Thunder Have Erratic Night on Special Teams, Lose to Arizona 69-42
Saturday June 13, 2015
PORTLAND – WR/KR Duane Brooks found the end-zone for a third successive week, running back a second quarter kickoff 55 yards for his sixth kick return touchdown of the season, but his contributions were not enough to prevent the Thunder from losing a 69 to 42 decision in front of 9,435 fans at the Moda Center Friday Night.
Brooks now sits one kick return touchdown shy of the Arena Football League Record of seven, last reached by Antonio Chatman of the Chicago Rush in 2003. His performance however was overshadowed by the two, first quarter kick return touchdowns scored by Arizona WR/KR AJ Cruz. Cruz ran back the opening kickoff 48 yards for a score, in addition to a 57 yarder at the 2:48 mark of the same frame.
“On special teams, we had a couple glitches,” stated head coach Mike Hohensee when he addressed the media following the loss. “We gave up two kickoff returns for touchdowns. We’ve been better than that.”
Despite Cruz’s production, the Thunder entered the second quarter with only a six point deficit to overturn. That second quarter ended up being a turbulent one, and saw Portland surrender four touchdowns, giving the three-time defending ArenaBowl Champions a 48-21 halftime lead.
“Defensively, we’re a work in progress,” Hohensee continued. “We had yet another new combination in the secondary (due to injuries), but the thing that I liked the most about our team tonight was that they fought to the end. We battled. That excites me as we venture into these next two weeks against Spokane and Las Vegas, the teams we are really fighting for playoff positions with.”
And fight they did, with Portland matching Arizona’s second half offensive production, both in points (21) and net yardage (ARI:110, PDX 106).
Former Rattler Jared Perry led all receivers with a nine catch, 150 yard, four touchdown performance against his former club. Brooks added six receptions for 68 yards and another TD receiving, totaling a game high of 216 yards, all-purpose.
Arizona QB Nick Davila completed 13 of his 18 passes, for 146 yards and four scores in his second start since returning from a foot injury that had kept the two-time AFL MVP out of action since Week 5. Thunder QB Kyle Rowley was nine of 20 passing, for 94 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions before making way for backup Alex Carder in the second half. Carder finished the night eight of 16, for 137 yards, three scores, and one pick.
Prior to the game, a moment of silence was observed for Donna Harris, the mother of Thunder Head Coach Mike Hohensee. The 71 year old Harris passed away early Friday morning at St. Jude’s Hospital in Fullerton, California. Hohensee was able to spend several days with his family and mother prior to her passing, and will be attending the funeral service in southern California later this week.
The Thunder look to get back in the win column next Sunday evening at the Moda Center when they play host to division rival, the Spokane Shock. Kickoff is set for 7pm, with national coverage on ESPN2 beginning at that time.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- PDX WR Jared Perry
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- ARI DB Jeremy Kellem
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME- ARI WR/KR AJ Cruz
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME- PDX Jared Perry 9 yd TD Catch in First Quarter
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME- PDX Duane Brooks 55 yd KRTD in Second Quarter
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
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