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Thunder Takes Care of Business, Defeats Outlaws 64-33

Sunday August 2, 2015

 Portland Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive with Win on Record Breaking Night

PORTLAND – On a record breaking night, the Portland Thunder have kept their National Conference Playoff hopes alive with a 64 to 33 win over the Las Vegas Outlaws in their 2015 home finale, in front of 14,055 on ‘Fan Appreciation Night’ at Moda Center Saturday evening.

The attendance breaks the Portland Arena Football record of 12,848 set in last season’s home finale on July 26, 2014.

WR/KR Duane Brooks scored his AFL-record eighth kickoff return touchdown in the win, surpassing both Lamont Cooper and Antonio Chatman’s record of seven kickoff return touchdowns in a single season, originally set in 2000, and 2003 respectively.

“Number 8 is a surreal feeling,” Brooks stated after the Thunder’s fifth home win in 2015. “Special Teams Coach Lee Johnson has done a brilliant job getting us prepared week in and week out, and I have guys around me on the kickoff team that take pride in their work. They run hard every time, they block hard every time, and that makes things happen, obviously.”

The 56 yard return on the opening kickoff of the second half was just one of many highlights in the Thunder’s home finale.

Portland took a 15-6 lead in the first quarter through two QB Kyle Rowley touchdown passes, one each to WR Jared Perry and WR V’Keon Lacey. Sandwiched between those scores was an AFL rarity. A botched snap and hold by the Outlaws on the point-after attempt following their opening score left Las Vegas kicker Ernesto Lacayo scrambling to recover the football in the backfield. Thunder DB De’Mon Glanton pounced on the loose ball, and returned it for a two point defensive conversion.

After Las Vegas QB Dennis Havrilla hit WR Clinton Solomon for a 12 yard score to begin the second quarter, and bring the Outlaws within two points, the Thunder’s highlight reel night continued. On the first play of the ensuing Portland drive, Rowley hit Lacey on a short pass into the right flat. The rather innocuous pitch and catch turned into the Cutters “Catch of the Game”, with Lacey making six Las Vegas defenders miss on a 48 yard touchdown catch and run.

Lacey would find the end-zone again just over nine minutes later, taking the score to 29-20, and starting a run of four straight scores for Portland. On Las Vegas’ first play following the Lacey touchdown, Havrilla’s pass was deflected by DL Frank Trotter, forcing the ball into the outstretched arms of JLB Bryce Peila, who would run the interception back eight yards for the touchdown. Again on the Outlaws’ first offensive play, this time following Peila’s touchdown, the Thunder would intercept Havrilla.

Dennis’ downfield effort was short of its mark, and fell right to DB Varmah Sonie. Three plays later, Rowley would again find Lacey, this time for a 27 yard touchdown strike, and the Thunder’s third touchdown in two minutes and thirty-six seconds.

The fourth successive score in the sequence was Brooks’ record breaking runback. On the opening kickoff of the second half, Brooks broke through the scrum around the Portland 18 yard line, and carried two Outlaw defenders while stretching into the end-zone. The touchdown gave the Thunder a 30 point cushion, and a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night.

Brooks finished the evening with 112 yards from three returns, to go along with two catches, for 15 yards. Lacey led all receivers with seven catches, for 125 yards, and four scores, while Perry caught five passes, for 49 yards, and two scores. Both Lacey and Perry are now tied with 28 touchdowns receiving on the season, surpassing Eric Rogers’ franchise record of 27 set last year.

Rowley ended the night 18 of 26 passing, for 206 yards, and seven scores, his highest touchdown mark of 2015. The Thunder defensive backfield tallied four interceptions, another season high. Sonie’s two picks takes him into the franchise lead for interceptions, with 12.

The win now means the Thunder can qualify for the 2015 National Conference Playoffs with a win next Saturday at Arizona, coupled with an Outlaws loss in their season finale against Spokane.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- PDX WR V’Keon Lacey
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- PDX DB Varmah Sonie
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME- PDX WR/KR Duane Brooks
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME- PDX WR V’Keon Lacey 48 yard TD Catch and Run in Second Quarter
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME- WR/KR Duane Brooks Record Breaking Eighth KRTD in Third Quarter

About the Portland Thunder
The Portland Thunder would like to thank our fans and sponsors for bringing the BOOM this 2015 AFL Season. Tickets and sponsorships are now available for the 2016 AFL Season. 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).