Utah allows 21 points in fourth quarterSALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Blaze (6-11) allowed 21 points in the fourth quarter to fall to the Colorado Crush, 49-44, Saturday afternoon in front of a national-television audience and crowd of 10,073 at EnergySolutions Arena in the Wild Card Round of the AFL Playoffs. Utah held a 31-28 lead heading into the final 15 minutes, but Colorado QB JOHN DUTTON (6-4, 225, Nevada) threw for touchdown strikes of four and five yards, and running back ROBERT THOMAS (6-1, 252, Henderson State) threw for another in leading the Crush to their first-ever victory over the Blaze. After the Crush built a 12-point fourth-quarter lead, Utah QB JOE GERMAINE (6-2, 238, Ohio State) pulled the Blaze to within five with a four-yard touchdown pass to WR HUEY WHITTAKER (6-5, 218, South Florida) with 36 seconds left in the game, but failed on the onsides kick and Colorado ran out the clock. Germaine completed 23-of-36 passes for 252 yards and six touchdowns and an interception, while Dutton, the Offensive Player of the Game, completed 30-of-47 passes for 268 yards and six scores. The Blaze started the season 0-9 but won six of their last seven regular-season games and eventually earned their third straight postseason berth and first-ever home playoff game. “It's too bad,” Utah coach DANNY WHITE said of the loss, “because we had a chance to do something that was really, really remarkable and we kind of already did, but we let this opportunity go by.” The Blaze took a two-point lead, 37-35, with 6:21 left in the game on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Germaine to WR JJ MCKELVEY (6-4, 215, Clemson), but the Crush answered with two straight scores with the second coming after Colorado recovered a kickoff that fell just out of the reach of Utah's J'SHARLON JONES (5-8, 188, Colorado State). Utah's EDDIE CANONICO (6-1, 185 Sacramento State) had 11 total tackles and was named the ADT Defensive Player of the Game, while Colorado WR WENDELL WILLIAMS (6-0, 190, Rhode Island) was named the Ironman of the Game. He finished with 13 catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns, four kickoff returns for 67 yards and two tackles. Utah tallied the first score of the afternoon with a 13-yard touchdown reception by WR AARON BOONE (6-3, 208, Kentucky). After an interception by DB DAMON MASON (5-9, 195, Southwestern Louisiana) the Blaze scored on a touchdown catch by McKelvey, giving Utah an early 14-0 lead. The Crush scored a late quarter touchdown, to end the first quarter of play with a Utah lead, 14-7. Whittaker, who was named to the All-Arena First-Team, recorded the first Blaze touchdown of the second quarter with a nine-yard pass from Germaine. Blaze K STEVE VIDETICH (6-2, 228, North Carolina State) connected on his longest field goal of the season from 30 yards out, giving Utah a 24-14 lead. Colorado attempted a field goal of their own, but was blocked by Blaze DL JOHN CULP (6-5, 301, Kansas). Williams scored his second touchdown of the quarter with 13 seconds left, cutting Utah's lead to 24-21 at halftime. McKelvey finished with a team-high 10 catches for 105 yards and three touchdowns, while Whittaker had seven catches for 66 yards and two scores and Boone tallied five receptions for 77 yards and a touchdowns.
ABOUT THE UTAH BLAZE
The Utah Blaze were recipients of the Best Support Staff Award for the 2006 and 2007 seasons as recognized by the Arena Football League. Tickets are available by logging onto www.utahblaze.com or by calling (801) 257-3111. The Blaze are owned and operated by the Ken Garff Automotive Group – www.kengarff.com.