A sterling defensive effort by the Las Vegas Locos ended the Omaha Nighthawks’ perfect start and created a logjam atop the UFL standings.
The Locos forced three Omaha turnovers and allowed Nighthawks quarterback Jeff Garcia little room to throw on their way to a 22-10 victory Friday night at Sam Boyd Stadium. The win vaults Las Vegas into a first-place tie with the Nighthawks at 2-1 and the hosts edge the tie-breaker head-to-head. The Hartford Colonials can join them by defeating the Florida Tuskers at home on Saturday afternoon (3pm EDT, Versus).
Las Vegas allowed Garcia to drive the Nighthawks for a touchdown on their first possession and then kept Omaha out of the end zone the rest of the night. Omaha gained just 65 rushing yards on 20 carries and never came close to scoring in the second half.
Isaiah Trufant intercepted Garcia twice, tying a league record for interceptions in a game, the first of which provided the turning point in the contest. The Locos trailed for much of the first half before Trufant stepped in front of Roy Hall to pick off Garcia at the Omaha 27-yard line and ran for the right corner of the end zone with 3:14 left in the second quarter. The score gave the Locos a 16-10 halftime edge and the defense took over from there, allowing Omaha 106 second-half yards.
Las Vegas mounted only one strong drive in the second half, but that 15-play, 75-yard effort spanned more than seven minutes and ended with the Locos firmly in control when Marcel Shipp scored on a 14-yard run with 10:45 left to play. Shipp started right, then cut back left across the entire Nighthawks defense to reach the end zone. He finished with 45 yards on 20 carries.
DeDe Dorsey continued his torrid pace for Las Vegas, compiling 147 all-purpose yards to add to the 204 he gained last week, including a 61-yard reception on a slick gadget play. Locos quarterback Tim Rattay looped a lateral to the left side for wideout Tab Perry, who waited a beat before throwing long back to the right side for Dorsey, who sprinted down the right sideline for a huge gain before being tackled at the Omaha 3. The drive stalled, though, and the Locos settled for a Steve Hauschka 25-yard field goal to pull within 10-9 at the 4:15 mark of the second quarter.
Las Vegas fizzled out twice inside the Omaha 10 and Hauschka, the Locos’ new kicker, connected for three first-half field goals, tying a league record for field goals in a single game.
Omaha scored on its first possession when Garcia found Robert Ferguson on a deep crossing pattern and the receiver shook a tackle right outside the end zone before cashing in on a 21-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead. The Nighthawks looked ready to take control after picking off Rattay deep in Locos territory on the next play from scrimmage, but Ahman Green fumbled at the Las Vegas 8 and Wale Dada recovered for the Locos.
Garcia finished 22-of-37 for 168 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for Omaha, while Rattay completed 15-of-24 passes for 126 yards with one interception for Las Vegas.
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