ANAHEIM – Thunder WR/KR Duane Brooks returned two consecutive third quarter kickoffs for touchdowns, and added two more scores receiving, but his input was not enough to help Portland overcome a number of unforced errors, as they fell to the LA KISS in front of 7,345 fans at the Honda Center Sunday afternoon in Anaheim.
The win for the KISS (1-9, 0-4) is their first of the 2015 AFL season, and their first over the Thunder (3-7, 1-2) in their last four tries.
“We have got to talk about the things that we need to do better,” Head Coach Mike Hohensee said following the loss. “You can’t jump offside on 4th down. You can’t drop interceptions.”
The Thunder were penalized 13 times, for 141 yards in the loss, including three defensive penalties in 3rd or 4th-and-Long situations, extending KISS drives that were eventually converted for scores.
“The majority of those were on defense,” Hohensee added, in regards to the penalties. “We’d get a sack, but take a penalty. That stuff takes the ball out of our hands. It seemed to happen over and over again. We have to play smarter than that.”
Brooks returned five kicks for 198 yards, averaging 39.6 yards per return, while breaking two returns for scores, the first a 57-yarder at the 6:03 mark of the 3rd Quarter, and the second, a 58-yarder just over three minutes later.
“I can only attribute these (runbacks) to the guys in front of me,” Brooks stated. “I let my eyes guide my feet, and I take what our blocking gives me. After that, I just try to make guys miss, and get in the end-zone.”
Duane added five receptions for 54 yards, totaling a game high of 252 yards, all-purpose.
A one yard touchdown rush in the dying seconds of the first half from KISS receiver DeMarco Sampson proved the only difference between the sides through the first two frames. The KISS, receiving the second half kick, were stymied by the Thunder defense, forcing Los Angeles to settle for a FG on their first possession of third.
Portland was unable to score on its next possession, turning the ball over on downs following a failed pitch out to FB John Martinez on a 4th-and-2 play, providing the KISS with an opportunity to balloon their lead to three scores. Los Angeles did just that one play later, as KISS QB Adrian McPherson hit former Thunder receiver Jeffrey Solomon for a 37 yard touchdown, providing a 18 point cushion that Portland would not be able to overcome.
McPherson threw 5 touchdowns on his return from injury, including three to WR Donovan Morgan. The former Florida State standout ended the evening completing 18 of his 33 passes, for 240 yards. Morgan caught seven balls from McPherson, totaling 98 yards.
Portland QB Kyle Rowley was given the start over back-up Alex Carder, despite being substituted for Carder midway through the third quarter of the Thunder’s loss to San Jose last week. Rowley finished the game 22 of 32 passing, for 233 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.
The Thunder return home to the Moda Center this Friday, June 12th, as they take on the 3-Time Defending ArenaBowl Champion Arizona Rattlers. Kickoff is set for 7pm.