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Arena football: Backup QB Boltus leads Utah Blaze to win over Jacksonville

Published June 15, 2013 10:57 pm

Arena football • Utah ends three-game losing streak with help from strong first-half defense.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Head coach Ron James said it was time to make a switch.

After 11 games and 25 interceptions for quarterback Tommy Grady — last year's AFL offensive player of the year — something needed to be done.

"When you look at it, we can't afford to go into games down two possessions before we even start," James said. "That's the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

So the task was turned over to Jason Boltus to try ending a three-game skid for the Utah Blaze against the Jacksonville Sharks.

Boltus and the Blaze (5-7) offense got off to a quick start, scoring on their first four possessions to lead the way to a win Saturday night in EnergySolutions Arena, 62-55.

The effort — like many other games this season — was highlighted by plays on defense. Utah forced two turnovers on downs, tallied an interception and batted down three passes all in the first half. When the teams ran off the field, the Blaze led 42-20.

"Defense has been really strong the last few weeks," James said.

Boltus, a second-year player from Hartwick College, also impressed with his legs. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback rushed the ball six times for 31 yards and one touchdown.

"[The game] wasn't a perfect 10. I'd have to give myself a seven or eight," Boltus said. "We have to improve on the second half. Offensively we kept grinding and responding to their scores."

The Sharks (8-5) brought the game within 14 with a touchdown in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter. On the next Utah possession, Boltus threw an interception in the red zone, and Jacksonville used four plays to go 34 yards down the field and bring the score within seven, 48-41, with 7 minutes, 31 seconds left in the game.

Utah responded with Braylon Bell. The receiver caught both passes from Boltus in a 28-yard drive to for a 55-41 lead and 5:34 remaining. The Sharks tacked on another touchdown to bring the score within seven again, but an onside kick attempt failed to all but put the game away for the Blaze.

"He made a few mistakes you expect in your first start," James said. "There were some passes where he shouldn't have thrown where he did."

mappelgate@sltrib.com

Storylines Blaze 62, Sharks 55

R A quarterback switch for Utah pays off, with Jason Boltus taking over for Tommy Grady.