Knight Hawks scrape out must-win victory in home season finale
Needing a win to stay alive in the postseason chase with one week remaining in the Indoor Football League, the Vegas Knight Hawks were able to take care of business in their regular season home finale.
Vegas stomped the Bay Area Panthers, 65-33, Saturday, July 2 from The Dollar Loan Center.
This season, the Knight Hawks took both meetings against the Panthers this season by a combined 58 points.
Coming into this one, Vegas had lost their two most recent contests, highlighted by a one-point home loss to the Quad City Steamwheelers last week.
The win sends Bay Area to a 13th straight loss this season, confirming an 0-8 finish on the road this year.
Vegas ends its inaugural season 3-5 from The Dollar Loan Center.
Both the Knight Hawks and Panthers are both in their first season in the IFL.
The team’s regular season finale will take place next week when the Knight Hawks prepare to take on the Arizona Rattlers.
Earlier this season, Arizona beat Vegas by 47 points in Vegas.
Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. Sunday, July 10.
Quarterback Cameron Dukes came up big time and time again for the Knight Hawks on the way to a 25-for-39 night, passing for 315 yards and six touchdowns versus zero interceptions.
His six touchdowns were spread out to four different players, with two coming away with a pair of scores.
Wide receiver KD Cannon was one with two touchdowns on the day with his first coming from 20 yards out late in the third quarter to put Vegas up 17 points.
He had the knack for making the big play on the day coming up with catches of 14 yards of more on four of his six catches on the night. His longest catch on the day was 23 yards.
Cannon finished with 105 yards on six catches and two touchdowns. His final score came as time expired in the fourth quarter.
Fellow wide receiver and Las Vegas native Kasey Allison also had a pair of touchdowns on the day, tallying a team-high nine receptions and 115 yards.
Allison even made a highlight reel catch for the ages when he leaped up in the end zone making the catch for the score behind the defenders back.
Wide receiver Jordan McCray had to wait before he found his way to the end zone, missing several opportunities in the early going of the game. He also avoided possible disaster.
While throwing on the run, Dukes found McCray across the middle for 28 yards. After being tackled, he would leave the game favoring his left knee before returning later in the drive.
In the second quarter, McCray found himself wide open down the middle of the field and dropped a would-be touchdown right at the goal line.
It appeared he finally secured a touchdown late in the first half but an offensive holding penalty would wipe it off the board.
Finally, McCray snagged his score on the team’s first drive of the second half to go up 31-13. He has now scored in five straight games.
Newly-acquired running back Davonte Sapp-Lynch scored his first touchdowns with the Knight Hawks, both of which came on the ground.
The first was a final score of the first quarter from two yards out that gave Vegas a 14-0 edge heading into the second quarter.
Sapp-Lynch nearly returned a kick for a touchdown but was ruled out of bounds at the one-yard line. A play later he would rush into the end zone for his second score of the game.
Fellow running back Jordan Cronkrite also put up two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air. In fact, Cronkrite caught Dukes’ first td pass of the night while both of his scores came in the first half.
Vegas kicker Nolan Kohorst had a perfect day going 8-for-8 on point-after attempts and knocking home his lone field goal attempt from 25 yards out.
The defense used two second half turnovers to turn the tide for good against Bay Area despite opening the game with a sack on its very first play from scrimmage.
Bay Area did have an extra point blocked in the first half by the Vegas defense.
However in the second half, defensive lineman Kai Higgins came up with a fumble recovery in an 11-point game on the first Panther drive of the half.
Defensive back Devin Washington came away with the team’s second forced turnover of the quarter when he snatched the team’s first interception of the night.
The only real thorn in the side of the Vegas defense was Bay Area running back Duane Gary who scored two touchdowns on the ground and another on a kick return.
In fact, he would’ve had a second kick return touchdown had it not been for a blindside block that called the play back.