KANSAS CITY – The Utah Blaze (7-5) rolled to a 55-45 victory over the Kansas City Command (2-9) in front of 4,618 fans at the Sprint Center. After turnovers plagued the offense over the past two weeks, QB Tommy Grady put forth a spectacular effort while Utah racked up a franchise record with 442 yards in total offense.
Grady set an Arena Football League record with 46 completions on the night while throwing for a franchise-best 436 aerial yards and seven touchdowns. He completed 83.6 percent of his attempts and added another score on the ground. WR Tysson Poots gained 131 yards with four touchdowns on 18 receptions – second-most in team history. WR Shaun Kauleinamoku snared 17 balls for a game-high 217 yards and three scores.
Utah’s defense delivered an equally impressive performance, holding the Command to a season-low 45 points. The vaunted Blaze defensive line harassed Kansas City QB Brian Jones throughout the game, posting 4.0 sacks and a safety. DB David Hyland recorded an interception worthy of any highlight-reel, as he snatched Jones’ pass out of the air before catapulting over the boards.
The Blaze built a 36-24 lead at halftime off of huge performances by Poots and Kauleinamoku, who combined for five touchdown receptions in the first two quarters. Kansas City inched closer to the lead in the third frame after FB Trey Bryant rushed into the end zone to cut the deficit to four points. However, the effort proved futile, as Poots hauled in two more touchdown passes to maintain the two-score lead. Utah closed out the game with a statement, as DL Mike Lewis dropped QB Brian Jones in the backfield for the final time.
Utah returns home to Tim Dahle Field at EnergySolutions Arena this Saturday, June 9th to take on the Chicago Rush. The matchup features huge playoff implications and will without a doubt be a deciding factor in determining which franchise advances to the postseason. Tickets are still available for purchase by calling 1-888-99BLAZE, or online at www.utblaze.com.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game
WR Shaun Kauleinamoku (Utah)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game
DB J.C. Neal (Kansas City)
JLS Ironman of the Game
WR Jacki Chambers (Kansas City)
AFL Playmaker of the Game
DB Bradley Chavez (Kansas City)
Cutters Catch of the Game
WR Bret Smith (Kansas City)
National Guard MVP
QB Tommy Grady (Utah)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Command’s top-ranked defense came up just short against the league’s top-passing offense as Utah Blaze QB Tommy Grady finished with 436 yards, passing for seven touchdowns, one rushing TD and walked away with the National Guard MVP of the game. Command defense held Utah to under 60 points for just the fourth time this season, but the Blaze (7-5) scored on their first 6 possessions of the game, and went on to win 55-45 over the Command (2-9) in front of 4,618 at Sprint Center.
“I thought we played hard,” said Command Coach Danton Barto. “It’s tough going in with a new quarterback, anytime. You know bringing Brian in straight off the street, I thought he played well. He’ll get more settled down, I thought he did some great things for us, obviously made a couple mistakes but he’ll clean those things up as he knocks the rust off.”
Blaze QB Grady started off hot, throwing a 38 yard touchdown pass on Utah’s second offense play of the game, Blaze WR Shaun Kauleinamoku had three touchdowns in the first half alone and Tysson Poots contributed another two TD’s extending Utah’s streak of scoring at least 50 points in 11 consecutive games.
Brian Jones started for the Command in place of Matt Gutierrez who was placed on IR late Friday. Jones (6’2, 205 Toledo) has been out of the league since 2008 but has played for Command Coach Danton Barto on three different teams, winning the af2 championship in 2005 with the Memphis Xplorers. Jones got off to a slow start turning the ball over twice in the first half, but settled in and took just one play in the Command’s second series to throw a 42 yard touchdown to Bret Smith with 6:33 left in first quarter putting the Command up 10-7.
Utah answered nine plays later with a two yard TD catch by Poots to go up 13-10 at the end of the first quarter. Though KC special teams kept Utah starting from inside their own five yard line for the first four series, the Blaze drove down the field ending with 22 yard TD to Kauleinamoku to put Utah up 22-10. Brian Jones turned the ball over for the second time with an interception by David Hyland at Utah’s one yard line and the Blaze capitalized with Kauleinamoku’s second TD of game to put the Blaze up 29-10 with 5:31 left in first half.
Brian Jones and Command started to get in a rhythm with a 15 yard touchdown pass to Jackie Chambers to keep the Command close 29-17 with 3:31 left in first half. Utah’s quick scoring offense answered with a five yard touchdown to Poots second to go up 35-17 but left enough time on the clock for Jones to connect with Bret Smith for his second TD of the game to keep the Command close, 36-24 headed into halftime.
The Blaze start the second half right where they left off scoring when QB Grady rushed for a two yard touchdown to put the Blaze up 42-24 with 7:39 left in third quarter. Command QB Jones and KC’s defense kept battling, cutting the lead to 48-45 when Bret Smith scored his second TD of the night with 5:26 left in the fourth quarter, but the Command could never get close enough to take the lead, eventually losing 55-45.
Coach Barto summed up the night, “Their offense put it to us pretty good and scored a lot of points, held the possession… when they do that you can’t make mistakes on your side of the ball offensively and they deserved to win tonight.”
The Command travel to Spokane Shock Saturday, June 9th at 7 p.m. (CT). The game will air live on SportsRadio 810 WHB, KSMO TV-62 and Ustream.tv/kansascitycommand. The Command celebrate Father’s Day with a home game, Sunday June 17th against San Jose SaberCats at Sprint Center. All Dads get in free with the purchase of one admission. The Utah Blaze host the Chicago Rush Saturday, June 9th at EnergySolutions Arena.