PHOENIX -- Mark Grieb set a record with eight touchdown
passes, James Roe caught five to tie three more records and the San
Jose SaberCats beat the Arizona Rattlers 69-62 Sunday for their
second ArenaBowl title in three years.
After nearly an hour of unrelenting offense, the final minute of
the Arena Football League championship turned on defense.
Arizona scored with 31 seconds left to get within one at 63-62, but
coach Danny White opted for a 2-point conversion. Sherdrick Bonner
rolled left and passed low to Hunkie Cooper, but San Jose's Omarr
Smith broke up the pass.
Then San Jose guard Chuck Reed took the ensuing onside kick,
lumbering seven yards to score with 30 seconds remaining.
But Dan Frantz missed the point-after, leaving Arizona within
As time ticked off, Bonner found Orshawante Bryant for three
first downs -- the last a 15-yard catch to set up the Rattlers on
the San Jose 2 with two seconds left. Rashied Davis smothered
Hunkie Cooper on Arizona's final play, knocking down Bonner's pass
as the clock expired.
San Jose's 2002 championship win came in a 52-14 rout of
the rival Rattlers for the most lopsided win in championship-game
Sunday's victory snapped Arizona's 10-game winning streak,
which included two regular-season wins over the SaberCats last
month to steal the No. 1 playoff seed.
It also halted a three-game string of losses to Arizona, which
knocked San Jose out of last year's playoffs.
Grieb eclipsed the seven TD passes thrown by Albany's Mike
Pawlawski in 1999 and Grand Rapids' Clint Dolezel in 2001.
Aside from Roe, Grieb hit Fred Coleman for 22- and 2-yard
scores, James Hundon had a 33-yard scoring reception and Barry
Wagner ran for a TD.
Bonner set a record with 367 yards passing (Pawlawski had 327), and
tossed seven TD passes -- four to Siaha Burley and three to Bryant.
Cooper and Bo Kelly each rushed for a Rattlers TD.
Roe's scoring grabs went for 8, 11, 3, 38 and 31 yards. Terrill
Shaw of Grand Rapids set the records for scoring (30 points), TDs
(five) and TD receptions against Nashville in 2001.
Roe had four in the first half, and the threat he posed opened
up Hundon and Coleman for go-ahead scores in the fourth quarter,
breaking 49-49 and 56-56 ties, respectively.
After Coleman's 2-yard catch made it 63-56 with 3:44 left,
Burley returned the kickoff 21 yards to the 17 and capped a short
drive with a 9-yard TD reception. But San Jose kept a one-point
lead by stopping the two-point try.
Roe's fourth score was a momentum-changer on a play that began
with two seconds left in the second quarter and the score tied at
Roe caught the ball at midfield and weaved through arm tackles
by Kelvin Hunter and Randy Gatewood to the end zone.
Bonner tied the ArenaBowl record by completing his first six
passes, and the Rattlers scored twice in their first three plays --
with Burley catching a 29-yard TD pass and Bryant a 33-yarder -- to
take a 14-7 lead.
But the SaberCats used a fourth-down sack by Sam Hernandez -- the
sixth in 14 playoff games for the AFL's career sack leader -- to set
up Roe's 11-yard scoring grab and get the lead for the first time
at 21-14 in the second quarter.