Express pulls away from Heroes, 57-23

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 17, 2006

READING, Pa. — The Huntington Heroes tried to go small, but the score just kept growing.

After staying close most of the game, the Heroes lost their American Indoor Football League playoff opener Thursday as the Reading Express pulled away to a 57-23 win.

“We tried to play small ball and try to slow the game down,” Heroes head coach Garry McPeak said. “They outplayed us. They made plays when they needed it and we didn’t make enough plays.

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“We felt like we had a chance, especially with our game plan. We wanted to hang in there and be in the game in the fourth quarter. We hung in there for two and a half quarters.”

Express quarterback Tom Stetzer started the game just 1 of 8, then finished 12 of 15 the rest of the half as Reading went up 26-14 at the half.

Wide receiver Carmelo Ocasio, who shredded the Heroes defense in the first meeting, had six catches for 56 yards.

However, Shawn Foxworth had 11 receptions for 100 yards to lead the Express who boast the league’s best record at 13-2.

Huntington quarterback Freddie Ray was 15 of 30 for 185 yards. Shane Holsinger caught six passes for 72 yards and James Hawkins had six grabs for 87 yards.

The Heroes took a 7-1 lead on a 40-yard pass from Ray to Marcus Hairston before an 18-yard Stetzer to Foxworth pass gave Reading an 8-7 lead.

Ian Cooper caught a 30-yard touchdown strike from Stetzer to start the second quarter as the Express took the lead for good.

Reading was up 37-23 late in the fourth quarter when questionable call on third-and-goal gave Express fullback Wayne Davis a touchdown when he appeared to have been stuffed short of the goal line.

Davis was awarded the touchdown and it was 43-23.

The Express put two more scores on the board in the final 3 minutes of the game to win going away.

“Their coach told us he was going to run it up. If that is how he believes you should win championships, then that’s fine,” McPeak said.

Huntington finished its first-ever AIFL season at 9-6.