay. Fontenette finished with a team-high eight tackles, flying around the field for the top-ranked SaberCats’ secondary.
On a 2nd and goal from the 17-yard line late in the third quarter, Boltus was rolled up on by his center and Stewart in an ugly looking play. Boltus was able to recover, finishing with 21-of-39 passes completed for 260 yards and four touchdowns.
With the win, the SaberCats become the first AFL team in 2015 to start 3-0 and will head to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on April 17th.
ABOUT THE SAN JOSE SABERCATS
The ArenaBowl XVI, XVIII and XXI champion San Jose SaberCats finished their 19th season in the AFL with a Pacific Division Title after making their return in 2011. Fans and sponsors can go to thesanjosesabercats.com or call 408-673-3400 to sign up to receive the latest news and updates about the SaberCats, as well as to purchase 2015 season tickets. Make sure to follow the SaberCats on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news on the team.