[ ARENA FOOTBALL ]
Islanders get burned
by Fire despite a strong
LOUISVILLE, Ky. » With the Hawaiian Islanders defense putting up a wall in front of the end zone, the Louisville Fire found unconventional ways to score in yesterday's arenafootball2 contest and eventually sneaked away with a 37-35 victory.
Louisville scored on a kickoff return, a bizarre pass play that included two laterals, and a fumble recovery as the Fire rallied from a 21-7 deficit to hand the Islanders their first loss of the season.
"I thought defensively we played well, but they made more big plays, huge plays that got them back in the game," Islanders coach Cal Lee said.
Louisville's Tony Stallings ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner with 2:54 left, to earn offensive player of the game honors in the Fire's season opener at Freedom Hall.
Hawaii quarterback Darnell Arceneaux passed for four touchdowns and ran for another. His brother, Anthony Arceneaux, caught two of those scoring throws and had an interception on defense.
But the Islanders struggled to find their rhythm on offense and dropped to 1-1.
"We couldn't get going and I thought we should have put the game out of reach in the first half," Lee said. "But we kept them alive with those big plays."
Louisville jumped ahead on the game's opening kickoff when Ryan Russell fielded Kimo Naehu's kick in the end zone and outran the Islanders' coverage team for a touchdown.
The Hawaii defense stymied the Fire offense for much of the first half to allow the Islanders to take a 21-7 lead. The Islanders stopped the Fire on downs at their own 1-yard line on Louisville's first possession and came up with an interception and two fumbles later in the half.
The Islanders capitalized as Darnell Arceneaux completed scoring throws to Anthony Arceneaux, Gabe Amey and Robert Kemfort.
But Louisville turned the tide of the game on the final play of the first half. With three seconds left and Louisville on its own 5, Fire quarterback Matt Sauk completed a pass to Dennis Fryzel, who worked his way upfield and lateraled the ball to Mike Mills before being tackled. Mills then lateraled to lineman Nick Myers, who took the ball into the end zone to cut Hawaii's lead to 21-14 at halftime.
"Going up 14 and receiving the (second-half kickoff) would have been a huge lift for us," Lee said. "When they scored, it gave them tremendous momentum and got them back in the game."
Louisville then tied the game on the first play of the second half as Darnell Arceneaux was hit by Jason Ferguson and fumbled in the end zone. Fryzel fell on the ball for the Louisville touchdown.
The teams traded the lead before Hawaii took a 35-31 advantage with 5:32 left in the game on a 1-yard run by Arceneaux, who then completed a pass to Nian Taylor for the 2-point conversion.
Louisville responded with a three-play drive capped by Stallings' 4-yard run to put the Fire up by two with 2:54 left.
Louisville then sealed the game with an interception by Mills with 41 seconds left.
"You always learn from your mistakes, and we made a ton of them," Lee said. "You have to learn from those mistakes and try to get better and the only thing to do is get back on track by practicing."
Louisville defensive specialist Justin Thomas broke up nine passes and recorded 10 tackles to earn defensive player of the game honors.
The Islanders play their first home game of the season on Saturday against Bossier-Shreveport at Blaisdell Arena. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
Fire 37, Islanders 35
At Freedom Hall
|Hawaiian Islanders (1-1)
|Louisville Fire (1-0)
LF--Ryan Russell 55 kickoff return (Marc Samuel kick)
HI--Anthony Arceneaux 19 pass from Darnell Arceneaux (Kimo Naehu kick)
HI--Gabe Amey 31 pass from D. Arceneaux (kick failed)
HI--Robert Kemfort 11 pass from D. Arceneaux (D. Arceneaux run)
LF--Nick Myers 16 pass from Matt Sauk (Samuel kick)
LF--Dennis Fryzel fumble recovery in end zone (Samuel kick)
HI--A. Arceneaux 4 pass from D. Arceneaux (kick failed)
LF--FG Samuel 27
LF--Tony Stallings 3 run (Samuel kick)
HI--D. Arceneaux 1 run (Nian Taylor pass from D. Arceneaux)
LF--Stallings 4 run (kick failed)
RUSHING -- Islanders: D. Arceneaux 4-41, Keiki Misipeka 2-22, Vai Notoa 3-8. Fire: Demetrius Forney 4-16, Stallings 2-7, Russell 1-2, Sauk 1-0.
PASSING -- Islanders: D. Arceneaux 17-41-1-207. Team 0-0-0-(-6). Fire: Sauk 23-30-1-242.
RECEIVING -- Islanders: Amey 7-108, Kemfort 3-21, A. Arceneaux 6-72, Aaron Smith 1-6. Fire:
James Scott 7-70, Fryzel 7-56, Stallings 4-50, Russell 4-49, Forney 1-(-3), Myers 0-16, Mike Mills 0-4.