Formula for Success Gets Diluted
David Curtis - Xtreme team reporter
Angeles - (27 February 2001) -- The
Los Angeles Xtreme tried on Sunday to concoct yet another heroic
win. And they almost made it -- they just didnt account
for an increasingly heavy downpour which compromised their panache.
that rain (or opposing talent, for that matter) was their chief
problem. While the team struggled all night, its first-half
performance had little to do with the weather. This point was
driven home by the visiting Memphis Maniax, who overcame a wet
ball and a sloppy field to drive for 229 yards and 15 points
before intermission. No, L.A. seemed mostly to be following
a pattern of slow starts.
slow, you say? Some answers: The offense had no first downs
in the first quarter and only two at the half, and one of these
required a bogus pass interference call. The defense, meanwhile,
surrendered 37 and 13 yards on the games first two plays
from scrimmage, and a touchdown on the fifth. It had been further
ripped for gains of 26, 27, 25, 21, and 28 when the initial
gun mercifully sounded.
took a blocked punt courtesy of Jeremaine Copeland, who went
on to tackle recovering Maniac Jack Kellogg on the play, to
give the Xtreme even a semblance of life. The breakthrough allowed
an eventual 40-yard knuckler over the crossbar by Jose Cortez,
but an opportunity to seize real momentum was lost after Darnell
McDonald was separated from the ball on what would have been
a 23-yard touchdown reception. Electricity in the crowd quickly
grew as the pass arced over the head of a defender to the much
taller McDonald near the back of the end zone; it fizzled immediately
when Memphis safety Kevin Peeples foiled his attempt to establish
possession with a timely blow.
regrouped at halftime, Coach Luginbills squad did manage
a 10-play, 72-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter.
This time they were the ones to earn first downs on the first
two plays from scrimmage, and an uninterrupted 6-yard hookup
between McDonald and Tommy Maddox soon narrowed the spread to
Maniax fumble next allowed for a brilliant 47-yard field goal
by Cortez in conditions which were by then truly horrid. The
feat was probably the kickers most impressive to date.
Unfortunately, Memphis would get three more points of its own
after intercepting Maddoxs worst pass to date. The QB
forced a telegraphed, intermediate pass to his slot receiver
which easily could have been taken to the house on a clear day.
the two-minute warning, the Maniax were in position to put the
contest out of reach with a potential nine-point lead. Yet defensive
and Jamal Duff stuffed a final running play for a four-yard
loss, which proved to be the difference on an ensuing missed
field goal. The Xtreme thus regained possession at their own
20 with 1:37 left on the clock, leaving the impression that
a miracle finish was again in store. Four pathetic, aquatic
incompletions at midfield squelched any such hope, however,
and first place in the Western Division became a fair-whether
ON THE ROSTER
Rico Mack, playing extensively for regular starter Shawn Stuckey,
had a monster game. The stat sheet only records six tackles,
but he also recovered a fumble, caused another, and tripped
up running back Rashaan Salaam on an otherwise certain 19-yard
touchdown romp. He had, moreover, perfect coverage on the tight
end who caught the opening score, forcing him to improvise and
the quarterback to buy time. And, oh yes, he nearly blocked
the opponents last field goal attempt (which of course
was missed anyway). Cornerback Dell McGee, on the other hand,
was trailing on three of the four first-half bombs allowed by
the L.A. defense. He also made a poor excuse for a tackle which
led to a conversion of third-and-7 in the second half.
felt McDonald legally caught his first "touchdown"
of the day, but then many thought Damon Dunn dropped the touch
he was credited with against Chicago. Memphis was wrongly penalized
for pass interference on a drive leading to an Xtreme field
goal, and failed to get a call when corner Terry Billups broke
up an end zone pass prematurely, but was compensated by non-calls
on L.A.s last two pass attempts of the night.