VIRGINIA BEACH — There may have been a two-time Academy Award winner on the sidelines, but for Virginia Destroyers fans, the biggest star on the field Friday night was running backDominic Rhodes.
The former Indianapolis Colts star ran for a United Football League-record 217 yards and three touchdowns — also a league record — as the undefeated Destroyers knocked off Sacramento 28-6 before an announced crowd of 12,617.
The previous UFL record, set by Hartford’s Lorenzo Booker in 2010, was 147 yards. Rhodes had 143 through three quarters. His touchdowns came on runs of 8, 25 and 32 yards for the Destroyers (3-0), who broke open a 7-6 game with 21 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes.
“It was just a special night,” said Rhodes, who credited God, his linemen and his receivers blocking downfield — in that order — for his success. “Every time I broke through (the line), all the (defenders) were covered up.”
The victory left the Destroyers the UFL’s only unbeaten team. Meanwhile, Sacramento fell to 0-3 at the halfway point of the league’s six-game season.
The Sportsplex crowd included actor Denzel Washington, who turned out to see his son John-David start at running back for Sacramento.
Rhodes’ efforts aside, though, this was far from a perfect performance for the home team. After committing just one turnover through their first two games, the Destroyers coughed the ball up four times Friday, three in the first half. Quarterback Chris Greisen was picked off twice, the first one his first interception in 134 attempts dating to last season.
Even Rhodes wasn’t immune from the mistakes. A 47-yard Rhodes scamper in the second quarter ended when a Mountain Lions defender punched the ball about 30 yards into the Sacramento end zone, where the visitors recovered.
“I thought I was gone,” Rhodes said. "But I broke one of the rules."
"The ball belongs to us!" a smiling Virginia coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "Don't give it to them."
Rhodes more than made up for the mistake, though, as his scoring runs of 25 and 32 yards in the fourth quarter put the game away. Greisen started the Destroyers' big fourth quarter on the first play of the period with a 14-yard TD pass to Jamarko Simmons.
There were also no mistakes on Virginia's opening drive. Although Schottenheimer admitted that, coming off a bye week, he wasn't sure how his team would start out, the Destroyers executed flawlessly on a 12-play, 81-yard opening drive that chewed up nearly eight minutes and ended when Rhodes scored from 8 yards.
The Mountain Lions climbed to within a point in the second quarter when backup quarterback McLeod Bethel Thompson fired a 14-yard scoring pass to Aaron Woods. But a miscue on the snap and hold of the extra point threw off kicker Jose Martinez's rhythm, and his feeble boot glanced off the crossbar.
Martinez, who was just signed by Sacramento earlier in the week, also missed a 26-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Mountain Lions a 9-7 third-quarter lead.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times