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Thunder drop OT nail-biter in San Jose 55-49

Sunday July 19, 2015

SAN JOSE – Thunder QB Kyle Rowley was unable to find a receiver on a 4th-and-2 play from the SaberCats 5 yard line with 4:10 left in overtime, allowing San Jose to squeeze out a 55-49 victory over Portland in front of 9,211 in attendance at the SAP Center Saturday night.


The Thunder (4-11, 1-4) found themselves tied at 49 against the AFL’s best, San Jose (15-1, 6-0), with 00:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, when a Nich Pertuit field goal attempt was blocked by Portland defensive lineman Frank Trotter, forcing the game into the extra frame.


The overtime session was the first in franchise history for Portland.


“It was a great effort by our team, no doubt,” head coach Mike Hohensee stated. “That’s a great football team, the SaberCats. They’re number one in the League for a reason.”

The Thunder led by 20 at two different points of the first half, and were the first team to shut out San Jose in the first quarter all season. Portland saw their lead dwindle, however, through three consecutive SaberCat scores sandwiched around the halftime whistle.


“We did give a little away in this game,” Hohensee continued. “But the good thing for us is that we know. Now we know what we can do. If we get into these playoffs, we’ll probably end up back here (San Jose), and I know we’ll come back with the same energy.”


Following a four yard pitch and catch from San Jose QB Erik Meyer to WR Ben Nelson that opened the scoring in overtime, Pertuit hit the left upright, opening the door for the Thunder to win the game on their ensuing overtime possession. Portland faced a 4th-and-1 play from their own 14 early in the drive, when Rowley kept the Thunder’s OT hopes alive by finding a streaking WR/KR Duane Brooks on a crossing route for five yards.


On the next play, Rowley hit WR Jared Perry for a gain of 18, setting the Thunder up with good field position and a new set of downs. Rowley went back to Perry on first down from the San Jose 13 yard line, only for Perry to drop the tying score after colliding with the wall in the left corner of the end-zone. A short sideline route was completed on second down, placing the Thunder at the San Jose five yard line, but that is as close as Portland would get to knocking off the 2015 Pacific Division Champions.


Rowley hit a season high for passing attempts, finishing the evening 28/50, for 290 yards and six touchdowns, with two interceptions. His counterpart, Meyer, finished 34/50, for 284 yards and eight scores.


Perry led all receivers with 156 yards, from 13 catches that included two scores, while SaberCats wide-out Reggie Gray broke San Jose franchise, single-season records for catches and touchdown receptions with his 14 catch, four touchdown performance.


The Portland defense was formidable all night, forcing five total stops of the AFL’s number one scoring offense. DB De’Mon Glanton led the Thunder with 10 tackles, and caused the fumble that set Portland up for the second of three unanswered first quarter touchdowns. The Portland front four tallied four sacks on night, with KC Obi (2), Marquis Jackson (1), and Dexter Davis (1), all getting to Meyer in the backfield.


The Thunder head to Washington next Saturday, facing division rival, the Spokane Shock, on July 25th. Kickoff is set for 7pm.


Offensive Player of the Game: SJS WR Reggie Gray

Defensive Player of the Game: SJS DB Ken Fontenette

Playmaker of the Game: SJS WR Reggie Gray

Catch of the Game: PDX WR V'Keon Lacey 4th QT over the boards 

Highlight of the Game: SJS WR Reggie Gray's franchise record breaking 4th QT TD  


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