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Thunder down early, canít complete comeback against San Jose

Saturday May 30, 2015

 PORTLAND- Thunder WR Duane Brooks took back two kickoff returns for touchdowns but it wasn’t enough to derail the undefeated San Jose SaberCats, losing 61-42 at the Moda Center Saturday afternoon.

QB Kyle Rowley struggled in his first start since Week 6, going 9-of-21 for 75 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. He was relieved in the third quarter by backup QB Alex Carder, who joined the Thunder earlier this week, Carder finished the game with 89 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

Thunder DBs Osagie Odiase (14) and De’Mon Glanton (10) each finished with 10+ tackles to lead all defenders in the game.

Despite opening the game with a 9-0 lead, it wasn’t enough to carry the Thunder through to victory.

“We made them better than they were,” said Head Coach Mike Hohensee. “Early in the game, their first two scores, we just broke assignments, we just didn’t run the defense coach called, and gave them easy touchdowns.”

Glanton added, “They don’t make mistakes, they capitalize on what we do wrong.”

Portland opened the game with a forced fumble by DB Matt Pierce on SaberCats returner Reggie Gray which resulted in a safety via a SaberCats recovery in the endzone. With the first offensive possession of the game and 2-0 lead, Kyle Rowley drove Portland down the field and found Jared Perry on a back shoulder throw for 2 yard touchdown, extending the early lead to nine. The reception would be Perry’s fifth consecutive game with a touchdown catch.

The SaberCats responded with 13 points of their own, highlighted by forced fumble of their own kickoff, with DB David Hyland striping Brooks of the ball.

Both sides exchanged touchdowns over the next two possessions before the Thunder turned the ball over on downs at their own 13 to set San Jose up with brilliant field position. An Erik Meyer to WR Reggie Gray touchdown happened three plays later, pushing the SaberCats lead to 11.

On the very next Thunder offensive possession, Rowley would be intercepted by DB Clevan Thomas, allowing the SaberCats to make good on the same connection that would continue to hurt Portland all night, Meyer again to Gray, giving the SaberCats a 33 to 15 lead at the half.
The second half did not start out as the Thunder planned. A quick four and out gave the ball back to the San Jose, and two plays later, Meyer would find Gray would for their fourth touchdown connection of the night, frustrating fans and the Thunder’s secondary.

In an attempt to breathe life back into the Moda Center, WR Duane Brooks would return the ensuing kickoff 54 yards for a touchdown making the score San Jose 40, Portland 22. The return was Brooks’ third kickoff return for a touchdown in four weeks.

The very next offensive set for the SaberCats was met with great resistance by the Thunder defense. LB KC Obi sacked Meyer on a 3rd and short, and was followed up by a diving pass break up by Odiase, giving the Thunder their first defensive stop of the night. However, Rowley would be intercepted by league leader DB Ken Fontenette, giving him his 8th interception on the year.

Glanton recorded his first interception on the season and as a member of the Thunder late in the third quarter. QB Alex Carder replaced Kyle Rowley after that interception, and would hook up with Jared Perry for a 39 yard touchdown pass two plays later, cutting the San Jose lead to 11.

Despite the momentum being on the Thunder’s side, they had no answer for Gray. Reggie would return the ensuing kickoff after Carder’s touchdown 46 yards and then catch a seven yard touchdown pass giving him his fifth touchdown catch of the afternoon, all but finishing off Portland.

Brooks finished the night with a game high 269 all-purpose yards, to go along with his two touchdowns.

The Thunder head south to take on the LA KISS for the third and final time of the 2015 regular season next Sunday, June 7th. Kickoff is set for 3pm.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- San Jose SaberCats WR Reggie Gray
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- San Jose SaberCats DB Ken Fontenette
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME- San Jose SaberCats WR Reggie Gray
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME- Portland Thunder WR V’Keon Lacey’s 21-yd TD catch at 12:05 in the 4th quarter
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME- Portland Thunder WR Duane Brooks’ 1st Kickoff Return for a touchdown.

About the Portland Thunder
The Portland Thunder are back with a BOOM this 2015 AFL Season. Tickets and sponsorships are now available. For more information, email us at info@portlandthunder.com or call 503-773-4235. For all the latest news and discussion on the Portland Thunder, follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@pdxthunder).