Sports / 

Everything goes wrong in Utah Blaze defeat

By Trevor Phibbs, Deseret News | Posted - Jun. 5, 2011 at 12:07 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — There wasn't a hint of doubt of which team was superior at EnergySolutions Arena Saturday night.

The Utah Blaze were snake bit with a comedy of errors and poor play from the get-go in a 72-37 blowout loss to Arizona.

"Wow," said Utah offensive coordinator Matthew Sauk who took over coaching responsibilities while coach Ron James recovers from an undisclosed health concern. "It was such a weird game at some point you're just like 'wow.' Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.

"To be honest I'm not sure what happened. It's just a domino effect; it keeps on piling on and everyone is kind of shell-shocked. The good thing is we are still in the hunt. We really just have to forget about this game."

The tale of the night was displayed on the opening Utah drive. After three straight receptions by Ernie Pierce, wideout Chris Bocage motioned into the backfield for a delayed handoff. As he sprinted towards the line of scrimmage, he muffed the handoff and Arizona recovered on the Blaze 1-yard line.

The Rattlers (10-2) then methodically drove the length of the field on a four-play series that culminated with a 12-yard touchdown reception by Trandon Harvey.

This was the first drive of many where Arizona intelligently isolated newly signed safety Chris Royal on an island with its two best receivers. Without having time to learn the defensive schemes, Royal looked discombobulated throughout the entire game.

Utah (5-6) looked solid in the first quarter with two touchdown drives, but was unable to convert on both PAT attempts after the scores.

With the score lingering at 14-12 heading into the second quarter, the Rattlers reeled off 28-unanswered points to explode the game wide open.

The back-breaking series came with 3:49 remaining in the quarter. Utah failed to gain a single yard en route to a turnover-on-downs on its own 2-yard line. Two plays later Arizona pushed the score to 35-12.

On the ensuing kickoff, Arizona pounced on a loose ball that was caused by an enormous hit and eventually recovered in the end-zone for the quick score.

That was one of four Arizona forced turnovers in the second quarter alone, excluding two turnover-on-downs. The Rattlers were able to score 48 first half points with only 89-yards on offense.

"We had four turnovers in the first half, you're talkin' about 28 points," said Sauk. "It's a direct result of what you see tonight. I've got issues with that."

The Blaze moved the chains for the first time in the second quarter with just over two minutes remaining, and eventually scored with 32.8 seconds to stop the bleeding at 42-19.

"Offensively we're in a funk right now. I don't know if it's all the personnel changes we've had at the wide receiver spot," said Sauk. "It is what it is, we're struggling."

However, the ensuing kickoff Virgil Gray scampered 56-yards untouched for another Rattlers score.

The Blaze simply had no answer for the Rattlers offensive attack in the second half, despite Arizona's starting quarterback Nick Davila resting after the first drive in the third quarter.

The Rattlers outscored Utah 58-13 during the second and third quarters.

Arizona's Rod Windsor showed why he's considered perhaps the best receiver in the AFL with two third quarter touchdown receptions to halt any idea of a Blaze comeback.

Windsor finished with 10 receptions for 98 yards and four touchdowns.

Email: tphibbs@desnews.com

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Trevor Phibbs

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