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Thunder drops heartbreaker on last play, falls to Las Vegas 48-46

Sunday June 28, 2015

 LAS VEGAS – Thunder fullback John Martinez had a career game, scoring four rushing touchdowns on the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a last second, one yard touchdown run by Las Vegas back-up QB Dennis Havrilla from breaking Portland’s hearts, as the Outlaws stole the victory 48-46 as time expired at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

With a 1st & Goal from the Thunder (3-10, 1-3) one yard line, and only :03 seconds left on the clock, Havrilla, who was starting his first game of the season, replacing Las Vegas’ injured starter JJ Raterink, took a keeper in through two of his linemen to provide the Outlaws (5-8, 3-1) with the last second win.

Martinez, who came into the night with six rushing touchdowns on the year, ran seven times, for nine yards, and those four scores.

The last minute Outlaws drive was set up in a puzzling fashion. An interception at the 1:00 minute warning from former Outlaw DB Dwight McLean provided the Thunder with an opportunity to close out the game on offense. Two plays later, Portland, up four, on their own 12 yard line, with :49 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, fed Martinez the ball to help run down the clock. A two yard rush by the former USC Trojan ensued, with the ball coming loose at the end of the play. Ruled down by contact, the play was reviewed by officials for over four minutes, eventually ending with the call on the field being overturned, and setting Las Vegas up for the winning drive.

“It was only controversial because we made it controversial,” head coach Mike Hohensee stated, when asked about reversal. “We had a chance to put this one away, and we didn’t execute.”

The game was defined the back and forth nature of the scoring, with the Thunder and Outlaws trading scores throughout the entirety of the game, racking up 14 separate lead changes.

“That’s Arena Football. Back and forth. You have got to keep scoring,” Thunder QB Kyle Rowley said. “They made a play there at the end.”

Rowley, returning to the starting role after coming off the bench for last week’s game against Spokane, was 16 of 27 passing, for 220 yards and three touchdowns through the air.

“I felt like we were clicking on offense. I thought we moved the ball well. We were scoring on one play (drives),” Rowley continued. “Everyone has to focus on playing smart when we have a lead. Maybe they’re (Las Vegas) not on the one yard line (at the end) if we keep our composure.”
A part of the offense’s positive play was down to the return of wide receiver V’Keon Lacey. After missing the majority of the last two games due to injury, Lacey provided a two touchdown performance, from six catches for 77 yards. WR Jared Perry led all receivers with 109 yards, from six catches, adding a score of his own.

The Outlaws’ Havrilla ended the afternoon 21 of 34, for 214 yards, with four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The Thunder will have a bye next week, before returning to Moda Center on Saturday, July 11th against the Jacksonville Sharks. Kickoff is set for 7pm.

About the Portland Thunder
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