First season finale ends with second loss to Arizona
With not much to play for besides bragging rights, Vegas saw its inaugural season come to an end with the second loss of the season to Arizona.
The Knight Hawks were beaten, 49-31, from the Footprint Center Sunday, July 10.
Arizona beat Vegas by 47 points earlier in the season from The Dollar Loan Center.
The night before, the Duke City Gladiators scored a walk-off win over the San Diego Strike Force to clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Vegas will have to settle for the fifth spot in the conference with a 6-10 overall record in its first year of existence.
A 10-point swing in the second quarter shifted the momentum in the favor of the home team, stripping the Knight Hawks of any forward progress.
Former UNLV captain Gabe McCoy forced a fumble on a 3rd and 6 where Arizona had picked up the first down. Vegas went on to recover the fumble, securing the turnover and starting field position from the Rattlers 16-yard line. At that point, the Knight Hawks were down 20-14.
However the decision to throw three straight times, the last two of which were incomplete, forced Vegas into a fourth down.
Kicker Nolan Kohorst had things compound when he missed a field goal from 26 yards out.
To make matters worse, Arizona added another six points plus the extra point on the other end just before the half ended.
Kohorst nearly missed another field goal but roughing the kicker provided him another opportunity, which he drilled for a 27-17 deficit heading into halftime.
Vegas had a couple of last gasps for air in the second half but both went in the favor of the home team.
Quarterback Cameron Dukes got the team to within three points early in the third quarter after striking for six on a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Lucky Jackson.
Earlier this week, Dukes was named the IFL’s Offensive Player of the Week after tossing six touchdowns in a home win over Bay Area.
That’s the third time a quarterback has received the midseason award and for the third time, Vegas dropped the following contest.
Running back Jordan Cronkrite scored Dukes first touchdown of the day from 36 yards out to tie the game at seven apiece.
Cronkrite also scored another touchdown from three yards out on the ground. He finished with six yards on three carries to go along with 57 yards on three receptions and two scores.
This season, Cronkrite scored a total of seven touchdowns this season, four on the ground and three on pass catches.
Wide receiver KD Cannon appeared to have his first touchdown catch of the day but had it wiped off the board due to a Vegas holding penalty.
Dukes did get his third and final touchdown pass on the night in the form of a 29-yard punch to wide receiver Jeff Ejekam to make the score 42-31 in favor of Arizona.
He ended his night with 147 yards through the air on 12-of-31 passing with three touchdowns, an interception and a sack.
After the Ejekam touchdown catch, Vegas opted to go for the onside kick, which it recovered.
Facing a 3rd and 12, Dukes was sacked for the one and only time during the game.
Still with a chance to cut the deficit to a possession, Kohorst missed his second field goal of the night with more than seven minutes remaining in regulation.
This season, Vegas made 10-of-26 field goal attempts while kicking 69% (46-of-67) on point-after attempts.