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Monday, July 28, 2003



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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Islanders' Evile Puna looked for running room against Blitz defender J'Sharlon Jones during last night's game.



Islanders get blitzed

They give up more points
than in any game this season
and lose their regular-season
finale to Bakersfield 75-61


The bad news for the Hawaiian Islanders came in the form of a 75-61 loss to the Bakersfield Blitz in last night's arenafootball2 regular-season finale at Blaisdell Arena.

The good news is they won't have to see Blitz quarterback Chad Elliot and receiver Eric Mahanke for a while.

Elliot passed for 253 yards and nine touchdowns, while Mahanke caught seven scoring passes as the Blitz scored on nine straight possessions at one stretch. Bakersfield's 75 points was the highest point total given up by the Islanders this season.

In three games against the Islanders this season, Elliot accounted for 19 touchdown passes, with 11 going to Mahanke.

"Those two have a communication like no other athletes I've been around," Bakersfield coach James Fuller said. "I call the play and I leave it up to them to make the check."

Bakersfield improved to 8-7-1, moving over .500 for the first time this season. Hawaii closed the regular season at 10-6.

The Bakersfield win came eight days after Blitz fullback/linebacker Julian Yearwood collapsed during a game at Wichita and later died.

"It means a lot," Fuller said of the road win. "The guys were really hurt this week. It was good we rode the emotions early and held on to it late.

"It was definitely a tribute to come out here and play," he added. "I know he's watching us and guiding us and hopefully he'll guide us all the way to the big dance."

The loss means that the Islanders, the National Conference West Division champions, will host division rival Wichita in the first round of the af2 playoffs Friday at Blaisdell Arena. Bakersfield will play at Arkansas on Saturday.

Islanders receiver Nian Taylor returned after missing three games with a hamstring injury and led the Islanders with nine receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bakersfield fullback Nathan Buergey recovered his own fumble last night against the Islanders.



The Blitz, who arrived Saturday afternoon, showed no sign of jet lag as they sliced through the Islanders defense throughout the first half.

The Islanders were without two starters in the secondary in Eddie Klaneski (shoulder) and Anthony Arceneaux (hip), who rested their injuries before going into the playoffs, and the Blitz took advantage of the team's inexperience.

"You could tell without Eddie Klaneski at (defensive specialist) they were having trouble with different kinds of reads and different types of combos," said Mahanke, who caught nine passes for 139 yards.

"It wasn't so much picking on anybody, it was just taking what they gave us."

Elliot completed 11 of 12 passes for 187 yards and six touchdowns in the first half. Mahanke had six catches for 101 yards and five touchdowns before halftime.

The Islanders trailed 48-28 at the half, setting a franchise record for points surrendered in the first half.

Bakersfield continued to roll in the second half with two more Elliot touchdown passes to open the third period.

By design, Mike Tillis took over at quarterback for Hawaii in place of starter Darnell Arceneaux in the second half and threw four touchdown passes to give the Islanders hope for a miracle comeback.

The Blitz's streak of scoring drives ended at nine on an interception by Hawaii's Kohei Satomi with 1:16 left in the third quarter.

The Islanders capitalized with a scoring drive aided by four Bakersfield penalties. Josh White's 1-yard plunge cut the Blitz lead to 61-49 with 11:14 left in the game.

But Mahanke and Elliot hooked up for their seventh touchdown connection on a 12-yard strike with 7:41 left and Nick Onaindia scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to snuff Hawaii's hopes for a late rally.

"You have to give them a lot of credit," Islanders coach Cal Lee said. "They played well offensively and defensively and didn't make too many mistakes. They gave us a lesson that we should be thankful for learning."

Notes: The Blitz won the season series between the teams 2-1. ... Both teams wore stickers with the number 42 on their helmets in honor of Yearwood. The Blitz also wore black wristbands bearing Yearwood's number. ... Tickets for Friday's playoff game are available at the Blaisdell Arena box office. Season ticket holders can purchase their seats today. All unsold tickets go on sale to the general public tomorrow.


Blitz 75, Islanders 61

At Blaisdell Arena
Bakersfield Blitz (8-7-1) 14 27 13 14 -- 75
Hawaiian Islanders (10-6) 8 20 14 19 -- 61

FIRST QUARTER
BB--Ryan Sloth 41 pass from Chad Elliot (Jon Baker kick).
BB--Nick Onaindia 3 run (Baker kick).
HI--Chris Paogofie 9 run (Andy Ramos run).
SECOND QUARTER
BB--Eric Mahanke 5 pass from Elliot (Baker kick).
BB--Mahanke 28 pass from Elliot (Baker kick).
HI--Nian Taylor 28 pass from Darnell Arceneaux (Kimo Naehu kick).
BB--Mahanke 12 pass from Elliot (kick failed).
HI--Arceneaux 5 run (kick failed).
BB--Mahanke 30 pass from Elliot (Baker kick).
HI--Darrell Jones 18 pass from Arceneaux (Naehu kick).
BB--Mahanke 12 pass from Elliot (Baker kick).
THIRD QUARTER
BB--Mahanke 11 pass from Elliot (Baker kick).
HI--Isaac White 33 pass from Mike Tillis (Naehu kick).
BB--Nathan Buergey 11 pass from Elliot (kick failed).
HI--Darrick Branch 27 pass from Tillis (Naehu kick).
FOURTH QUARTER
HI--Josh White 1 run (Naehu kick).
BB--Mahanke 12 pass from Elliot (Baker kick).
HI--Taylor 14 pass from Mike Tillis (pass failed).
BB--Onaindia 16 run (Baker kick).
HI--Taylor 9 pass from Tillis (run failed).

RUSHING--Blitz: Onaindia 4-22, York Frierson 1-2, Ryan Sloth 1-1, Buergey 2-(-4). Islanders: Paogofie 3-40, Arceneaux 3-7, J. White 4-6, Tillis 1-0.
PASSING--Blitz: Elliot 16-24-1-253. Islanders: Arceneaux 8-19-2-138, Tillis 10-17-0-148.
RECEIVING--Blitz: Mahanke 9-139, Kusanti Abdul-Salaam 3-45, Sloth 2-52, Buergey 1-11, Frierson 1-6. Islanders: Taylor 9-140, I. White 2-38, Branch 2-35, J. White 1-33, D. Jones 1-18, Evile Puna 1-14, Leroy Shelton 1-6, Tony Tata 1-2.
A--3,988.

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