Fever loses to Stockton 54-51
STOCKTON, Calif. - QB Evan Gray threw for four touchdown scores on 245 yards passing and added an all-important rushing touchdown with 2:27 remaining in regulation to lead the Stockton Lightning (4-5) to a 54 - 51 decision over the Tri-Cities Fever (5-4) in front of 4,785 fans at Stockton Arena on Saturday night in week 10 of arenafootball2 play.
Stockton's second consecutive win secures the Lightning's first winning streak in franchise history.
The Lightning completed a successful opening drive just under 3 minutes into the first quarter to grab a 7-0 lead as FB Peter Tuialuuluu scampered into the end zone from 1-yard out to give Stockton the early advantage. Tri-Cities, however, would hold the Lightning offense scoreless for the remainder of the quarter, responding with a pair of scores of their own. QB Brian Baker would hit WR J.R. Thomas for two touchdown scores from 14 yards and 9 yards respectively to give Tri-Cities a 13-7 lead thru 15 minutes of play.
Thomas would pick up his third touchdown reception on the night for Tri-Cities at the 1:53 mark of the second quarter, propelling the Fever to a 19-7 lead. The Lightning responded on the ensuing drive as QB Evan Gray floated a pass to WR Sale Key for an 11-yard touchdown score at 3:58 of the frame to bring Stockton to within 6 points at 19-13.
After Tri-Cities WR Deontrae Johnson lifted Tri-Cities to a 25-13 lead with a 5 yard touchdown reception, the Lightning would strike for three consecutive touchdown scores to close out the half as Gray hit WR Clarence Cunningham and WR Sale Key with major scores to lift Stockton to a 27-25 lead. Lightning DB James Newson would cap the scoring with a 30 yard interception return with 14 seconds remaining to lift Stockton to a 34-25 lead thru two quarters.
Tri-Cities would narrow the Lightning lead in the late stages of the third quarter, the result of a fumble recovery deep in Fever territory. Baker would hit WR Robert Garth with 4:42 remaining in the frame with a 22 yard touchdown score to bring Tri-Cities to within three points at 34-31.
The Fever comeback continued at the 1:11 mark of the fourth quarter with Baker finding Garth in the end zone for his second consecutive touchdown reception on the night, an 8 yard score, to give Tri-Cities a 37-34 lead. A 2 yard touchdown run by Tuialuuluu on Stockton's next possession would put the Lightning back in front 41-37.
After Lightning DL Lyndell Hawkins and LB Jason Hunt combined efforts to stall a Tri-Cities drive with a 4th down quarterback sack, Gray found a wide-open Anthony Bolden over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown score and a 47-37 Stockton lead with 7:32 remaining. Baker would bring Tri-Cities right back with a 37-yard touchdown strike to Garth up the sideline to make the score 47-43.
The Lightning defense, however, would deny a two-point convert rush attempt by J.R. Thomas to maintain a two possession lead. Gray's 3 yard quarterback-keeper with 2:27 remaining put Stockton ahead by 11 points at 54-43. Baker would connect with Thomas for a 19-yard touchdown score with 19 seconds remaining in regulation time to make the score 54-49. The subsequent two-point convert to Johnson narrowed the Stockton lead to three points at 54-51.
Cunningham led all Lightning receivers with six catches for 121 yards, while Gray completed 19 catches in 36 attempts for 245 yards and four touchdown scores.