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Vegas wins clash of unbeatens, surpass win total from last year

It only took the Vegas Knight Hawks six games to surpass their win total from last year and they beat a fellow unbeaten team in order to secure it.


Vegas got the better of last year’s IFL champs Bay Area, 62-43, Saturday, May 4 from San Jose, California. Both teams entered play as the last undefeated teams in the league this season.


“[We] just showed up,” head coach Mike Davis said. “We’ve been preaching all week that this is the best team in the league, defending champs and we haven’t played anybody – let’s see how good we are.”


The Knight Hawks continue to stretch the franchise’s longest win streak in history which now stands at six games. Sitting at 6-0, the third-year team sits atop of the Western Conference standings.


Davis’ defense and special teams group made big plays at timely moments in order to guarantee the win. The defense’s presence was felt right away after linebacker Gabe McCoy picked up a sack on the team’s first defensive snap. That drive would end in a turnover on downs.


The early stop would help Vegas jump out to a 13-point lead to start the game on the way to leading by as many as 35 points.


After a late first half score from the Panthers, defensive back Jericho Flowers returned a kick for a touchdown for the second straight week to push the lead back to double-digits.


“He’s a guy that’s been around and had to make some team decisions and he’s come in and bought into what we’re trying to do as a team and in all three phases,” Davis said. “He’s been a great addition for us.”


With just nine seconds left in the second quarter, Bay Area had any offensive gameplan thwarted when defensive back James Ceasar hauled in his second interception in as many weeks to send the game into halftime.


That was one of three interceptions on the night for the Knight Hawks’ defense including ones from fellow defensive back Bryce Hampton and the aforementioned Flowers.


Coming out of halftime with the defense on the field first, Vegas forced another turnover on downs with stops on third and fourth down with just four yards to go. Both of those stops came from inside the team’s 10-yard line.


Former Knight Hawks quarterback Daquan Neal entered the game in the fourth quarter and would help produce two late scoring drives on the three possessions he’d lead.


“Daquan is a good quarterback,” Davis said. “He needed a change and we were happy with the guys that we had coming in so there was no need to keep a veteran around.”


A week after being benched for backup quarterback Jorge Reyna, Ja’Rome Johnson returned to the starting lineup and would turn in a career day. The first drive of the game was capped off by a touchdown run by Johnson from five yards out and would serve as a precursor of things to come in this one.


“He’s a competitor,” Davis said. “It’s about personal growth and him being a better football player and he responded well.”


By the end of the first half, Johnson would have racked up three rushing touchdowns which tied a season-high as well as a career-high. Vegas would put up 41 points in the first half which was nine away from tying the most given up by Bay Area all season long.


On average, the Panthers allowed 41.5 points per game entering the contest.


“It’s crazy to tell you this but we actually made about three mistakes,” Davis said. “It could’ve been more, couple of missed opportunities. We played a complete first half offensively.”


With two rushing touchdowns in the second half, he set a new career-high with five rushing scores to go along with 136 passing yards on 8-of-12 through the air with three more touchdowns.


Receivers CJ Windham, Caleb Holley and Quentin Randolph all accounted for touchdowns through the air.

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