Thunder pick up first win over New Mexico

The Utah Valley Thunder picked up their first franchise win after coming back from a 12-point deficit and scoring 32 unanswered points, leaving the New Mexico Wildcats in the dust, 55-34 in the McKay Events Center.

The Thunder found that they were in a hole early, but managed to dig out starting with defense, headed by veteran Antar Brame and rookie Duane Paul, which halted the Wildcats’ air attack. Former BYU player Chris Bolden jumped on a fumble recovery that would lead the Thunder offense to three straight touchdown passes to Akamu Aki, to lead at the half 34-18.

“We came out a little sluggish,” said Coach Chad DeGrenier. “I don’t know why. They got a couple big plays, but we were in the defensive position. Our guys started making plays offensively and then we just started making plays after that. It was exciting to watch.”

In the third quarter there was no question that Michael Affleck began to look comfortable in the pocket. For the game he threw the ball for 10-of-14 completions, 130 yards and 3 touchdowns–and ran for two touchdowns. Affleck did throw one interception but was never sacked the entire game. Affleck might as well have had a recliner and a big gulp behind his meaty line.

“You know, we started off really slow but it really motivated us to get our butts in gear. It was like the stress factor. We just thought, ‘we got to take it one series at a time and score every time,’ and that’s what we challenged ourselves to do every time we got the ball.”

Does this win make Utah Valley a legit team in the American Indoor Football Association?


There are lots of games left in the season, but one thing is for certain, the Thunder played great execution football.

In 27 plays Utah Valley scored 55 points, while New Mexico hiked the ball 48 times for 34 points. Utah Valley’s offensive line with JP Salisbury and Sikoti Uipi has a large part to do with the success of Affleck being so mobile and comfortable in the pocket.

“Everything that we do is because of our offensive line,” said Affleck. “I didn’t even get touched once tonight. The only time I got touched is when I was running.”

After such successful offense, defensively the Thunder pressured quarterback BJ Hall the whole night with three sacks. The Wildcats went for a wild 1-8 on third downs and 3-5 on fourth downs.

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