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ARENA FOOTBALL

San Jose's Last Stand Wins Title

June 28, 2004|From Associated Press

Mark Grieb knew that it would take an extraordinary performance to win an Arena Football League championship on the road -- and that's what he and the San Jose SaberCats gave.

Grieb set an ArenaBowl record with eight touchdown passes in a 69-62 win over the Arizona Rattlers on Sunday at Phoenix.

"Guys talked all week long about it wasn't going to be easy to come in here and get it done, that we'd have to play four quarters of football, and that's what we did," he said.

James Roe caught five touchdown passes to tie three more records, and the SaberCats won their second title in three years.

"All year long they hung in there and never gave up," SaberCat Coach Darren Arbet said. "I knew they weren't going to give up there at the end."

After nearly an hour of unrelenting offense, the game's final minute turned on defense.

Arizona scored with 31 seconds left to get to 63-62, and Coach Danny White opted for a two-point conversion. Sherdrick Bonner rolled left and passed low to Hunkie Cooper, but San Jose's Omarr Smith broke up the pass.

"There was really no choice but to go for two, try to get the lead, force them to score and put pressure on them," White said.

San Jose guard Chuck Reed took the ensuing onside kick, lumbering seven yards to score with 30 seconds remaining.

But Dan Frantz missed the point-after attempt, leaving Arizona within seven points.

As time ticked off, Bonner found Orshawante Bryant for three first downs -- the last a 15-yard catch setting up the Rattlers on the San Jose two-yard line with two seconds left. Rashied Davis smothered Cooper on Arizona's final play, knocking down the pass as the clock expired.

"We had a zone route called, and Hunkie made the read and got tripped up by the guy when I was throwing the ball," Bonner said.

San Jose's 2002 championship win came in a 52-14 rout of the Rattlers for the most lopsided win in ArenaBowl history.

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