VidSwap.com sends a huge shout out to the Utah Blaze. Huge news as the Utah Blaze beat the number 1 seed San Antonio Talons to advance to the conference championship. They’ll await the winner of the San Jose / Arizona game.
Utah Blaze Press Release
07/28/2012 12:56 AM
SAN ANTONIO – Utah fans will forever remember the Alamodome as the site in which the Blaze (13-6) held their ground to earn a victory over the top-seeded San Antonio Talons (14-5). In front of a hostile crowd of over 9,000, the Blaze secured the first playoff win in franchise history to advance to the Arena Football League’s National Conference Championship.
Typically known for its high-powered offense, Utah received a game-changing boast from its troops on the other side of the ball. San Antonio quickly built a 20-7 lead in the first quarter before the Blaze defense dug its feet into the turf and stonewalled veteran AFL QB Aaron Garcia and the Talons offense.
The Blaze struck first in the second quarter, as QB Tommy Grady rocketed a two-yard touchdown pass to WR Tysson Poots, cutting the lead to six points. On the ensuing possession, San Antonio drove to Utah’s 20-yard line before Utah tightened down. Faced with a fourth down, Garcia attempted to loft a pass to WR Derek Lee, but DB David Hyland blanketed the receiver and forced an incompletion.
Utah then converted the turnover into points off a 10-yard scoring toss from Grady to WR Aaron Lesue to take its first lead of the game. The Talons looked poised to score again before the end of the second quarter, but it was DB Will Mulder who answered the call as he intercepted Garcia to preserve a 21-20 lead at the midway point.
The Blaze received the ball at the start of the third quarter and increased its lead off a nine-yard touchdown pass from Grady to a diving Aaron Lesue. Another strong effort by Utah’s defense left San Antonio faced with yet another fourth-down play on its next possession. Needing to pick up just one yard for a fresh set of downs, the Talons opted to toss the ball to FB Chad Cook, who was promptly dropped for no gain by a swarming host of Blaze defenders.
Grady made quick work of the turnover on downs, needing just three plays to score. On third down, the six-foot-seven signal caller lofted a 33-yard touchdown pass to Poots, who made the over-the-shoulder grab to give Utah a 35-20 advantage with 4:26 remaining in the third.
As the final half of the game progressed, San Antonio responded with two unanswered scores to cut the lead to a single point. The Talons then regained possession in the fourth quarter with 7:31 left on the clock and Garcia drove his team down the field before being faced with a fourth-and-goal.
San Antonio needed just three yards to take the lead in the waning moments of the contest. Utah needed to make a final stop to ensure victory. On the night of his 26th birthday, it was Mac linebacker Joe Mortensen who became the game’s deciding factor.
On the snap of the football, Mortensen unleashed a furious blitz and exploded through the gap as if he had been shot out of a cannon. The linebacker flew through the protection untouched and dropped Garcia for a five-yard sack, leaving the Talons offensive linemen baffled. Utah took over on downs, and ran out the clock to secure the 35-34 win.
After earning its first playoff victory, Utah now sits just one game away from ArenaBowl XXV. The Blaze will hit the road next weekend for the National Conference Championship, taking on the winner of the Arizona Rattlers-San Jose SaberCats matchup. Arizona and San Jose play Saturday night, with kickoff scheduled for 10:00 p.m. ET.