Venom Fall In Championship

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Of the five losses the Amarillo Venom had endured in its 2016 campaign, its final setback had the worst sting.

The Venom were unable to capture its third championship as the team lost to Wichita Force 48-45 in the 2016 Champions Bowl on Monday night at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.

“We gave the game away,” Venom coach Julian Reese said. “We left too many plays on the field. But I’m proud of my guys this season. We fell short, but we wouldn’t have made it here without them.”

With 1:13 remaining in the game and trailing 41-38, the Venom pinned the Force into a third and long situation by way of a sack by defensive end Desmond Raiford and an incomplete pass. Wichita quarterback David Olson fired a pass toward wide receiver Jerrel Kelley in the middle of the field, which led to defensive back Jemichael Williams contesting for the ball.

As the ball sailed over both players’ heads, a pass interference penalty was called by the officials.

Wide receiver Raymond Johnson Jr., who caught four receptions for 61 yards and witnessed the call alongside his teammates from the visiting bench, weighed in on the occurrence.

“[Williams] made a play on the football, they both met and they called pass interference,” Johnson Jr. said. “It wasn’t right.”

This prompted Reese and the Venom bench to object to the call and led to subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. From those penalties, Olson was able to follow his offensive line for a four-yard touchdown.

After Wichita had jumped out to a 20-10 halftime lead, the Venom initially clawed back to within three points with 11 minutes to go in the third quarter, but failed to draw any closer.

Amarillo kept themselves alive until 26 seconds remained in the game when an onside kick attempt by kicker Jacob Felton went out-of-bounds to give Wichita the ball on the Venom six-yard line.

Quarterback Nate Davis led the Venom on offense going 20-of-34 with 205 yards passing with four touchdowns. Davis also rushed for 45 yards and another trip to paydirt on six attempts. Wide receiver Greg Jones aided the Venom by nabbing four passes for 61 yards and two scores.

Williams, defensive back Leroy Trahan and linebacker Kendrick Causey led the defense with seven tackles each.

The Force was led by Olson, who went 9-of-18 for 89 yards and three TDs. Olson also rushed for 27 yards and two more scores on 11 carries.

“I’ll talk about my offensive line first,” Olson said, who gave credit to his teammates. “We had great blocking up front, and my guys blocked their butts off tonight. We couldn’t have done anything without them.”

Olson also noted the performances of Kelley, who spearheaded the Force’s receiver corps with four catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Julian Hayes tallied nine carries for 44 yards and a score.

Also worth noting was the number of penalties in the second edition of the Champions Bowl. As Amarillo drew flags on 21 occasions for 143 yards, Wichita saw 11 penalties for 81 yards.