Power lose inaugural game
By Jerry DiPaola, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, March 12, 2011
A boisterous crowd of 13,904 people at Consol Energy Center welcomed the Arena Football League back to Pittsburgh for the first time in 21 years Friday night.
Fans were treated to a bit of everything — players thrown over the boards, an interception played off the wall, 15 touchdowns and a game-tying field goal that sent the game into overtime.
The hometown Power, though, lost to the Philadelphia Soul, 58-52, when defensive back Mike Brown returned an interception 15 yards for the sudden-death victory.
League rules call for each team to have a possession in overtime, but Power quarterback Bernard Morris' interception ended the game, with no need for the Soul offense to take the field.
"They played 60 minutes hard," Power coach Chris Siegfried said, "but we needed a few more hard minutes. The experience showed for them, and our lack of experience showed a little bit."
Power kicker Paul Edinger forced overtime with a 35-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. The kick was set up when Pittsburgh recovered an onside kick after Morris was tackled for a safety.
After a slow start, Soul quarterback Justin Allgood completed 25 of 36 passes for 300 yards and five touchdowns, all to receiver Donovan Morgan.
Morris was hot early, completing his first 11 attempts for 142 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Power to a 27-24 halftime lead. In all, he completed 24 of 37 for 264 yards and five touchdowns, but his interceptions stunted the Power's momentum and led to a bitter ending to opening night.
The second interception occurred with the Power trailing, 44-41, in the fourth quarter. The errant throw was fielded off the boards in the end zone by Soul defensive back Tanner Varner. The Soul countered almost immediately with a touchdown to take a 50-41 lead.
The Power scored on the second snap of their existence when Morris found receiver Jason Willis for a 37-yard score with 13:47 left in the first quarter.
The Soul tied the score at 7-7 on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Allgood to Morgan.
The Power snapped the tie a few minutes later when Aliquippa graduate Mike Washington caught a 21-yard touchdown from Morris.
After the Power defense stopped the Soul on four downs on pass breakups by defensive back Royce Adams and Carlos Campbell — punting is not allowed — the Power took possession on their 14.
On the next play, the Power broke out to a 21-7 lead on Morris' touchdown pass to Lonnell Dewalt.
In six snaps in the first quarter, the Power scored three touchdowns.
"The way the first half went, I thought if we could just keep that going for four quarters, it would be a great inaugural victory for the Pittsburgh Power," Siegfried said. "It almost like we were unstoppable."
Siegfried knew that couldn't last.
"At some point in time, something is going to happen, and it's how you weather that storm," he said. "Arena football is something like basketball. It's a game of runs."
Morris hit only 13 of 25 passes in the second half, helping the Soul to rally from a 27-14 deficit that the Power built in the second quarter.
"We were off balance, it seemed like, in the second half," Siegfried said.
The Power took the 27-14 lead after a 2-yard touchdown run by Duquesne University and Gateway High School graduate Josh Rue, who broke two tackles before rumbling into the end zone.
The touchdown was set up by two personal fouls against Varner, including one when he dumped receiver Eddie Thompson over the boards and into the Soul's bench.
Varner's interception in the end zone late in the first half was Morris' only incompletion in 12 attempts.
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