Heroes drown RiverRats
Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 12, 2008
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Last week’s loss to Reading was something to forget for the Huntington Heroes.
All it took was a Day to forget that.
Wide receiver Octavius Day, who played for Heroes head coach Teddy Keaton last season with the Lakeland Thunderbolts and was the MVP of the AIFA championship game, made the most of his first start as he helped the Heroes roll past the Erie RiverRats 54-24 in front of an estimated crowd of 1,150 in an American Indoor Football Association game.
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“He adds so much. He’s got speed. They tried to not let us get deep and we were able to go underneath,” said Keaton.
Erie (3-2) jumped out to an early lead as kicker J.R. Cipra made the uno on the opening kickoff and the Erie defense forced a safety to grab an early 3-0 lead.
After a defensive stop, Huntington took the lead on a 23-yard pass from Darnell Kennedy to Day for a 6-3 lead with 1:10 left in the opening quarter.
“I’m happy to be playing,” said Day. “I believe we have the best receivers in the AIFA. We just have to keep jelling.”
Day finished the night with six receptions for 97 yards and three touchdowns.
Late in the second quarter, the Heroes regained the lead on a 1-yard run by Kennedy to take a 17-13 lead with 0:27 left in the half.
The drive was set up by Larry Thompson who intercepted a Jerrod Highberger pass at midfield and returned it into RiverRats territory.
On Erie’s ensuing possession, Thompson intercepted Highberger again for the second time.
On the next play, Kennedy found Marcus Bryant wide open on a 14-yard strike to end the half as the Heroes led 27-17 at the half.
“We wanted to get a stop and get a score,” Keaton said. “That would take them out of their dink and dunk scheme.”
In the third period, Erie cut into the Heroes lead as Highberger found Javon Johnson open for a 24-yard touchdown toss to cut the Heroes lead to 27-24 with 13:33 in the quarter.
That would be the last time Erie would score in the game as Huntington rolled off 27 straight points.
Jason Cherry made two field goals from 36 and 37-yards and Kennedy threw one touchdown and ran for 2 more during the scoring run.
The highlight of that scoring run was an electrifying 40-yard touchdown scramble by Kennedy to put the final nail in the coffin with 7:34 left in the game.
“That adds a duel threat when you have a mobile quarterback,” said Keaton. “We told him all week if he got into trouble, just throw the ball away or use his feet to make a play.”
The big performance by Kennedy was a sigh of relief after last week’s loss.
“To play the way I did last week was unexcusable,” said Kennedy. “It felt great to come out here and win like this.”
The Heroes are back at home to face the Canton Legends next Saturday night.
Er - J.R. Cipra uno kick 15:00
Er - Safety (Darnell Kennedy intentional grounding in end zone) 13:36
Hu - Octavius Day 23 pass from Kennedy (kick failed) 1:10
Er - Robert Hammer 1 run (Cipra kick) 12:25
Hu - Day 12 pass from Kennedy (Jason Cherry kick) 9:55
Er - Darmel Whitfield 17 pass from Jarrod Highberger (Cipra kick) 6:25
Hu - Kennedy 1 run (Cherry kick) :27
Hu - Marcus Bryant 14 pass from Kennedy (Cherry kick) :00
Er - Javon Johnson 24 pass from Highberger (Cipra kick) 13:33
Hu - Cherry 37 field goal 10:07
Hu - Day 27 pass from Kennedy (Cherry kick) 7:14
Hu - Cherry 37 field goal 14:05
Hu - Kennedy 40 run (Cherry kick) 7:34
Hu - Kennedy 2 run (Cherry kick) :12
RUSHING-Erie: Robert Hammer 3-6, Jerrod Highberger 1-8, David Dinkins 1-0. Huntington: Wilmont Perry 4-11, Byron Cobb 4-6, Darnell Kennedy 5-48, Jermaine Blakely 1-4.
PASSING-Erie: Jarrod Highberger 19-34-179. Huntington: Darnell Kennedy 13-22-189.
RECEIVING-Erie: Darmel Whitfield 8-88, Dinkins 5-30, Brandon Jackson 3-31, Javon Jackson 2-30. Huntington: Octavius Day 6-97, Marcus Bryant 4-61, Jay Jackson 3-31.