TULSA, OK– A huge second half effort by the Tulsa Talons lifted them over the 5-3 Chicago Rush 64-45 on Saturday night as the division leading Rush were limited to only 17 points in the 3rd and 4th quarter while the 3-5 Talons posted a whopping 30 points on the BOK big board.
Talons QB Matt Bassuener rushed for four touchdowns and 33 yards and threw for three more TDs in the game. One of Bassuener’s rushing touchdowns was selected as the highlight of the game as he leapt for the goal line in the 3rd quarter. Troy McBroom caught two of Bassuener’s passes and Trent Shelton had the other.
Tulsa fell behind 14-0 in the first five minutes, but then surged back with 27 unanswered points to take the lead with 6:50 left in the second quarter. In that time span, Bassuener ran for touchdowns of one and 12 yards and threw a 34 yard touchdown pass to Troy McBroom. Also in the 27 point run, Juan Bongarra hit two field goals, one from 27 yards and another from 33 yards.
From there, Chicago quarterback Russ Michna threw touchdowns on back-to-back drives, while the Rush retook the lead 28-27. This would be Chicago’s last lead of the game because Tulsa responded with an 18 yard touchdown pass to McBroom to end the half. The Talons led 34-28 after two quarters.
Arena football is all about momentum and the Talons run in the first half gave them a ton that carried over across the break. The momentum really shifted when on Chicago’s second offensive drive linebacker Nekos Brown forced an illegal grounding penalty. The defense then forced Chicago to turn the ball over at their 6-yard line.
This set up Bongarra’s first field goal. Tulsa blocked Chicago’s field goal on the next drive, which set up McBroom’s score. On the following drive, J.C. Neal forced a fumble that Jamar Ransom recovered. This helped Bongarra make his second field goal. Then the Talons recovered another Chicago fumble, which allowed Bassuener to run for his second touchdown of the game.
The Talons’ defense was the key to the victory as they pressured Chicago into six turnovers. They forced five fumbles and recovered four of them. J.C. Neal forced two of those fumbles and had a show-stopping one-handed interception in the fourth quarter to thwart a late Chicago drive. Colin Bryant, Victor DeGrate, and Nekos Brown forced the other three fumbles. DeGrate also added a sack to his stat line.
The win lifted the Talons into sole possession oif 3rd place in the AFL’s Central Division and they face a key test at New Orleans against the Voo Doo on Friday night. After that, they return home to take on the Kansas City Command on May 21st. Tickets for all Talons home games are available by calling the Talons office at 918-294-1000.
Photo by Kevin Pyle.