Net Result Is an Avenger Win
Practice makes perfect.
Quarterback Tony Graziani and the Avenger receivers had run the play for weeks on end in preparation for the day they’d need it to pay off during a game.
And it worked on the field just as well as it did at home. With no time remaining on the clock and the Avengers down, 63-58, Graziani launched a pass from the 32-yard line that hit the net and landed in the hands of Greg Hopkins, giving Los Angeles a 64-63 win over the Orlando Predators before 11,322 fans at the TD Waterhouse Center.
“You might not believe this, but we work on that play every week,” Graziani said.
The Avengers extended their winning streak to four games and improved to 7-2. The victory also ensured that the Avengers would stay on top of the Western Division standings.
Orlando (6-3) had a 56-45 lead going into the last minute of the game before Avenger wide receiver Siaha Burley caught a five-yard Graziani pass with 42 seconds remaining. A two-point conversion attempt failed, holding the Predator lead at five.
The Avengers attempted an onside kick, but the ball landed in the hands of Orlando’s Kenny McEntyre, who returned it for what appeared to be the insurance touchdown. Brian Schmitz’s kick made the score 63-51 with 35 seconds left.
But the Avengers got a break on their next possession when Kevin Ingram returned the kickoff 50 yards to Orlando’s seven-yard-line, setting up Graziani’s touchdown pass to Chris Jackson. Remy Hamilton’s kick narrowed the deficit to 63-58 with only 18 seconds left.
The Avengers were successful with their next onside kick, recovering the ball on their six. With nine seconds left, Graziani connected with Jackson for 12 yards, then threw the final pass to Hopkins that ended the game.
“We have the net set up on our practice field,” Hopkins said. “We practice that play all the time -- the onside kick, the Hail Mary pass and the bounce off the net.
“We’ve done it before, just not during game time.”
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