Avengers come up just short in 52-48 defeat

Times Staff Writer

Six of the eight teams in the Western Conference will qualify for the Arena Football League playoffs this season. For the Avengers, that may turn out to be a good thing.

A 52-48 loss to the New York Dragons on Saturday dropped the Avengers to 4-7 with five regular-season games to play.

The Avengers had a chance to pull off a dramatic come-from-behind win in the final seconds, but quarterback Sonny Cumbie's pass from the five-yard line was intercepted by New York's Monty Montgomery in the end zone.

Before this season, Cumbie was billed as the Avengers' franchise quarterback, but he struggled and after starting 35 consecutive games over the previous three seasons, he was replaced by Tim Hicks with the team holding a 2-3 record.

Hicks started his sixth consecutive game Saturday, but he threw two early interceptions and was pulled late in the second quarter with New York leading, 27-6.

Cumbie, who had not played since a March 30 loss at Grand Rapids, did not take long to get back into the flow. He completed his first six passes, three for touchdowns, to rally the Avengers, who outscored New York, 35-7, to take a 41-34 lead into the fourth quarter.

The big plays for the Avengers were Ryan Riddle's 35-yard fumble return for a touchdown and Damen Wheeler's third-quarter interception. Cumbie did the rest with three scoring passes to LaShaun Ward and one to Kevin Ingram.

But when the Avengers needed to make plays late in the fourth quarter they fell short. They turned the ball over on downs deep in their own territory, which led to a touchdown pass from Aaron Garcia to Kevin Jason Willis that put New York ahead, 52-48. Then Montgomery's interception sealed the outcome.



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