Houston Gamblers get First Victory, Memphis still searching for answers
The second game Saturday featured a pair of teams that were still competing for their first win of the season. The Houston Gamblers faced off against the Memphis Showboats, winning 30-26. Kenji Bahar played a much cleaner game than his last outing, going 22 of 36 for 235, with 2 touchdowns and only one interception. Former Gator running back Mark Thompson was also huge in this game going for 81 yards and another 2 touchdowns.
The game started out slowly, with both teams taking a 0-0 tie into the second quarter. The only time either team came close was with 4 minutes left in the first when Memphis had the ball on the Houston 25. However a failed 4th and 1 run by former Baltimore Raven Alex Collins ended the threat. Houston would start the second quarter off with the ball and would draw first blood on a 37-yard field goal by Nick Vogel.
On the next possession, Memphis would start out with great field position, when Rashard Davis returned the kick to the Memphis 41. A 15-yard personal foul would give the Showboats the ball on the Houston 44. Memphis quarterback Cole Kelley would take them as far as the Houston 17, before setting for a 34-yard field goal from Brandon Wright. The ensuing possession would see our first touchdown of the game.
Starting out at their own 23, Houston goes 77 yards, highlighted by the 41-yard touchdown pass from Behar to Justin Hall (6 receptions 90 yards and 2 touchdowns). After getting the ball at midfield after Vogel kicked off out of bounds, Memphis would respond in kind. Kelley took the showboats to the endzone, capping it off when running back Alex Collins threw a 1-yard touchdown to tight end Jay Jay Wilson.
After a pair of punts, Houston would have a chance to take the lead before the half. However, Behar would be intercepted in the endzone by safety Lamont McPhatter, ending the threat. This would take the game to the half tied at 10-10.
The second half starts much like the first quarter. Houston and Memphis traded punts, then on Memphis 2nd possession disaster struck. Cole Kelley throws an interception to linebacker J.T. Tyler, returned to Memphis 26. An unsportsmanlike penalty on Alex Collins, who made the tackle, gives Houston the ball on the Memphis 13. 5 plays later Mark Thompson gets his first touchdown, from 2 yards out. A Nick Vogel extra point makes it 17-10 gamblers.
On the very next play, Houston takes advantage of another Memphis blunder. Rashard Davis fumbles the kickoff, and Houston recovers at the Memphis 38. 4 plays later, Mark Thompson gets his second rushing touchdown of the day, from 15 yards out. A missed extra point would give Houston a 23-10 lead, that they would take into the 4th quarter.
Memphis responds to this hole they now find themselves in by driving to the Houston 17. Cole Kelley would miss a 3rd down pass, and Brandon Wright would be called on to make a 35-yard field goal, making it a 10-point game. On the following kickoff, down by 10, Memphis attempts a 4th and 12 that winds up no good. Houston is unable to do anything with the field position and gives the ball back to Memphis. After 3 consecutive 3-and-out drives, Memphis gets the ball back and cuts into the lead.
Kelley takes the showboats 70 yards in 5 plays, scoring on a 30-yard touchdown to running back Kerrith Whyte. A made extra point makes this a 3-point game. After Wright puts the kickoff out of bounds, Houston has great field position, and a chance to salt this game away. Unfortunately, it would stall at the Memphis 22, forcing a missed 40-yard attempt by Nick Vogel.
2:55 left, down by 3
Memphis wastes no time responding, going 70 yards in less than a minute to take the lead. a 28-yard completion to Ryan McDaniel, and a missed Brandon Wright extra point, give Memphis a 26-23 lead with 1:54 remaining in the game. They made one mistake though, they left too much time for Behar. He leads a 66-yard drive, ending with a 3-yard touchdown to Justin Hall (his second), with 13 seconds left. Memphis would have a shot for a Hail Mary after a good kickoff. Cole Kelley’s pass fell incomplete in the endzone and time expired.
Curtis Johnson on the win
Todd Haley on the Loss
The Houston Gamblers will attempt to get back to .500 against the 1-2 Philadelphia Stars (Saturday at 1 pm Fox). The Memphis Showboats will continue to look for their first win against the 2-1 Michigan Panthers (Saturday 7:30 NBC/Peacock)