Brooks Bollinger threw for 308 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to lead Florida to a 27-20 victory over Las Vegas on Saturday night in front of 9,103 fans at Sam Boyd Stadium. In a rematch of last year’s UFL Championship Game, the Tuskers (1-0) fell behind by 10 points in the first quarter before storming back to take the halftime lead and playing a solid second half on defense. Florida forced four turnovers by defending champion Las Vegas (0-1) and stopped the Locos on downs at their own 39-yard line with 18 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Las Vegas also held the ball down seven points with two minutes left, but Odell Thurman picked off Tim Rattay at the Locos’ 32-yard line on the first play after the warning. Rattay completed 22-of-38 passes for 173 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Florida extended its edge to 10 points late in the third quarter on its longest play of the game. Bollinger found Calvin Russell streaking down the right sideline and hit him in stride for a 68-yard touchdown pass that gave the Tuskers a 27-17 lead with 10 seconds left in the period.
The Locos appeared poised to tighten the game on the ensuing drive, pushing deep into Florida territory before Simeon Castille leaped high while falling backward to intercept Rattay in the end zone with 12:20 left to play.
Running back Dominic Rhodes scored both of Florida’s first-half touchdowns, spurring the Tuskers to a 17-10 halftime advantage.
The second of Rhodes’ scores came under controversial circumstances. On the play before the touchdown, Rhodes rushed from the Las Vegas 2-yard line and appeared to fumble on a hit by Locos linebacker Brandon Moore as he dove over the line. C.J. Wallace recovered for Las Vegas, but officials put the play under video review and the Locos were penalized for illegal defense. Rhodes pushed up the middle for a 1-yard scoring run on the next play to give the Tuskers their first lead of the game at 14-10.
Florida kicker Nick Novak set a league record with a 54-yard field goal with 52 seconds left in the second quarter, closing out first-half scoring.
Las Vegas jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead, as Locos linebacker Teddy Lehman scored the first points of Las Vegas’ season. On the opening play of Florida’s second drive, Lehman cut in front of a Tuskers receiver at the Tuskers’ 26 to intercept a short pass by Bollinger, then fought back through the middle of the line to take the ball to the end zone at the 9:00 mark of the opening quarter.
The Locos extended the lead to 10 points on a 32-yard field goal by Parker Douglass, settling for the kick after receiver Tab Perry dropped a potential touchdown pass on the previous play.
Bollinger used his legs to create Florida’s first touchdown early in the second quarter. Deep in Las Vegas territory, Bollinger scrambled to his right to buy time before lobbing a 6-yard scoring pass to Rhodes in the right front quarter of the end zone at the 12:36 mark.
Bollinger went 22-of-37 overall and threw one interception.