03/18/2014 12:10 AM
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Thunder opened up their season in rhythm, completing pass after pass as they moved the ball down for a touchdown on the opening drive of franchise history.
After that drive, however, the San Jose Sabercats took over, defeating the Thunder 64-34 in the final game of Week 1. Starting quarterback Russ Michna threw touchdown passes on three of his first four attempts and the Thunder couldn’t overcome the veteran-laden Sabercats squad.
Michna’s day ended at halftime; he left the game having completed 12 of 16 passes for 166 yards and five touchdowns. The Sabercats’ offense didn’t fall off a whole lot after the break, either – backup quarterback Nathan Stanley completed eight of 14 passes for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s frustrating to lose, without a doubt,” said Coach Sauk. “But I’m proud of my guys; none of them quit. We’re learning on the fly – I’ve had several players and coaches come up to me and tell me, ‘You have a great group of guys; keep them together. I think that we have the talent to do it, it’s just going to take the reps to get there.”
The Thunder special teams were a bright spot on the evening – kick returner Duane Brooks broke several long returns for a total of 215 yards, including a 54-yard return all the way to the San Jose 2-yard line in the second quarter, a play that served as the AFL Highlight of the Game. Brooks also led the Thunder in receiving yardage, posting 58 yards on seven receptions and collecting two touchdowns.
Rod Harper and Reggie Gray both posted 100-yard days for the Sabercats. Harper led all receivers with 105 yards; Gray led all receivers with four touchdowns.
The Thunder will look to bounce back next week in a home game against the Iowa Barnstormers, who lost 64-35 in Spokane on Saturday.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – Reggie Gray, San Jose
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – David Hyland, San Jose
J. LEWIS SMALL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – Duane Brooks, Portland
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME – Jeffrey Solomon, 2Q TD Catch
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME - Brooks KR to 2-yard line
Season tickets are available for purchase starting as low as $99 by calling 503-773-4AFL or by visiting www.portlandthunder.com. For all the latest news and discussion on the Portland Thunder, follow the team on Facebook (facebook.com/PDXThunder), Twitter and Instagram (@PDXThunder).
About the Portland Thunder The Portland Thunder are a professional arena football team of the Arena Football League from Portland, Oregon, USA. They play their home games at the Moda Center. 2014 marks the franchise’s first season. Tickets and Sponsorships are available for the 2014 season. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-773-4235.