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SALT LAKE CITY - Turnovers and missed opportunities proved to be too much for the Blaze to overcome, as Utah fell to the New Orleans VooDoo, 72-57, in front of a crowd of 10,078 on Tim Dahle Field at EnergySolutions Arena. The loss puts the Blaze at 2-2 on the season heading into the team's first bye week.
The Blaze got on the board first as WR Ernie Pierce dove for a five-yard touchdown strike from QB Tommy Grady in the right corner of the end zone. New Orleans tied the game after a long drive that culminated in a scoring toss from QB Kurt Rocco to WR Greg Ellingson. But Utah regained the lead one play later, as Grady lofted a 22-yard touchdown pass to WR Alvance Robinson to make it 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The VooDoo scored on three straight possessions to start the second quarter, beginning with a 10-yard touchdown throw from Rocco to WR L.J. Castille. He then connected with Ellingson on scoring completions of 40 and 19 yards to put Utah behind, 27-14. The Blaze responded with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Grady to Pierce. However, a mistake in the secondary left Castille wide open for a 39-yard scoring reception on the ensuing possession. Utah got the final word in the first half, as FB Michael Ward punched it into the end zone from a yard out to make it 34-28 VooDoo at the midway point.
New Orleans scored on the opening possession of the third quarter off a 27-yard pass from Kurt Rocco to WR Josh Bush. Utah answered with a score of its own, as Ernie Pierce made a leaping reception before jetting into the end zone from 21 yards out. The Blaze quickly regained the football moments later, as DL Mike Lewis dropped Rocco in the end zone for a safety. Utah converted the turnover into points, as Grady eluded the pass rush before rocketing a 12-yard touchdown pass to WR Aaron Lesue. Soon after, Ellingson delivered his fourth touchdown of the night off an eight-yard pass from Rocco. Utah fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Rocco scored on a one-yard touchdown run to give New Orleans a 54-44 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The first score of the fourth quarter was an extraordinary one. Tommy Grady slipped as a he dropped back to pass, yet managed to get to his knees and fire a four-yard touchdown pass to Lesue to cut the deficit, 60-57. New Orleans answered with a 10-yard scoring pass from Rocco to Castille. Pierce hauled in a deep 45-yard touchdown on the ensuing possession, but the VooDoo quickly scored a play later off a 39-yard reception by Skylar Green. VooDoo DB Gladel Brutus returned a late interception for a touchdown to seal the game, 72-57.
Grady finished the night completing 17-of-30 pass attempts for 256 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Ernie Pierce led Utah's wide receivers with seven receptions for 124 yards and four touchdowns. Defensively, Mike Lewis recorded 3.5 tackles with a game-high 2.5 sacks.
Rocco connected on 23-of-40 attempts for New Orleans, as he gained 373 yards with nine touchdowns through the air and added another score on the ground. Greg Ellingson caught 11 balls for 167 yards and four touchdowns, while L.J. Castille contributed three scoring receptions. VooDoo DB Alvin Ray Jackson led the defense with three interceptions.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game
WR Greg Ellingson (New Orleans)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game
DL Michael Lewis (Utah)
JLS Ironman of the Game
WR Ernie Pierce (Utah)
AFL Playmaker of the Game
QB Kurt Rocco (New Orleans)
Cutters Catch of the Game
WR Alvance Robinson (Utah) - 16-yard reception on fourth down in fourth quarter
Spalding Highlight of the Game
QB Tommy Grady (Utah) - Four-yard touchdown pass off his knees to Aaron Lesue
National Guard MVP
QB Kurt Rocco (New Orleans)