Venom Fall to Wichita in Thriller

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

By TYLER ANDERSON For Amarillo Globe-News

With less than a minute to play, a pair of turnovers in the game’s closing moments sunk the Amarillo Venom, as they fell to the Wichita Force 59-51 on Saturday night at the Amarillo Civic Center Complex Cal Farley Coliseum.

Trailing 52-51 with 33 seconds remaining, Venom quarterback Nate Davis threw a pass directly into the hands of Wichita linebacker Jason Catchings, who returned the interception for a Force touchdown. On the ensuing possession and down by eight points, a fumbled snap and recovery by Wichita defensive lineman James McCartney sealed the Force victory.

“We laid an egg,” said Venom coach Julian Reese following the loss. “We have to be consistent. Our offense hasn’t done anything in the last few weeks. We have to be consistent, all across the board. Consistency is the key to winning championships. We can’t spurts when we’re playing well. You can’t do that when you expect to be a championship team.”

Facing a 20 point deficit in the closing moments of the first half, Wichita scored 21 unanswered points going into and coming out of halftime to give the Force a 28-27 lead at the 10:59 mark in the third quarter.

“We didn’t change anything on offense, we just started executing,” said Force coach Paco Martinez. “It was the same thing for defense. We have a championship-caliber team. We have the heart and we believed the whole time. We told ourselves in the second half, we have to make every play that’s going to be important. In the second half, we made more than they did, and we came away with a win.”

Amarillo had built an early 27-7 lead with less than a minute to go in the first half, culminating in an interception by defensive back Jemichael Williams.

Williams picked off the pass from Wichita quarterback David Olson before taking it back for a 49-yard touchdown return.

“I knew that (Olson) wasn’t an accurate passer,” Williams said of the play. “We were playing man-to-man, and I had to option to read either the tight end or the running back. They didn’t go out, so I came down like I was coming down for a run. I saw the quarterback look over to my side. I knew that my teammate was forcing the receiver back inside, so I took a step back and he threw it straight to me.”

Amarillo was led by wide receiver Raymond Johnson Jr., who caught six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown while returning a kickoff for a touchdown late in the third quarter. The 50-yard return was Johnson’s sixth touchdown return of the season.

The loss was the Venom’s first home setback of the year, as Amarillo closed out its home stretch with a 2-1 record with one home game remaining on their regular season schedule.

The Venom fall to 6-4 so far in their 2016 campaign, while Wichita improves to 8-2. The Venom sink to third place in the CIF Southern Division, as Dodge City soundly defeated San Angelo at home by the score of 90-46.

“QUOTE,” Reese said. “QUOTE.”

The Venom will now head west, playing the final game of a three-game season series against the Duke City Gladiators in a game with heavy playoff implications at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, N.M.

Force 59, Venom 51

Wichita 0 14 28 17 — 59

Amarillo 7 20 21 3 — 51

FIRST QUARTER

AMA— Nate Davis 1 run (Jacob Felton kick)

SECOND QUARTER

AMA— Wyreaz Bradley 19 pass from Davis (Felton kick)

WIC— Dorrian Roberts 7 kickoff return (Jordan Drake kick)

AMA— Davis 1 run (conversion failed)

AMA— Jemichael Williams 49 interception return (Felton kick)

WIC— Clarence Anderson 20 pass from David Olson (Drake kick)

THIRD QUARTER

WIC— Olson 2 run (Drake kick)

WIC— Dontra Matthews 33 fumble recovery (Drake kick)

AMA— Davis 8 run (Felton kick)

WIC— Brett Soft 22 pass from Olson (Drake kick)

AMA— Raymond Johnson Jr. 22 pass from Davis (Felton kick)

WIC— Olson 4 run (Drake kick)

AMA— Johnson Jr. 50 kickoff return (Felton kick)

FOURTH QUARTER

WIC— Drake 17 field goal

AMA— Felton 24 field goal

WIC— Soft 18 pass from Olson (Drake kick)

WIC— Jason Catchings 35 interception return (Drake kick)

Wichita Amarillo

First downs 12 20

Rushes-Yards 13-54 22-77

Passing-Yards 153 131

Total Yards 40-207 53-208

Comp-Att-Int 13-27-2 14-31-2

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 10-64 11-84

Individual statistics

RUSHING—

Wichita: Clarence Anderson 4-31; David Olson 5-19. Amarillo: Wyreaz Bradley 8-31; Nate Davis 9-29.

PASSING –

Wichita: Olson 13-27-2-153. Amarillo: Davis 14-31-2-131

RECEIVING—

Wichita: Anderson 6-63; Brett Soft 4-65; Benji Love 2-11; Rashad Daniels 1-14. Amarillo: Raymond Johnson 6-74; Julian Walker 3-20; Kent McDonald 3-12; Jordan DeCorte 1-30; Bradley 1-19.