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SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Blaze K STEVE VIDETICH woke up with a fever but ended the day feeling well as he kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired. The Blaze defeated the New Orleans VooDoo, 63-61, in their home opener in front of 14,222 fans.
"It wasn't the prettiest kick, but we'll take it," Videtich said after the kick skimmed the left upright.
The Blaze were led by Offensive Player of the Game QB JOE GERMAINE who completed 24-of-36 passes for 330 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Ironman of the Game honors went to WR/LB RYAN DENNARD who caught a touchdown pass, rushed for one touchdown and had two pass breakups. OL/DL CHRIS JANEK proved to be a defensive standout with two sacks for a loss of 18 yards as he was named Defensive Player of the Game.
"Joe (Germaine) was magnificent tonight," said Blaze head coach/general manager DANNY WHITE on the quarterback's first start since mid-season last year.
The Blaze scored on the opening possession of the game as Germaine connected with WR SIAHA BURLEY for a 15-yard touchdown to jump out to an early 7-0 lead. New Orleans tied the score at 7 points apiece as QB ANDY KELLY hit WR DARNELL MC DONALD for a four-yard TD. The pass also made Kelly the first 40,000-yard passer in AFL history. Kelly played for the Blaze last season and helped lead the team to the playoffs in its first season in the AFL.
Neither defense could come up with a stop as both teams scored on every possession until VooDoo K ERIC HOULE missed a critical PAT off the upright allowing Utah to hold a 28-27 edge. WR/LB TOM PACE ended the first half with 47 receiving yards, surpassing 2,500 career yards.
The scoring continued for both teams in the second half with Utah failing to convert on two of their own PATs. With the Blaze on the losing side of the 61-60 score, the turning point in the game came in the fourth quarter. With three seconds left, K STEVE VIDITECH sealed the victory with a 23-yard field goal.
The Blaze will travel to Phoenix next Saturday where they will face White's former team, the Arizona Rattlers. This will be the fourth meeting of the two teams where the Rattlers hold the series lead at 3-0.