Heroes rally to outscore Phantoms

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

FLORENCE, S.C. — The Huntington Heroes turned the Florence lead into a phantom itself as they made a thrilling comeback in American Indoor Football Association action Saturday night.

The Huntington Heroes rallied from behind as many as 18 points, to notch their first road win of the season as they defeated the Florence Phantoms 43-40 Saturday night.

Coach Garry McPeek again tinkered with his lineup, as he made a switch at quarterback before Saturday’s game.

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Joey Conrad made his first start for the Heroes finishing the night 11 of 39 for 172 yards and three touchdown passes. He also had two interceptions.

Huntington got off to a rough first half as Phantom quarterback Mike Rathe threw two touchdowns to Torrey Pettigrew to give Florence a 13-7 lead after one quarter of play.

The second quarter was not any better for the Heroes. Rathe had the hot hand as he connected with Rafael Cooper for a 26-yard touchdown toss to give the Phantoms the 27-15 lead late in the first half.

Huntington kept the game close as Donte Newsome scored on a 3 yard run to cut the score to 27-22.

The Phantoms closed out the first half scoring as Rathe threw his fourth touchdown of the night to Bryan Scott to go into the half leading 34-22.

After a first half that saw the Heroes defense give up 34 points, they responded with only letting the Phantom offense find the end zone one time in the second half.

Huntington trailed 40-29 going into the fourth quarter after Newsome scored his second touchdown of the night.

Early in the final period, the Heroes defense forced the Phantoms to attempt a 51-yard field goal that was short. Desmond Maul returned the missed kick back to the Phantom 3-yard line.

Two plays later, Conrad threw another TD pass to make the score 40-35 with less than eight minutes remaining.

The defense got another stop as the Phantoms again missed a 33-yard field goal.

The Heroes were unable to capitalize as Nick Kelly missed a 54-yard field goal that was returned to the Heroes 15-yard line.

The Heroes got yet another stop as the defense held the Phantoms on a fourth and goal from the 1-yard line.

On the ensuing drive, Conrad hit Thomas Riley for a 44-yard gain to the Florence five-yard line. Two plays later, Conrad found Hawkins in the end zone again. The two-point conversion gave the Heroes a 43-40 lead.

Florence mounted one last drive as they advanced the ball to the Heroes six-yard line with time for one more play. Rathe dropped back to pass only to be swallowed up by the Heroes defensive line as they sacked Rathe to seal the win.

Huntington is now 2-2, while the Phantoms dropped to 1-2 on the year.

The Heroes will travel to Concord, SC to play in an exhibition charity game against the Carolina Speed on March 17. The Heroes next official game is on March 24 as they head back home to face division rival Johnstown, Pa.