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Mistakes Add Up to Avengers’ Demise

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Arena Football League playoff hopes of the Los Angeles Avengers were severely damaged Thursday night by a 64-52 loss to the Milwaukee Mustangs before 10,991 at Staples Center.

The Mustangs (4-7), who had lost five of six games before Thursday, moved ahead of New Jersey and Houston for the 11th postseason slot. Twelve of the league’s 17 teams will qualify.

Starting Avenger quarterback Todd Marinovich, despite injuring the top of his left foot during a scramble for a ball he fumbled in the second quarter, kept L.A. close by throwing seven touchdown passes. Chris Jackson, as usual, was his favorite receiver with four touchdown catches among his 11 receptions.

But L.A. could not keep pace with Milwaukee quarterback Kevin McDougal, who threw eight touchdown passes. The biggest was a 40-yarder to Lamart Cooper with 4:38 left, giving the Mustangs a 57-45 lead.

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Marinovich also fumbled three times, the most damaging coming on L.A.'s 10-yard line with 46 seconds left. Milwaukee recovered, securing the victory.

The Avengers (3-9) next play Western Division leader San Jose, which handed L.A. its worst defeat, 78-25, on May 27.

Marinovich, who tied a league record last week with 10 touchdown passes against Houston, put L.A. ahead, 14-7, in the first quarter on scoring passes of 25 and 13 yards to Jackson.

But Milwaukee responded by scoring 22 consecutive points. McDougal threw two short touchdown passes to receiver Gary Compton and hooked up on a 45-yarder to wideout Sean Riley.

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The Milwaukee defense also forced a safety, stripping Marinovich at the Avenger 14 and tackling lineman Rob Stanavitch--who recovered the ball--in the end zone.

Although in pain, Marinovich did return to connect with Anthony Rice on an eight-yard touchdown. Then L.A. made a break for itself.

On the kickoff, the Avengers’ Kevin Carroll barreled into Mustang return man Lamart Cooper and forced a fumble that L.A. recovered at the Milwaukee 13. Marinovich promptly found Travis Hannah in the corner of the end zone for his fourth scoring pass of the half to cut the lead to 29-28.

McDougal still had 29 seconds before halftime, and he responded with his fifth touchdown pass, a 13-yarder to Riley, to push the lead to eight.

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L.A. could never again regain the lead.


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