Bakersfield pounds Islanders
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
Expansion teams in any sport can expect to go through growing pains in their inaugural season.
The Bakersfield Blitz haven't gone through it yet. And they may not if they perform the way they did.
Chad Elliott completed 23 of 35 passes for 267 yards and five touchdowns as Bakersfield beat the Islanders, 52-32, in an arenafootball2 game at the Blaisdell Arena.
Blitz offensive specialist Steve Wofford caught 13 passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns. He caught touchdown passes of 27, 8 and 25 yards. Nathan Munson and Ryan Sloth also caught touchdown passes.
"They took us apart in the secondary," Islanders defensive coordinator Al Noga said. "We're looking for secondaries that can cover one-on-one because in the arena league you can't play too much zone.
"I'm pretty sure there's DBs in Hawai'i that can cover one-on-one. And when we find those guys we'll make our team better."
Bakersfield (2-0) put the game away by outscoring the Islanders 26-9 in the second half.
"We put a little more pressure on defense," Bakersfield coach James Fuller said. "We went into our trips (three receiver) package and took advantage of some of the zones they were playing."
In its first game in franchise history last week, Bakersfield rallied from a 27-3 deficit late in the first half and beat the San Diego Riptide, 49-43, in overtime.
"We play big in the second half," Wofford said. "That seems to be our motto this season. We make adjustments at halftime, we come out and execute."
Bakersfield scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Islanders (1-1) scored just one touchdown and one field goal in the second half. They also missed a field goal and lost two fumbles.
"We had a few mishaps," Islanders lineman Miles Garner said. "We need to stay together and keep playing. Offensively, we need to make things happen. It starts on offense and ends with defense. We need to put up the points and make stops."
Julian Yearwood scored on a 1-yard run and Gabriel Crecion from 2 yards out in the second half. Elliott added a 25-yard touchdown pass to Wofford and a 37-yard scoring strike to Sloth.
"They just beat us in some coverages where we didn't bump them on their motion," Islanders head coach Guy Benjamin said. "We missed the bump and they got downfield on us."
Bakersfield scored two field goals and three touchdowns on its first five possessions of the first half. The Blitz ran just one play on their sixth possession before taking a 26-23 lead into halftime.
Bakersfield threw the ball 23 times in the first half and ran the ball just once. Elliott competed 13 of the 23 passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns. Wofford caught nine passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns in the half. Munson caught a 4-yard touchdown pass with seven seconds left in the half, and Robert Nycz booted field goals of 35 and 25 yards in the first quarter.
The Islanders scored three touchdowns and one field goal on their six first-half possessions.
The Islanders ran a balanced attack in the first half, running the ball nine times for 28 yards and completing 6 of 11 passes for 104 yards. Darnell Arceneaux threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Chris Paogofie midway through the second quarter. Arceneaux scored on a 7-yard run to cap the Islanders' opening drive, and Paogofie scored on a 2-yard run early in the second quarter. Jake Huggins booted a season-best 44-yard field goal with 1:28 left in the half.