One of the unwritten rules of sports says you can’t lose your starting job to injury. But sometimes, maybe you should. JJ Ratterink made his second comeback of the season Saturday night, and the results were anything but good. His 1st half performance was uneven at best, and ended as he took an extremely ill advised sack in the endzone for the KISS safety with only 5 seconds left to play. The sack would be the final play of the game for Ratterink as the KISS used the last 30 seconds of the half to build a lead they would never give up.
The Outlaws offense struggled right from the start going without a 1st down on their opening possession. LA’s only 1st quarter possession resulted in a 3 yard TD run from Myles Mason. Mason was hit at the 4, but dragged would be Vegas tacklers with him across the goal line.
The Outlaws would get on the board early in the 2nd when JJ Ratterink Hit WR Jason Willis for the 4 yard score. Ratterink’s second TD would come on the ground and would tie the game with only 44 seconds remaining in the half. The Outlaws defense had a big let down following the score as LA took back the lead in only 3 plays. Vegas had 12 seconds to work with, but was pinned back o their own 5 after the touchback. Instead of a quick pass to give them some extra room, Ratterink dropped back into the endzone and quickly found himself with nowhere to go. Instead of throwing it away, He took a horrible sack to give LA a 23-14 lead at the half only 44 seconds after the game was tied at 14.
Dennis Havrilla would come out to start the 3rd quarter at QB. Havrilla has had some success as the Outlaws QB over the last few weeks including an impressive 4th quarter comeback win vs Portland. After a shaky start, Havrilla settled in and got Vegas on the board with a 7 yard TD run to close the gap to 2. The KISS would answer right back with a DeMarco Sampson 50 yard kick return TD.
The Outlaws offense made its last bit of noise just 7 seconds into the 4th when Tysson Poots made a juggling catch with his back against the endzone wall. Ernesto Lacayo would miss the PAT, but the Outlaws were back in it down 30-27. The defense held on LA’s next possession stopping them at the 3 yard line. But the offense continued to struggle and turned the ball over back to LA on downs. LA put the game away with under 7 minutes to play when WR Donovan Morgan got his first TD of the game. Morgan made the catch on the sideline boards, then turned up field and out ran everyone as he danced into the endzone. The Vegas offense was unable to get anything else going, and the KISS secured their 4th win of the season.
The Playoff race became a huge logjam after the Outlaws loss to LA. The loss puts LA at 4-11. Vegas falls to 5-10, and because of their game next week with the New Orleans Voodoo being cancelled by the AFL, they now have a draw on that record at 5-10-1. As I write this, the Portland Thunder drop a heartbreaker to the Sabercats in OT. The loss drops Portland to a tie with LA at 4-11. The Spokane Shock had the surprise win of the week when they upset the defending champion Rattlers. The win puts them at 5-10.
With only 3 weeks to play, one game separates four teams who are fighting for two playoff spots. The Outlaws will play the Thunder and the Shock in the final 2 weeks of the season, so they still have the inside track to the playoffs. Those same two teams will meet next week in Spokane while LA goes to Arizona. It’s down to the wire in the AFL National Conference.