Columbus Destroyers Destroyers go “all-in” to earn 54-50 win over Blackjacks
With under a minute remaining in the game and the crowd in full voice at Nationwide Arena quarterback Grant Russell completed what he thought was the game-winning touchdown to wide receiver Fabian Guerra. As the 6,000-plus fans in attendance celebrated Atlantic City head coach Ron James threw his red challenge flag onto the field.
The Blackjacks believed that Guerra did not have full control of the ball as made the potential game-winning catch in the endzone. Following a lengthy review, the officials determined the Destroyers receiver used the turf to his advantage and didn’t control the football as he hit the ground.
Russell and his teammates took the long march back to the original line of scrimmage to try again. With 12 seconds remaining in the game, Russell found receiver Kenny Cook in the corner of the end zone to seal the 50-47 victory as the Destroyers claim their first victory since returning to Arena Football.
It was an electric start for Columbus as Fabian Guerra returned the opening kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown giving the Destroyers an early 7-0 advantage. Hard-nosed defense allowed the hosts to earn a key stop against the Blackjacks, setting up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Grant Russell to Paul Browning to give Columbus a 14-0 advantage after the first quarter.
Atlantic City rallied in the second quarter to close the gap to 27-21 at halftime. The Blackjacks found the scoresheet again after the break in route to claiming a slim 28-27 advantage. The visitors maintained the one point advantage heading into the final quarter.
With everything to play for in the final period, Grant Russell caught fire, connecting with three different receivers on key plays throughout the quarter. Jenson Stoshak, Paul Browning, and Kenny Cook all caught passes from the Destroyers signal caller.
Browning’s touchdown late in the fourth quarter looked to be the winner until Atlantic City quarterback Randy Hippeard called his own number, carrying the ball three yards and giving the Blackjacks a slim 50-47 advantage with under two minutes remaining. Following a modest kickoff return from Fabian Guerra, the Destroyers began with decent field position as Russell led his men up the field before connecting with Cook at the back of the endzone for the game-winning touchdown.
The win marks the Destroyers first win at home since May 24, 2008 against the New York Dragons.