Week three starts out with a wild showdown in Las Vegas, between two win-less opponents who both came out, to ball out! A far cry from flawless, there was a bounty of mistakes that began with the opening play of the game. Seattle’s Kelvin McKnight bobbled the kickoff return, luckily sending the ball out of bounds.
In a post-game interview Seattle head coach Jim Haslett put the team on notice, saying “Lot of things we gotta clean up, way too many mistakes, we do dumb things. We’ll fix those. And if not, we’ll just get somebody that wants to do it.” With more pros than cons being executed by both teams, what was to ensue made for a very exhilarating contest.
The opening drive by the Sea Dragons started strong but ended abruptly. What appeared to be a tipped pass from DiNucci, was ruled a fumble, recovered by the Vipers’ C.J. Avery. This positioned the Vipers just outside the red zone. A few well-executed plays later the Vipers took the ball to the house on a 12-yard strike from Brett Hundley to Jeff Badet. The Vipers were first on the board with 6 and remained there after the failed 2-point conversion.
A possession each resulted in forced punts. The next offensive drive by Seattle told a different tale. With a variety of receivers making precision receptions and solid footwork, the Sea Dragons seamlessly drove down the field. DiNucci connected with Josh Gordon, Blake Jackson, then Jahcour Pearson. The drive finished with a 25-yard pass to Blake Jackson for the touchdown. A missed 3-point conversion keeps the score tied at 6.
Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Vegas Vipers went from their own 26-yard line to the Seattle 21. They get 3 points on a Bailey Giffen field goal, giving the Vipers a three-point lead at 9-6. As the battle continues, the Sea Dragons split the goalposts to tie it up at 9-9. Following that, two good defensive stances send the teams to the locker room to prepare for the final two-quarters of the game.
“Lot of things we gotta clean up, way too many mistakes, we do dumb things. We’ll fix those. And if not, we’ll just get somebody that wants to do it.”– Jim Haslett, Seattle Head Coach
Las Vegas beginning on offense, make short work of getting to the endzone on this particular drive. The drive was highlighted by a pass from Hundley to a diving catch to Badet at the Vipers’ 49-yard line. As Badet falls to the ground, Seattle’s cornerback Antoine Brooks jumps over the receiver, thinking he got a down by contact on Badet, but instead missed, resulting in an additional 35 yards, grossing the 56-yard completion to the Seattle 16. Three plays later Hundley rushes in for the touchdown followed by a 2-point conversion pass to Bryant. Putting the Vipers up 17-9.
Seattle now on offense drove the field until DiNucci’s pass to Damion Willis was intercepted by the Vipers’ Adam Sparks. Shortly thereafter Vegas added 3 more points, which widened the score gap to 20-9. With the Sea Dragons on their heels, they showed no signs giving up. Quite the contrary, Seattle drove the field to capitalize on a perfectly placed, toe tapping catch from DiNucci to Gordon to put 6 more on the board.
Into the 4th quarter, the Sea Dragons come with the grit it takes to forge a comeback. They stopped the Vipers with a three and out. Ten plays later and with a key 15-yard rush by running back Morgan Ellison, the Sea Dragons move into position and add 3 more points. The Dominik Eberle 32-yard field goal narrowed the lead to 20-18. The Vipers, not about to play it safe, launch a frenzied attack on offense, capped the drive with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Lovett which extended their lead to 26-18.
With just over six minutes left in regulation, the deficit the Sea Dragons have to climb is daunting. However, with DiNucci and Pearson continuing ‘lights out’ playmaking, Seattle burns three precious minutes off the clock and garners 6 more points from a Juwan Green 22-yard touchdown pass. Another missed 3-point conversion tallies the score at 26-24 Vegas.
The Vipers got the ball back with three and a half minutes on the clock to push for a first down. They relent on a 4th and 5 to punt, giving Seattle one more opportunity with 1:37 to go. Seattle only needed about 40 seconds to get the final score of the game. The 4th down bomb was caught by Josh Gordon who backpedaled, before turning and beating the defender to the endzone.
One last try for the Las Vegas Vipers to put points on the board in less than a minute. They had to drive 70 yards to the endzone, for a must-have touchdown to recapture the lead. The game ends with a Vipers’ Mathew Sexton dropped pass from Brett Hundley.
Seattle Sea Dragons hold fast on defense to keep the lead secure for their first win of the season over the Las Vegas Vipers 30-26.