(SAN JOSE) – The San Jose SaberCats (15-1, 6-0) grinded out a, 55-49 overtime thriller over the Portland Thunder (4-11, 1-4) on a record setting night Saturday at the SAP Center.
The SaberCats came back from a 20-point first half deficit, outscoring the Thunder 34-15 in the second half and overtime to remain undefeated in the Pacific Division. Trailing 49-41 halfway through the fourth quarter, Portland scored on a six-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Rowley to V’Keon Lacey and successfully completed the two-point conversion on a two-yard pass from Rowley to Duane Brooks, tying the game at 49-49.
In their second home overtime outing of the season, the SaberCats received the ball first. On the drive, Meyer completed six passes to three different receivers; with Ben Nelson hauling in the four-yard go ahead touchdown, giving San Jose a 55-49 lead, despite missing the point after try. With a chance to equalize, the Thunder moved the ball down to the SaberCats’ five yard line, but was stopped on fourth down with an incomplete pass from Rowley, intended for Lacey and sealed the win for San Jose.
“The guys kept their composure, they continued to fight and they got the win,” said Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet.”
Portland opened the game with an 11-yard touchdown reception by Jared Perry to jump out to an early 6-0 lead. On the ensuing drive, Thunder defensive back De’Mon Glanton would strip Darius Reynolds and recover the fumble, setting up Rowley for a 13-yard touchdown pass to Lacey, making it a 13-0 lead with 8:51 remaining in the first quarter. Portland would regain possession after forcing a San Jose turnover on downs, leading to a 4-yard touchdown by Lacey, giving the Thunder a 20-0 lead after the first quarter. Lacey led the Thunder with four touchdowns, adding seven receptions and 63 yards receiving.
With a routine 9-yard reception in the first quarter, Reggie Gray broke Rodney White’s all-time franchise record of 134 receptions in a season. Gray had a team-high 14 receptions 130 yards four touchdowns.
After the slow first quarter, The SaberCats would awaken in the second frame, getting on the board with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Gray in the corner of the end zone, taking a big hit but hanging on; cutting the lead to 20-7. The SaberCats would force a turnover on downs of their own, eventually scoring on a six yard touchdown pass from Meyer to the veteran Nelson, making it a 20-14 score with 6:37 remaining in the first half. Meyer completed 34-of-50 passes for 284 yards for eight touchdowns.
In the final minute of the half, Jared Perry would add a 24-yard touchdown reception and Lacey would grab a 10-yard touchdown reception, extending the Thunder lead back to 20 at 34-14. Perry finished with a game-high 13 receptions for 156 yards, adding two touchdowns.
The roller-coaster of momentum swung back the SaberCats way when Gray returned the kickoff 48-yards, down to the eight-yard line with 12 seconds remaining. Gray would finish the drive with a 4-yard touchdown reception as the SaberCats trailed at halftime for only the second time this season at, 34-21.
Coming out of the break, the SaberCats would march down the field from the three yard line, scoring on a 19-yard touchdown reception by Darius Reynolds. On the ensuing drive, Fontenette would intercept Rowley for the second time in the game, providing the San Jose offense with possession inside the red zone. The SaberCats top ranked scoring offense capitalized on the great field position, with Gray hauling in a 2-yard touchdown reception, giving the SaberCats their first lead at, 35-34 in the third quarter.
With his fourth touchdown of the game, Gray broke a SaberCats franchise record for most receiving touchdowns in a season with 41 and gave San Jose a 42-41 lead. “Big Play” Reggie Gray finished with a team-high 14 receptions for 130 yards and four touchdowns.
After Nelson grabbed his second touchdown of the game, Portland answered with a 6-yard pass from Rowley to Lacey, also successfully completing the two-point conversion to tie the game at 49-49, the mark that would stand until overtime.
The SaberCats enter their bye week before hosting the Arizona Rattlers on Friday, July 31st, in a National Conference showdown on CBS Sports Network and 1220AM KDOW.
Players of the Game:
Offensive Player of the Game: WR Reggie Gray
Defensive Player of the Game: DB Ken Fontenette
Playmaker of the Game: WR Reggie Gray
Catch of the Game: WR V’Keon Lacey 4th QT over the boards
Highlight of the Game: WR Reggie Gray’s franchise record breaking 4th QT TD