If you are were a fan of throwback defensive play of yesteryear, Saturday's season opening game was for your enjoyment. If you are also a fan of the Louisiana Lightning, the game may not have ended AS enjoyably as you would have wanted it to.
The Lightning defense showed up Saturday night but in the end, The Hammond Vipers were victorious in a 12-10, very lively, albeit low-scoring contest.
Lightning Head Coach Mike Anderson seemed frustrated with his team's inability to close out a game he feels his team should've easily won. "This one is sickening because we dominated the game. We need to learn how to close people out. We also lost the turnover battle. We can't win like that."
The Lightning set the tone early with a brash defensive stop on the opening drive. That was followed by a 7 play drive of their own, capped by a 36-yard David DeHarde field goal.
The Lightning really took control of the game after Darryl "Rell" Marchand caught a 21-yard TD pass during the second quarter to put his team ahead 10-0. Including the 2nd quarter TD grab, Marchand finished the day with 5 catches for 105 yards. That would be all scoring the Lightning would do for the day though.
Right before halftime, Vipers QB Jervious Epherson exploited a blown coverage in the Lightning secondary and zipped a perfect pass into the endzone where he found Demontrei Thomas for a score. Following a failed extra point attempt, the lead was trimmed to 10-6 going into halftime.
The Vipers took a 12-10 lead in the 3rd quarter when Epherson found receiver Henry Alton Reed, who was well defended, for a 30 yard TD pass which was deflected by Lightning CB Chris Davis before being caught by Reed.
The 4th quarter saw no scoring but was still a very entertaining & thrilling period.
With 3:10 remaining in the game, the Lightning attempted to regain the lead on another field goal. DeHarde's attempt was blocked by the Vipers. After forcing a quick Vipers 3 & out, the Lightning tried to mount a furious comeback. The punt on 4th down was returned 47 yards for a touchdown by Darryl Marchand, but called back by way of a holding penalty. The Lightning were in position to win the game on the last drive of the game. QB Jyron Walters found WR Trey Smith on a 35 yard pass that would have put the Lightning at the 1 yard line with under 2 minutes to go. That play was called back for illegal formation. With 2 big game changing plays not going in the Lightning's favor, their last attempt at a win was thwarted on a 4th down stop by the Viper defense.
After the game, Vipers receivers coach Traye Jones had this to say: "I feel like we played ok, we made a lot of mistakes but a win is a win. To survive in the APDFL we have to play much better." The Lightning defense held the Vipers to 84 yards rushing, and 88 passing yards on the day. Full Lightning stats can be found on the APDFL website by clicking here.
The Lightning look to even up in the win column on Saturday March 11th as they travel to Florida to take on the Florida Saints.