Arena football: At long last, Utah Blaze win crucial home game
It took a little longer than they would have liked, but it seems the Utah Blaze may have figured this thing out.
They're now overcoming mistakes and shortcomings to win, and much of the thanks goes to safety David Hyland.
After starting the season 1-3 Â and losing three consecutive home games the Blaze (3-3) defeated the Spokane Shock (5-2), the top team in the West, Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena 52-48 after Hyland knocked down a pass in the end zone with 14 seconds remaining.
Biggest play of the year?
"Absolutely," said receiver Aaron Lesue. "One-on-one â¦ that was just huge for us."
While the Shock made them sweat this one out, the Blaze muscled through a tough team and a division opponent. Quarterback Tommy Grady threw for 329 yards and seven touchdowns and broke the franchise record for most completions his 1,018th completion was a touchdown pass to receiver L.J. Castile on the first play of the third quarter and overcame some late-game shakiness.
"That's a game we should have won by a few scores," said Utah coach Ron James. "We made it harder than it needed to be, but they were at the top of our division and we needed to get the win and we did."
And the receivers showed up.
Lesue leapt over a defensive back waiting to tackle him, later read Grady's eyes and scored an typical Lesue diving touchdown, even scooping up a loose ball in the end zone and returning a kickoff for a touchdowns.
But it was Mario Urrutia's fourth-quarter touchdownÂ with 1:14 left his third of the night that sealed the deal.
"We're resolved now to win the close games," James said. "We've proven to ourselves that we can do that against a quality opponent."
Heading into the season, James said he looks at the schedule as three six-game seasons, and now at 3-3, the Blaze have shown flashes of what last year's record-breaking offense could evolve into this year, but have also struggled to cut down on crucial turnovers at times.
"It's just growing as a team," Hyland said. "We're starting to come together and play as a family."
Blaze 52, Shock 48
R Safety David Hyland deflects a pass intended for Spokane receiver Adron Tennell with 14 seconds remaining to seal the win.