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Knight Hawks win again despite second quarter quarterback switch

The Vegas Knight Hawks are still one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the Indoor Football League as the team continued their longest win streak in franchise history.

Vegas dumped Duke City, 42-27, Saturday, April 27 from the Lee’s Family Forum in Henderson. Ahead of the contest, kickoff time for owner Bill Foley’s IFL team was shifted from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m. in order to create buffer time in between this game and the playoff game for his Vegas Golden Knights.

“We’re winning right now,” head coach Mike Davis said. “We’ve got a long way to go, we’re only a third of the way through the season. Fortunately enough we’re 5-0, we’ve gotten off to a hot start, we just have to keep it going.”

The latest win for the Knight Hawks pushed the team to 5-0, becoming the first team in the league to reach the plateau. Last year’s team won five games all of last season.

The other undefeated team, Bay Area (4-0), is scheduled to play San Diego tomorrow night. Regardless of the outcome of that game, Vegas will travel to northern California for a matchup against Bay Area Saturday, May 4.

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.

“We’ve got to keep it going,” Davis said. “We’ve got a big one coming up, we’ll enjoy this one tonight, watch the Bay Area - San Diego game tomorrow and get ready for a tough Bay Area game next week.

On the way to the victory, Davis and company had to endure a quarterback change that saw the team turn away from starting quarterback Ja’Rome Johnson.

“Just listening to the headset it was, ‘Listen, he’s not seeing it, let’s get [backup quarterback Jorge] Reyna a chance,’” Davis said. “And Reyna saw it. It doesn’t mean anything, right? We needed to do what we needed to do tonight to get a win.”

It was smooth sailing in the early going for Johnson as he capped the game’s first drive with a touchdown run. That was the 19th straight drive that ended in points for the Knight Hawks. Moments later the 7-0 lead would be turned into an 8-0 advantage due to a rogue on the ensuing kickoff.

Back-to-back false starts on the Gladiators’ offense followed by a sack put the visitors in a fourth and long spot. On a 63-yard missed field goal, defensive back Jericho Flowers fielded the miss and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown.

With a missed extra point, Vegas went up by 14 early in the contest.

“We started fast,” Davis said. “We made some bonehead mistakes and gave them a little momentum.”

Things really began to turn in the favor of the home team after defensive back James Ceasar secured an interception in the end zone of the next Duke City drive. That momentum would be killed shortly after when Johnson was intercepted on the first play of the drive in addition to being returned for a touchdown.

That was the first interception of the year for Johnson on his 44th pass attempt of the season, the most attempts of anyone in the league without an interception. He went nearly a year without a pick while playing in eight games. Entering the game, he had 14 touchdowns to just 18 incompletions.

Vegas’ defense would give the offense another life after defensive back Jonathan Johnson came up with the third interception of the game in the first 12:03 of the first quarter.

“I feel like we had to continue to play our game,” Flowers said. “We allowed them to come back into the game and then we stopped playing our game. Once we got settled and started playing Knight Hawk football, we went out there and put good football on display.”

Late in the second quarter, Johnson would throw his second interception before leaving the field with just three completions on nine attempts for 30 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. It’s the first game where he’s had two interceptions since April 21 of last year.

Reyna took over on the team’s next possession and would later throw his first touchdown of the season to break a 21-21 tie to cap it. That score was hauled in by receiver Caleb Holley, who now has a touchdown in every game this season.

In the fourth quarter, the pair would connect again in the end zone as Holley racked up a team-high 51 yards on five catches and two scores. Fellow receiver Quentin Randolph also added two touchdowns on three catches and 21 yards.

Off the bench, Reyna entered the game and proceeded to go 7-for-9 for 62 yards and three touchdowns.

“He’s a pro,” Davis said. “He preps well, him and Ja’Rome our great in the quarterback room together, they play off one another. Nobody likes getting pulled – I understand that – I’m pretty sure Ja’Rome’s confidence is a little crushed right now but he’ll be fine.”

The Knight Hawks’ defense put together back-to-back stops early in the third quarter and again early in the fourth quarter that allowed the team to stretch its lead to double-digits. Coming out of halftime, the Gladiators missed a field goal on the first drive of the second half. Prior to, the team had scored on three of its last four drives.

An offensive penalty wiped away a touchdown pass for Duke City early in the fourth quarter on a third and seven. Later on that drive, it would end at the goal line after defensive back Bryce Hampton recovered a fumble, ending any chance of a go-ahead score for the visitors.

“I feel like defense always wins championships,” Flowers said. “Offense can stay and be consistent to a point but if you have a consistent defense that’ll get you stops – especially in the indoor game – a lot can happen.”


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