Playoff bound

Earlier this season Utah was 0-9 and had every reason to schedule its vacation plans early. After making the playoffs in each of its first two years, the Blaze were in danger of missing the post season for the first time in team history.

Six weeks and four wins later, the Blaze were right back in the playoff hunt needing a win against the L. A. Avengers to keep their playoff hopes alive. Luckily for the Blaze, the Arena Football gods were smiling down on Danny White’s team as they escaped with a 65-56 win.

“This win is a tribute to the resiliency of this team in the second half of the season,” Blaze coach Danny White said. “This game is a perfect example of a bunch of guys taking ownership of this team who refuse to give up.”

With six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Utah Blaze held a 51-50 lead after quarterback Joe Germaine found Huey Whittacker in the end zone for the go-ahead-score. Needing a stop, Utah forced the Avengers on the following possession to a fourth and seven. On what looked to be a touchdown reception for the Avengers, Utah defensive back Damon Mason recovered a fumble in the end zone and returned it 22 yards to give the Blaze field possession with less than three minutes on the clock.

After an incomplete pass Germaine found receiver JJ McKelvey down the field for a touchdown, which all but salted the game for the Blaze. An insurance interception by defensive back Eddie Canonico was overturned by a penalty, but Canonico darted around the field as precious seconds ticked off the clock for the Avengers.

The resurrection of the season came after Utah got its first win of the season on May 3, against the Kansas City Brigade. Since then the Blaze have won four of five and are now poised and ready to head into the post season.

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