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Harrell’s Five Touchdowns Crush Avengers

Times Staff Writer

There will be time this week for the Avengers to study tape from Sunday’s game against Colorado. At that point, they might catch a glimpse of Crush receiver Damian Harrell.

Harrell was the most obvious sore spot in a painful afternoon at the Pepsi Center in Denver. His five touchdown receptions were a big reason for the Crush’s 58-40 Arena Football League victory, which ended the Avengers’ three-game winning streak.

“We just wanted to take what they gave us, and we’ll take that all day,” Harrell said.

That was how the game seemed scripted: The Avengers gave and the Crush took.

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The Avenger secondary spent the day being twisted and turned by Harrell, who had 10 receptions for 135 yards. Miscommunication on assignments twice left Colorado receivers open for touchdowns.

On offense, the Avengers sputtered. They got inside the Colorado 10-yard line nine times but were denied touchdowns on four of those trips.

Even the special teams, so efficient during the winning streak, had gaffes. Bad snaps cost the Avengers a field goal and extra point. More crucial was a botched on-side kick attempted after the Avengers had cut Colorado’s lead to 37-34 with 6 minutes 11 seconds left in the third quarter.

“I told the team sometimes you have a team win, where all three phases play well,” Avenger Coach Ed Hodgkiss said. “This was truly a team loss.”

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Harrell’s first touchdown reception gave the Crush a 21-7 lead and made it the 38th consecutive game that he has caught at least one touchdown pass, the second-longest streak in league history.

“You’re never going to shut him down, but I was hoping we’d do a better job than we did today,” Hodgkiss said. “He had free will out there.”

The first half ended when the Crush’s Clay Rush kicked a 62-yard field goal, second-longest in league history, to give Colorado a 37-20 lead.

In the third quarter, the Avengers had cut the lead to four points and then seemed to have retained possession, recovering an on-side kick. But kicker Remy Hamilton was ruled to have touched the ball before it had gone 10 yards.

Moments later, Harrell caught his third touchdown pass and the Avengers were never closer than 10 points again.

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Foster reported from Los Angeles.

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In other games:

New York 61, Arizona 37 -- Aaron Garcia threw six touchdown passes, and Corey Johnson had two of the Dragons’ six interceptions in a victory at Uniondale, N.Y.

Kevin Swayne had six catches for 112 yards and three touchdowns for the Dragons, and Mike Horacek caught two touchdown passes and also returned an interception for a score.

Dallas 72, Philadelphia 43 -- Clint Stoerner threw eight touchdown passes to help the Desperados rout the Soul at Philadelphia.

Stoerner completed 15 of 23 for 242 yards. Jason Shelley and Bobby Sippio each had three touchdown catches.

Grand Rapids 66, Columbus 57 -- Michael Bishop threw five touchdown passes at Grand Rapids, Mich., to lead the Rampage to its first home victory since 2003.

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Associated Press contributed to this report.

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