Wranglers Ward off VooDoo 45-38 in Overtime

Some new players helped the Wranglers improve their losing season Saturday in an overtime upset of the New Orleans VooDoo.

Increasingly impressive FB Chad Dukes scored on the first drive on a goal-line plow set up by the still-inconsistent QB Adrian McPherson’s 25-yard broken-play dash.

The Wrangler defense then stopped the VooDoo from crossing the goal line at close range four plays in a row. And McPherson put the McPher(fear) in New Orleans (I spent most of the rest of the game coming up with that one) by leading the offense from end to end, putting the Wranglers up 14-0 with a touchdown throw to WR Kevin Nickerson, a lead they kept for the rest of the quarter, and for 15 minutes the Wranglers looked more like a team bound for the Arena Bowl than a 2-5 underachiever.

The second quarter went not so well when the VooDoo found where the Erwin Center’s end zone is located, and the Wranglers’ offense went limp and answered with a field goal. The ensuing kickoff was run back by the apparently slippery and unfortunately named Jacques Rumph (probably chosen by his parents solely for the “Boy Named Sue” toughness-increasing factor). A safety and another freaking touchdown pass brought the VooDoo ahead, 22-17. McPherson, apparently unconcerned with my calling him inconsistent, then hit the according-to-the-Wrangler’s-press-release “stud receiver” Derrick Lewis for a touchdown.

The score remained unchanged during halftime when not much happened really, football-wise.

The third quarter proved that the audience’s favorite cereal is Boo Berry, when the refs called off WR/DB Sakeen Wright’s interception and ensuing touchdown on a roughing-the-passer rap. (The above-mentioned call was most likely correct and was only brought up so I could use my sweet-a Boo Berry joke.) Wright, an edition new enough to not make the program, caught a too-legit-to-omit touchdown on offense, though, but a VooDoo field goal and a TD run by their large and scary FB James Lynch brought the ’Doo up one 32-31. The following kickoff became an accidental onside kick when the ball took a freakish bounce off the uprights and landed on like the 20 yard line in the arms of a waiting VooDooer. This would no doubt become the standard kickoff procedure if anyone could ever in a million years do it again on purpose. The semilamely gotten return was converted into six points, and a blocked field goal brought the score to 31-38.

The VooDoo then scored a zero-point TD in the fourth when WR Rumph grabbed a ball in the end zone, and was immediately redirected to the line of scrimmage when the refs called holding. Rumph will probably take revenge on the city of Austin by beating the crap out of me for the joke about his name. VooDoo QB Steve “Ball Dropper” Bellisari lived up to the nickname plaguing him ever since I made it up a few words ago and dropped the ball (figures). Wrangler lineman and probably all-around decent person Mike Williams recovered. The audience was then left wondering if maybe there was actual butter on the ball when McPherson lost it the very next play in a bizarre fumble/granny pass hybrid. Fresh off a maybe 35-second break, the Wrangler defense kept the VooDoo out of the end zone once again. On fourth down, newbie lineman Terrance Ford, ironically signed from the VooDoo’s practice squad, blocked the VD’s fourth-down field goal shot and left the Wranglers within one score.

The gap was closed on the very next play, when McPherson connected with WR Otis Amey on a goal-to-goal TD pass. The extra point tied the score at 38 and the Wranglers defense held the VD to a last-second field goal, and this time kicker Eric Houle missed all on his own. Apparently aiming for the uprights only works on kickoffs.

The Wranglers won the overtime coin toss and scored on the first possession on a 3-yard run by player of the game, Amey. Overtime in the Arena Football League is not sudden death, but the Doo’s shot was cut off when Wright stripped the ball from Rumph and DB Deveron Harper scooped it up.

The Wranglers (now 3-5) have a bye week this week, but they will come back to the Erwin Center Sunday, May 6 to play the 1-6 Tampa Bay Storm at 3pm.

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