Vigilantes go for second straight win
PLANO, Texas -- With the Dallas Vigilantes down three points, inside the 5-yard line with time for a single play, James Fuller faced a tough decision last week in Chicago.
He said the decision on whether to go for the tie or win against the Rush was the hardest one he's made in eight games as the Vigilantes' interim coach. Fuller sent out kicker Mark Lewis, who delivered to keep the teams playing.
It turned out to be the right decision, as Dallas scored a touchdown in overtime and then returned an interception for another score to clinch the 65-52 victory.
Not only did the Vigilantes finally snap their 10-game losing streak, but they have a chance to run the table with winnable games against Utah (1-13) on Saturday and Bossier-Shreveport (3-11) remaining on the schedule.
Utah Blaze at Dallas Vigilantes
- When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: American Airlines Center
- TV: Time Warner Texas Channel
"I think the players feel really good after the win, so I think that'll give us some energy heading into this game," Fuller said. "Utah is snake bitten -- very similar to us. They have quarterback issues, personnel issues, so I think we're getting them at the right time."
Dallas (2-12) is playing for nothing but pride at this point, but that was the case in the upset in Chicago, as well.
Vigilantes quarterback Collin Drafts had his best game of the year in the win, piling up 302 yards on 30-of-45 passing with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He said at practice Wednesday that he thought it was a breakthrough game for his development as an AFL quarterback.
"We played well against Chicago the first time [a 63-56 loss]. I think we scored on every possession but one," Drafts said. "So I knew coming in we could hang with them even though they were a top-ranked team and nobody was giving us a chance."
The other hero of the win was defensive back Delenell Reid, who joined the team four games ago. Reid spent the first eight games of the year out with an injury while with the Tulsa Talons. The Vigilantes snatched up Reid when Tulsa put him on reassignment, and it has paid off huge.
With Chicago going for the tying touchdown on fourth-and-goal, Reid jumped the J.J. Raterink pass and took his second interception of the game all 50 yards for a touchdown.
Reid, who was named the AFL defensive player of the week, read the play perfectly, as he had seen it before. The Rush had scored in the second quarter on the exact same play.
"In arena football, you've got to run the same at least once or twice a game ... I've played in this league before -- I had to go for it," Reid said.
The pick was Reid's fourth in as many games with the club. He'll have a great chance at a fifth Saturday, as Utah has the worst turnover margin (minus-22) in the league to match its league-worst record. Dallas is second worst in both of those categories.
Reid said the Blaze depend on a lot of trickery to compensate for a lack of athleticism, but he and the team are confident after finally getting the elusive second win.
"Knocking a team like Chicago down was a good thing for us," Reid said. "It won't change the outcome of our season, but it will change the way teams view us from here."
Josh Davis is an ESPNDallas.com intern and a writer for TCU's student newspaper, the Daily Skiff.