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Avengers looking to avoid turnovers

July 02, 2007|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

If the Avengers are going to reach this year's ArenaBowl, which will be held in New Orleans on July 29, they have to hold on to the football.

During the regular season, the Avengers had 21 turnovers in their seven losses and seven in their nine victories.

So the Avengers know what they have to do, starting with tonight's wild-card game against Utah at Staples Center.

"Obviously, we emphasize taking care of the football all of the time," Coach Ed Hodgkiss said of the Avengers, who are 0-4 in playoff games. "So we're not trying to do anything different.

"We know that we have to go on a non-turnover streak in order to [reach the ArenaBowl]. We're confident that we can do it, because we did it before."

Turnovers were a problem against Utah last week when the Avengers lost the ball a franchise-record six times in a 47-37 defeat to close the regular season. The Avengers had five consecutive drives end with interceptions to start the second half and were held scoreless in the third quarter.

Look for quarterback Sonny Cumbie, who had four passes picked off, to be better prepared for the Blaze tonight.

"We changed some things that he may not have been comfortable with," Hodgkiss said about Cumbie, who set team single-season records in passing yards (4,370) and completions (378).

AVENGERS TONIGHT

vs. Utah, 7, ESPN2

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 570, 1330.

Records -- Avengers 9-7, Blaze 8-8.

Record vs. Blaze (regular season) -- 0-2.

Update -- Avengers fullback Lonnie Ford did not play last week against Utah because of a knee sprain, which probably will force him to sit out tonight's game.

Tickets -- 1-888-AVENGERS.

lonnie.white@latimes.com

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