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Sunday, August 1, 2004



[ ARENA FOOTBALL ]

Islanders’ playoff
hopes dashed by Blitz


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. >> The Hawaiian Islanders entered their regular-season finale hoping to sneak into the arenafootball2 playoffs. But the Bakersfield Blitz slammed the door on those hopes with a 58-38 win yesterday to end the Islanders' season.

The Islanders could have forced a three-way tie for the National Conference's final two wildcard berths with a win. However, the tiebreaker scenarios didn't come into play as the Islanders couldn't keep up with the Blitz in front of a record crowd of 7,078 at Bakersfield Centennial Garden.

Bakersfield, the West Division champion, improved to 11-5 and clinched the second seed in the National Conference. The Blitz also earned a first-round bye in the playoffs and will host a second-round game next week.

A year after winning the West Division title, the Islanders closed their third season in af2 at 8-8 with their most lopsided loss of the season.

"I really appreciated the effort they gave all through the season," Islanders coach Cal Lee said. "We weren't planning on a season like this, but sometimes that happens. The bar is set high and if you don't reach the bar it isn't satisfactory."

The Islanders kept pace with Bakersfield early in the game, but the Blitz scored on all nine of their possessions to pull away.

Quarterback Chad Elliott, the offensive player of the game, led an efficient Bakersfield offense, completing 14 of 19 passes for 222 yards and five touchdowns. Nathan Munson caught two touchdown passes and rushed for another. Steve Wofford had two rushing scores and a TD reception.

The Islanders were without two of their most productive weapons on offense as Anthony Arceneaux and Gabe Amey didn't make the trip due to injuries.

"That's what happens in the game of football. It happens to everybody," Lee said of the rash of injuries that hampered the Islanders throughout the season. "Last year we didn't have too many injuries and this year it's been one after another."

Nian Taylor caught seven passes for 68 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Shawn Withy-Allen completed 18 of 28 attempts for 206 yards and ran for two touchdowns.

With the receiving corps depleted, backup quarterback Darnell Arceneaux lined up at receiver and caught two passes for 28 yards. Teruhiro Ura made his first start at offensive specialist and had one catch.

The Islanders used the running game to control the clock early in the contest when trading scores with the Blitz.

Bakersfield came up with the first defensive stop of the game to take control.

The Islanders gave the ball up on downs when Vai Notoa was stopped short of the goal line on fourth down. The Blitz capitalized with a 35-yard TD pass from Elliott to Eric Mahanke to take a 21-13 lead.

The ensuing kickoff then hit off the goal post and was recovered by Mahanke at the Islanders 7. Wofford scored two plays later, giving the Blitz a comfortable cushion.

Bakersfield later scored 17 unanswered points to open up a 44-20 lead in the third quarter. A fumble by Chauncey Ako inside the Blitz 5 led to a 19-yard touchdown pass from Elliott to Wofford to cap the run.

The Islanders scored on their last three possessions of the game, but couldn't muster a defensive stop.

"The bottom line is you have to win or else all that other stuff doesn't matter, and we didn't play really well," Lee said.

Munson was named the ironman of the game and Bakersfield's Kenny Haslip was the defensive player of the game.

Blitz 59-38, Islanders

At Bakersfield Centennial Garden

Islanders (8-8) 13 7 6 12 -- 38
Blitz (11-5) 14 17 13 14 -- 58

HI--Nian Taylor 18 pass from Shawn Withy-Allen (kick failed)
BB--Nathan Munson 41 pass from Chad Elliott (Brian Walker kick)
HI--Withy-Allen 10 run (Kimo Naehu kick)
BB--Rennard Reynolds 15 pass from Elliott (Walker kick)
BB--Eric Mahanke 35 pass from Elliott (Walker kick)
BB--Steve Wofford 7 run (Walker kick)
HI--Chauncey Ako 1 run (Naehu kick)
BB--FG Walker 23
BB--Munson 14 pass from Elliott (Walker kick)
BB--Wofford 19 pass from Elliott (kick failed)
HI--Taylor 6 pass from Withy-Allen (pass failed)
BB--Munson 3 run (Walker kick)
HI--Withy-Allen 1 run (pass failed)
BB--Wofford 9 run (Walker kick)
HI--Taylor 3 pass from Withy-Allen (pass failed)

RUSHING -- Islanders: Ako 7-34, Vai Notoa 8-20, Withy-Allen 3-13. Blitz: Wofford 3-17, Jeff Dover 1-17, Elliott 2-9, Ben McCombs 2-5, Nick Onaindia 2-4, Munson 1-3.

PASSING -- Islanders: Withy-Allen 18-28-0-206, Darnell Arceneaux 0-1-0-0, Team 0-0-0-1. Blitz: Elliott 14-19-0-222, Dover 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING -- Islanders: Taylor 7-68, Aaron Smith 4-37, Johnny Wayfer 2-43, Arceneaux 2-28, Teruhiro Ura 1-13, Randyn Akiona 1-12, Morrie Roe 1-5. Blitz: Munson 2-55, Mahanke 3-63, Reynolds 4-49, Wofford 4-41, Onaindia 1-14.

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