The Las Vegas Locomotives won the first championship of the United Football League Friday with a 20-17 overtime defeat of the Florida Tuskers before 14,801 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. A complete game book can be obtained
Locos running back DeDe Dorsey, who scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to force overtime, was named the game’s Title Sports Drink Most Valuable Player. Las Vegas kicker Graham Gano drilled a 33-yard field goal in overtime for the win, igniting a spirited celebration on the Locos’ sideline and among their home fans in the stands.
Gano’s field goal came after Las Vegas cornerback Isaiah Trufant intercepted Tuskers quarterback Brooks Bollinger on a 3rd-and-7 play on the first possession of overtime. Trufant fumbled the ball after making the interception, but safety Tony Parrish pounced on the loose ball to give the Locos possession at Florida 14-yard line. Quarterback J.P. Losman took one snap to position the ball in the center of the field, setting the table for Gano’s game-winner.
The UFL’s overtime system allows each team at least one possession before entering a sudden-death format. After a 12-game regular season without an overtime, this was the was the first time that this rule modification was applied.
The game was a defensive struggle for three quarters. Florida carried a 7-3 lead into the fourth quarter, as each team squandered scoring opportunities in the first half. The most damaging was a fumble by Las Vegas on a 2nd-and-goal play early in the second quarter, which was forced by Tuskers linebacker Odell Thurman and recovered by linebacker Patrick Chukwurah.
The Tuskers led 7-0 at the time, courtesy of an 8-yard touchdown pass from Bollinger to Marcus Maxwell with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter. Florida had several opportunities to extend its lead in the second quarter, but penalties and replay reversals kept them from capitalizing. In one instance, a potential 41-yard field goal attempt was turned into a 51-yard attempt after a holding penalty, and it was missed by Tuskers kicker Matt Bryant. An interception by Darius Vinnett was wiped out by an offsides penalty, and a fumble recovery was overturned by a replay review.
Las Vegas took advantage of a Bollinger interception with 19 seconds remaining in the first half to score its first points of the game. Locos cornerback Trey Young picked off the pass at his own 38-yard line and returned it 13 yards to the Florida 49. Locos quarterback J.P. Losman then found wideout Samie Parker for a 21-yard gain and after two incomplete passes Gano converted from 46 yards for a halftime score of 7-3.
Each team punted on all three of its third-quarter possessions, but the game changed dramatically early in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for a wild finish.
Dorsey took a handoff on the fourth play of the period and dashed around right end for a 38-yard touchdown, giving his team its first lead of the day at 7-3.
Awakened by Dorsey’s scoring burst, the Tuskers offense then regained its typical efficiency, moving down the field 80 yards in five plays for Bollinger’s second touchdown of the day, this one 10 yards to Frank Murphy.
Las Vegas punted on its next possession, and Florida was on the move again with a gain of 14 yards on first down to reach its 49-yard line. Tatum Bell then fumbled, though Bollinger recovered. On the next play disaster struck for the Tuskers in the form of a sack and fumble by Locos’ defensive end Adrian Awasom. Locos nose tackle Ross Kolodziej recovered and advanced it 36 yards to the Florida 2-yard line. Dorsey then scored on his second attempt from the 1-yard line to give Las Vegas a 17-14 lead with 5:58 remaining.
Bollinger was not finished, as he caught fire and moved his club 69 yards in 10 plays, completing four passes to account for 61 of the yards. After a 1st-and-10 at the Las Vegas 11-yard line, though, Florida was unable to get in the end zone and settled for a 27-yard Bryant field goal to tie the game with 2:10 remaining.
The Tuskers forced Las Vegas into a three-and-out and took possession at their own 22-yard line with 1:12 remaining. They had a first down at the Las Vegas 49 with 58 seconds remaining after a 22-yard pass play to Michael Pittman. Three incompletions later, the Tuskers punted the ball back to Las Vegas with 26 seconds remaining in regulation, en route to the first overtime in UFL history.
MVP Dorsey finished the game with 98 total yards from scrimmage, including 66 on the ground and the two fourth-quarter touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 32 yards. Losman completed 21 of 35 passes for 193 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions, and was sacked four times. Tight end Adam Bergen led all Las Vegas receivers with seven catches for 52 yards, while Parker added five catches for a team-high 66 yards.
Bollinger completed 22 of 45 for 306 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and was sacked twice. Pittman had a team-high five receptions for 77 yards, while Maxwell caught five passes for a game-high 80 yards and the first-quarter touchdown. Tatum Bell rushed 14 times for 44 yards to pace the Tuskers, who managed just 2.4 yards per carry on 25 attempts (61 yards).
For the game, Florida outgained Las Vegas 358 to 260, and averaged 5.0 yards per play, to the Locos’ 3.9. In a wildly exciting game for fans and TV viewers, it was the Locos, however, who made the big plays when it counted most, as they persevered to win the first title in League history on their home field, albeit as the visiting team. The Tuskers were the home team by virtue of their 6-0 regular season record. The Locos finished 5-2, and more importantly, wear the crown of 2009 United Football League Champions.
For more information on the UFL and how to purchase tickets for the UFL’s “Premiere” season, please visit www.ufl-football.com. For group ticket sales, please call 877.UFL.2009.