June 25, 2024

Arena Insider

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Wolfpack loses heartbreaker to Blackbears amid league turmoil

3 min read

EVERETT, Wash — The Washington Wolfpack lost a heartbreaker to the Oregon Blackbears to drop to 0-4 on the season.  

The Wolfpack looked to pull out their first victory of the season after quarterback Jacob Ta’Ase connected with wide receiver Deshon Williams for a thirteen-yard touchdown. Kicker Melissa Strother, who struggled throughout the night going 1-3 on extra points, missed the PAT and the team had a 25-21 lead with 1:24 remaining.

Blackbears quarterback Adam Kruse later threw a twenty-yard touchdown pass with 40 seconds left on the clock—ultimately securing the victory. 

The Wolfpack started quarterback Rodney Rainesfor the first time this season. Raines went 3 for 4 for 18 yards and efficiently led the Wolfpack down the field on their opening drive. Ta’Ase, who started the previous three games, subbed in for Raines on the next drive. 

“We just wanted to change things up a little bit and it seemed to be working,” Ta’Ase said on the change at QB. “Once I came in, I knew it was my time, and I just used what I got.” 

Ta’Ase finished 11 for 17 for 151 yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. 

Wolfpack defensive coordinator, Cole Stephens, said the defense had spent the week preparing to force Kruse out of the pocket. Kruse threw two interceptions but he finished the game by completing 11 for 21 passes, threw 170 yards and three touchdowns. 

Williams caught six passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Jr Nelson caught five passes for 48 yards, had four solo tackles, one interception, and one pass defended. Michiah Lee averaged 20.5 yards per kick return, had three solo tackles, one assisted tackle, and four passes defended. 

Before the game Wolfpack linebackers coach Brian Burck pointed out Brandon Wellington as a player to watch. His prediction came true after Wellington filled up the stat sheet with two solo tackles, two assisted tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, one interception, and one pass defended. 

The Arena Football League has experienced significant turmoil leading up to this past week when former commissioner Lee Hutton III was ousted and owners unanimously appointed interim commissioner Jeff Fisher. The league announced its moving forward with 11 teams but questions about the apparent lack of player and coaches pay still linger.

Wolfpack owners released a statement to fans, stating they have paid their players in good faith so far this season but pressured the league to honor its obligations. The owners also offered players a reduced salary they feel is competitive with indoor football.

“Teams including ours were promised player salaries and team travel to away games- paid by the league. Under commissioner Lee Hutton III, the AFL failed to provide a single dollar towards these expenses for the Washington Wolfpack.” The owners stated.

Despite the wild and heightened emotion of the final two minutes in the game, both teams formed a prayer circle at the middle of the field.

“This is bigger than football. We support each other.” Wolfpack Head Coach J.R. Wells said.

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[…] week, the Wolfpack suffered a back-breaking loss to the Oregon Blackbears, after the Blackbears threw a last-minute touchdown to steal the victory. Heading into Thursday […]

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