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VooDoo Fall In Thriller At Utah On Saturday

By: Brandon Rizzuto
P.J. Berry needs 254 all-purpose yards in the team's final game to set a new AFL record.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (July 16, 2011) – The New Orleans VooDoo (3-14) could not hold its 18-point, 45-27, lead in the 3rd quarter, falling to the Utah Blaze (8-9) in the closing seconds, 62-58, at the Energy Solutions Arena on Saturday night.

The Blaze tied the game at 55 with 3:45 in the 4th quarter with a 2-yard Chris Bocage run, and the game laid scoreless until VooDoo kicker Jonathan Ruffin split the uprights with a 34-yard field goal to give New Orleans the 58-55 advantage with 35 seconds left in the game.  Ruffin was 3-for-4 on field goals and a perfect 7-for-7 on extra point attempts.

However, the 3-point lead would not hold.  The Blaze took over on offense after the kickoff, and marched down the field amidst two VooDoo penalties to put the final points on the scoreboard with a Todd Hammel-to-Bocage touchdown pass.  Bocage finished with 224 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns: one receiving, one rushing and one kickoff return.

“It is a shame that it will go in the books the way it did because our defense played their butts off the entire game,” said interim head football coach Jon Norris.  “We seemed to fall out of our offensive rhythm in the second half, and we never clicked in the 4th quarter.  [Utah] is a playoff caliber team, fighting for a post-season spot and our guys played hard.  Our effort was there.”

New Orleans was givien one last shot at the end zone, but quarterback Danny Wimprine’s pass was intercepted on the heave, ending the game.  The interception would not overshadow Wimprine’s night with a season’s best 265 yards passing and seven touchdowns.  He was 19-of-34 with the lone interception.

The VooDoo defense forced two turnovers and two turnover-on-downs, resulting in 10 points for New Orleans.  Leading the defense were Roland Cola and Damon Mason, each with 7.0 total tackles.  Linebacker James Harris turned in a season’s best effort with two sacks, while Alvin Ray Jackson finished with 3.0 tackles, one forced fumble and an interception. 

P.J. Berry continued his march on the AFL record books, finishing with 249 all-purpose yards to give him 3,416 on the season.  A night good enough to pass up Timon Marshall for third on the single-season all-purpose yards list, and leaving him 254 yards shy of setting a new AFL benchmark for most all-purpose yards in a single season with one game left.

Berry needs just 44 yards to pass up Lamont Cooper for second-best all-time.

“P.J. is a great player.  I’m sure the records are important to him, but I know the type of teammate he is and he would rather have team success than him have a record.  I’m sure the guys will rally around him against Orlando,” said Norris.

The VooDoo will close out the 2011 campaign on Saturday, July 23.  Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT.

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About the New Orleans VooDoo
The New Orleans VooDoo will play in the New Orleans Arena, an SMG managed facility directly across the street from the Louisiana Superdome.  Single game tickets for VooDoo regular season home games are on sale now by calling 504-875-3900.  For more information call (888) 277-5526 for Vice President and Director of Operations, Jason Coffel.

About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the AFL has afforded the fast-paced and exciting game of Arena Football to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country.  The NFL Network will once again broadcast an AFL National Game of the Week for the entire regular and post season on Friday nights at 8:00 pm EST, culminating with the ArenaBowl Championship Game in August.



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