The Hitmen Outlast The Maniax
by Mike Mitchell - Hitmen Team Reporter
York - (18 March 2001) -- They
say good things come to those who wait. Well the wait is over
for NY/NJ Hitmen fans. The Hitmen finally defended their home
turf by beating the Memphis Maniax 16-15 in a dramatic come
from behind victory at the Meadowlands Saturday Night. The Hitmen
are now 3 and 4 and they now have sole possesion of The 2nd
playoff spot in the east with only 3 weeks remaining in the
playoff picture is starting to clear up for the Hitmen and they
now have complete control of their playoff destiny.
Saturday night's game, things weren't so clear for the Hitmen.
Memphis brought the XFL's #1 offense into the Meadowlands last
night but nothing could prepare them for the elements of a windy
and muggy Giants Stadium.
got off to a bad start in the outset, From their very first
play at scrimmage, Wally Richardson's first pass mis-fired deep
and was picked off by Jackie Kellog. The Maniax took over at
the NY 30 and drove down to the NY 12. On 3rd and 7, the Hitmen
made their first of many big plays, when a scrambling Jim Druckenmiller
was stripped of the football by Brad Trout at The 3, The ball
rolled into the endzone and was recovered by Hitmen corner,
Donnie Caldwell. The Hitmen dodged a bullet in the early going
and took over at the 20.
New York offense failed to generate a first down and punted
back To Memphis. NY's defense stepped up again and forced a
3 and out. A 63 yard punt return by Kirby Dar Dar was brought
back after a penalty.
first quarter went flying by with both teams trading scoreless
posession. The Hitmen finally started to get things rolling
by the end of the quarter. Wally Richardson began to lead the
Hitmen on their first scoring drive of the day. The drive took
12 plays and NY gained 69 yards down to the Memphis 10 before
having to settle for a Leo Araguz 27 yard field goal. Hitmen
3 Memphis 0
would answer the Hitmen's score immediately with a 12 play 59
yard drive led by Jim Druckenmiller and the running of Rashaan
Salaam replacement, Brent Moss. Both players aided The Maniaxx
drive down to the NY 5. Jim Druckenmiller hit tight end Mark
Thomas in the back of the endzone for 6 points. Memphis pat
attempt failed. Memphis 6 NY 3
Hitmen on their next drive drove 73 yards to set up a potential
game tying field goal. The rainy conditions forced a bad snap
by long snapper, Ryan Collins. No Field goal attempt was made
as holder, Charles Puleri was instantly tackled by 3 Memphis
players. Instead of a tie-game, Memphis now had the momentum.
took quick advantage of The NY miscue and drove 64 yards in
6 plays. Druckenmiller threw his second scoring pass of the
day to Daryl Hobbs from 6 yards out. Memphis once again failed
to convert the extra point but their lead was now 12 to 3.
Hitmen's next possesion went 3 and out. Just as the half was
coming to a close,with 1:04 remaining, Memphis drove 25 yards
in 7 plays to set up a 41 yard field goal by Jeff Hall who extended
the Maniax lead over NY to 15-3.
Hitmen trailed by 12 at the half and the weather as well as
the game continued to be rough on NY fans. But there was a small
glimmer of hope. The Maniax had made a habit in their first
6 games of blowing 1st half leads.
2nd half began with the Hitmen stopping Memphis on their first
drive. The Hitmen offense then drove 44 yards to the Maniax
8 yard line. The Hitmen failed to punch it in the endzone. NY
was forced to settle for a field goal from 25 yards out. Leo
Araguz inexcusably missed the chip shot field goal.
Hitmen defense answered yet again and forced another 3 and out
from the high powered Memphis Offense. Jeff Hall's punt attempt
was partially blocked and one of the best players on the field
on this night, Mike Archie recovered the 13 yard shank to set
up the NY offense at the Memphis 35. At this point, the Hitmen's
best runner Joe Aska was inserted into the game and he began
to deliver. As they say, better late then never. Aska put up
3 first downs running the ball and Wally Richardson capped off
The 5 play 35 yard drive with a scoring pass to Zola Davis from
9 yards out. The Memphis lead was now 15 to 9. NY would make
the extra point try when Richardson connected with Ryan Collins
to close the gap to 15-10. The extra point would become very
crucial by the time the game was over.
95 yards rushing from Brent Moss, Jim Druckenmiller's game soured
in the second half thanks to the stingy weather and The XFL's
#1 pass defense in NY. Memphis was forced to punt and Hall was
once again nearly blocked. The Hitmen took over at their own
33. two big first down runs by The poorly used Joe Aska and
a beautiful catch by Mike Archie put The Hitmen in Memphis territory.
At The 20, NY/NJ failed to convert a first down. Out came the
coldest kicker in the XFL, Leo Araguz. Araguz added to his reputation
by missing yet another field goal, this time from 37 yards out.
Thanks to Araguz's two missed chip shot field goals, NY was
still trailing Memphis by 5 late in the 4th quarter.
Maniax got the football at their own 27 and began to run out
the clock. A pass interference penalty gave Memphis a first
down and forced the Hitmen to start using timeouts. The Hitmen
defense was called upon yet again to save the day for the offense
and they did as they stopped Memphis on a key 3rd and 1. The
Maniaxx punted at the 2 minute warning.
took over at their own 36. With only 2 minutes left, Wally Richardson
needed to take his team go the length of the field and that's
what he began to do. 1st and 10, Wally throws a 16 yard completion
to Zola Davis.
play, a 14 yard completion to Anthony Dicosmo.
ticking, 6 yard pass to Dicosmo, 2nd and 4 from the Memphis
big first down pass by Wally to Davis.
at Memphis 16 yard line, 2 plays later, Richardson connects
with Kirby Dar Dar on a pretty screen that Kirby takes all the
way down to the 1 yard line.
seconds left. Aska stopped at the goaline.
2nd down, Aska stuffed in the backfield, loss of 4 on the play.
running out, Hitmen spike the ball to stop the clock. The Hitmen
get a break as Memphis is flagged for an illegal substition.
The penalty gives 3rd down back to the Hitmen. The remaining
thousands of Hitmen fans who braced the cold, the rain and the
fog on St. Patrick's Day, were standing on their edges of their
seats watching this dramatic finish.
9 seconds remaining, Wally Richardson rolled out and connected
with Zola Davis to give the Hitmen the lead and the eventual
win. The extra point was no good but the score was now NY 16
had one last hail mary attempt that was intercepted by Donnie
paid attendance was 22, 609, The live attendance was 15,781
and the fans that stuck by the Hitmen till the end were rewarded
for their loyalty.
Richardson is now 3 and 1 as a starter for NY/NJ. he finished
the game 22 of 35 for 195 yards and 2 TD's. He was clearly the
games MVP. His more celebrated counterpart, Jim Druckenmiller
finished the game 10 of 26 for just 89 yards! Zola Davis was
also a star in this game as he caught 7 passes for 74 yards
and 2 TDS.
the game Israel Raybon, who went down with an ankle sprain in
the game, stated that he was unsure of whether or not, he will
return to the field soon. He did however express happiness over
news that Birmingham had lost to the Outlaws. "We have
it all in our hands now" Raybon stated.
Richardson called his late game heroics, "His best comeback
drive as a pro." Wally also recognized the importance of
next weeks showdown with Orlando on TNN. "I owe this team
one after letting them down when we played Orlando earlier this
Hitmen were in good spirits after the game. The same could not
be said of Kippy Brown and his Maniax. When asked if conditioning
was a factor in his teams second half breakdowns, Brown took
a defensive approach and stated "These players aren't working
hard enough, ask them if they lost because they worked too much."
clear how important this game was for both teams. The Maniaxx's
backs are against the wall and the Hitmen may be building towards
something special. Only time will tell.