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Article: Close Call: VooDoo scores late, hold on to win home

this is a discussion within the Voodoo Community Forum; CLOSE CALL VooDoo scores late, holds on to win home opener vs. San Jose Monday, February 14, 2005 To beat the defending ArenaBowl champion San Jose SaberCats, VooDoo coach Mike Neu not only knew his team would have to play ...

 
 
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Old 02-16-2005, 12:54 AM   #1
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Article: Close Call: VooDoo scores late, hold on to win home

CLOSE CALL
VooDoo scores late, holds on to win home opener vs. San Jose

Monday, February 14, 2005

To beat the defending ArenaBowl champion San Jose SaberCats, VooDoo coach Mike Neu not only knew his team would have to play almost perfect football, but it would have to take some risks.

A gamble with less than one minute remaining didn't pay dividends immediately, but its objective was reached.

Following a 13-yard touchdown pass from Andy Kelly to Jacques Rumph with 50 seconds remaining, Neu elected to go for an onside kick. The attempt failed, and San Jose scored, but the VooDoo had enough time remaining for a winning drive.

It was culminated by Aaron Bailey's diving 21-yard catch in the end zone, and New Orleans won its home opener 62-61 Sunday at New Orleans Arena.

"In that situation, I did not want to give San Jose the last possession of the football game," Neu said. "It would have been a tough task trying to defend that football team, and we knew they have been in several big games over the years, so we knew they would just dink and dunk it right down the field."

As it ended up, the VooDoo (2-1) still almost scored too early. The winning drive took three plays and 16 seconds, going for 36 yards.

San Jose (1-2) had 26 seconds remaining, but a holding penalty against fullback George Williams backed the SaberCats up to their three, and even after a 14-yard completion from Mark Grieb to Rashied Davis, there was 12 seconds remaining.

Following two more passes for a combined 16 yards to the VooDoo 17, San Jose attempted a winning field goal. But kicker Dan Frantz missed the 32-yard try to the right as time expired.

"We knew it was a tough home opener, and when you're striving to get to the top, you've got to beat the best," Neu said. "Our fans were the best today, and they were the reason why that guy missed that field goal with no time left on that clock. I kept looking at that back judge (on the field-goal try) to see what kind of signal he was going to give."

The game's final score marked a complete turnaround from last season's matchup. In San Jose on May 1, the SaberCats outscored the VooDoo 40-7 in the second half to take a 68-34 win.

Coach Darren Arbet said he knew this game would be a little tougher.

"It was a good game, both teams played well right down to the end, and they obviously made one more play than we did," he said. "You have to give the VooDoo credit. They played a heck of a game, and they did the job."

Much of the credit for New Orleans being in position to win the game goes to Kelly.

He set the franchise record for touchdown passes in a game with eight, and for the second consecutive week he did not throw an interception. For the season, he has thrown 20 touchdowns and one interception.

In the first half he threw two incompletions, which was the third consecutive half he accomplished that feat. For the game, he was 33-of-47 for 340 yards.

To start the second half, the VooDoo went on a 12-play, 32-yard drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown run by Bailey. Kelly was 5-of-12 on the drive, but it included three dropped passes.

The big play was on third-and-goal from San Jose's five, Thabiti Davis caught a pass near the right sideline, reversed field and was slammed into the boards at the one.

"They changed their defense a little in the second half, and they came out a little more aggressive," Kelly said. "We didn't handle it great, but we were able to keep the drive alive, and the main thing was that we were able to make some adjustments after that, and we were able to handle it a little better."

In the first half Bailey was Kelly's primary target, catching six passes for 92 yards and three touchdowns.

The final score of the half came when Bailey caught a 16-yard scoring strike despite excellent coverage. The play, which tied the score at 35 heading into halftime, came after the SaberCats successfully executed an onside kick with 45 seconds to go before the break. San Jose took a 35-28 lead after scoring in three plays, and the drive was capped by a 27-yard pass from Grieb to James Roe.

Bailey led the VooDoo in catches (12), receiving yards (166) and touchdowns (five). For the SaberCats, Roe had a similar day with 13 receptions for 168 yards and five touchdowns.

Times-Picayune aricle from NOLA.com
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