The Utah Valley Thunder, Utah County’s new indoor football team, began its inaugural season against the Wyoming Cavalry last week. The Thunder hung with the Cavalry nearly the whole game, but found down the stretch that in arena football, things can change in a matter of seconds. The Thunder surrendered their first home game to Wyoming 62-34.
Local Timpview High School (2002) quarterback Michael Affleck completed 25-of-37 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough for Wyoming, who had a bad taste in their mouth after a loss in the Arena Bowl season. The Thunder led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter, but the lead would later deteriorate after three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter by the Calvary. The Thunder trailed 30-13 at halftime.
“I told them at halftime that it’s an arena game and things can change like that,” said Thunder coach Chad DeGrenier. “We scored twice on the free plays and [the referees] called it dead. Then they get a goal-line stand, and that’s unacceptable when you’re on the inch line to not get a push. That’s 14 points. Who knows what would have happened. Our inexperience showed tonight. We’re going to be a better team, better prepared. I’m excited about what we did, but I’m disappointed with the let downs in the second and fourth quarters.”
The Cavalry’s offense saw no signs of stopping as they scored on the beginning play of the second half, scoring a touchdown and a two-point conversion, making it 38-20 in favor of Wyoming.
But just when the Thunder looked like they were through, they started playing defense and stopped Wyoming three times down the field in the second half. Duane Paul from Weber State gave the Thunder momentum with a sack and interception off a tipped pass that would lead into two touchdowns. Ending the third, it was 38-34.
However, in Fourth Quarter there was no Thunder. With 9:30 left in regulation, the Thunder were in scoring position, but were stuffed on the Wyoming one-yard line. This hindered UV’s chance of scoring in the fourth.
“That kind of took the wind out of our sails. That’s no excuse, though, we should have been able to stop them in the next series and come back and score,” Affleck said. “That’s the difference in the arena game and the outdoor game. You can score really quick and things can shift real easily.”
Wyoming tacked 26 unanswered points on the board to end the Thunder’s kick-off party.
“We came out and played good, but penalties killed us,” said defensive back Antar Brame. “I believe we had 15 of them for about 140 yards. First game, there are usually a lot of rookies on the team, but we came out and played good. So next, we will come back and get a win next week.”
It wasn’t at a completely disappointing loss, given that UV hung around most of the game with a team that almost won the Arena Championship. Also, more than 3,000 fans showed up, and anytime a football left the stands, fans were encouraged to keep it.