Sure, Jamar Howard, the offensive player of the game, posted three touchdowns and 119 total yards. Sure, Kyle Rowley, looking healthier than he has in years, converted six of his final seven drives into touchdowns with the lone KISS stop coming on a tipped-at-the-line interception. The real stars of the Portland Thunder’s season-opening 42-37 win over the Los Angeles KISS were the Thunder’s offensive and defensive lines, who dominated their KISS counterparts throughout the game.
Anyone who ever read Highlights for Children (or is familiar with enough memes) remembers Goofus and Gallant – they’ll be breaking down the rest of the game for me.
Never give up. The 2014 Portland Thunder never did, and these two plays provide an example of the great things that happened because of that effort.
First, Eric Rogers fights off being wrapped up when he catches the ball and punches it into the end zone between two defenders that just can’t catch up.
Secondly, KC Obi gets deep on his assignment with one of the AFL’s top return men, Larry Beavers Jr taking it up the opposite side of the field. Obi shows why hesitation kills and comes out of nowhere to end the return.
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The fans determined that 3 > 2, in that three Douglas McNeil TD’s were better than two Varmah Sonie picks. However, they also determined that 2 > 3, in that the two seed, the forced fumble recovery in the end zone, beat out Antron Dillon’s fourth-down sack to put a dagger in the KISS’ comeback hopes.
So which is true this week? Does Dougie dash away with the LA’s entry into the semifinals?
Or will KC Obi and Bryce Peila combine to take that spot away?
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With the second big upset of the tournament, KC Obi caught that Sonie interception completely unaware like it was a kick returner.
Now he’ll have to go up against…the Thunder’s only kick return for a touchdown this year, when Jamar Howard took the onside kick from the Voodoo and didn’t just secure it, but completed a mad dash for the end zone to give the Thunder the game-winning score. A quick four-and-out later and the Thunder sealed their second home win of the season.
Which special teams highlight will move on?
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Another thing Thunder fans seem to love is watching the defensive line beat former KISS quarterback Aaron Garcia up.
KC Obi knocked the ball free from Garcia’s grasp and it landed in the end zone, where Bryce Peila pounced on it to put the Thunder back in charge of the playoff-critical game against Los Angeles. That was a big enough play to take it past Obi’s other hits, where he stopped a fullback for a three-yard loss and ended kick returner AJ Cruz’s night on a clean, hard tackle in special teams.
Meanwhile, a pretty big fumble return was eliminated in the first round in favor of Antron Dillon’s fourth-quarter smackdown of the veteran QB.
“Hit the quarterback really hard” is no longer the tiebreaker – you’ll have to find another reason to send one of these two to the regional finals. Who moves on, Portland?
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You don’t win games without defense in the Arena Football League. Against the New Orleans Voodoo, the Portland defense came up with several big hits and big plays.
Prior to this interception from Sonie, Sonie forced a fumble that the Thunder couldn’t fall on and Voodoo WR Chase Deadder picked it up and ran it the rest of the way for a touchdown. This time, the Thunder took the ball and kept it.
Meanwhile, remember when KC Obi ended the game early for LA KISS returner AJ Cruz? He also ended the game for the Voodoo’s Larry Beavers with this great reaction tackle.
Which defensive play moves on?
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We’re through a week of voting for 2014’s top play! The second round in the top half of the bracket has been set, with eight different players’ highlights being represented, a tribute to how much of a team effort these games are. The big upset of the first round was Danny Southwick, who ran past 2-seed Varmah Sonie with the longest touchdown run in Thunder history.
Next week will feature plays from our wins over our American Conference foes, the New Orleans Voodoo, Jacksonville Sharks, and Tampa Bay Storm. Be ready for several more great plays and help us determine who came up with the Thunder’s top play in 2014!
Don’t forget! YOU could make the top play for the Thunder in 2015! We have open tryouts on December 1 (QB, WR, DB) and 2 (FB, LB, OL, DL). Sign up early and save $20 on registration fees!
We’ll also be at the Dave and Buster’s opening in Clackamas from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, November 10 – stop by and say hi to Darron Thomas! But before you do that, go like their Facebook page. Since they got to 1,000 likes before tomorrow, we’re sending Darron with some extra prizes to give away to fans on Monday.
KC Obi, a Southern Californian, wreaked havoc on the Los Angeles KISS in the game at the Moda Center. The iconic play of the game was obviously the sack and forced fumble that resulted in Bryce Peila’s touchdown, putting the Thunder on top for good. But we couldn’t let Obi’s other work in the game go unnoticed. He posted a huge tackle for a loss early in the game and then crushed KISS returner AJ Cruz on a return later in the game.
Which rounds out the Round Two competitors in the Los Angeles Region?
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