Coming off their first National Arena League win, the Jersey Flight arrived home. Their first three games of the season took place in Trenton. Through their homestand, the Flight was winless. Last week, they got their redemption from the season opener, defeating the Carolina Cobras. This week, Jersey welcomed a new challenge.
Heading into the CURE Insurance Arena, the Orlando Predators notched a single victory. They matched the Flight in the standings. A win for Jersey would place them in the top half of the NAL. In a sprint to the finish of a short, eight-game season, the Flight needed back-to-back victories.
Against the Cobras, Jersey cleaned up their game on both sides of the ball while receiving contributions from the special teams. Terrence Foster acknowledged how important it was that his team was firing on all cylinders. To get ahead of the competition, that must become a trend.
“We do have a very disciplined team. From week one, all the way through now, we don’t get penalized much; and I think that comes from the way that we practice, and the way that we discipline each other, and hold each other accountable during our practices.”Terrence Foster; 6/25/21
In their final home game, the Flight faced the right opponent. Securing a home victory was crucial for the franchise.
Warren Smith found Robinson in one-on-one coverage. Instead of going for a clean catch, Robinson tipped the ball away from the defender, catching it before it hit the ground. Robinson was already on the turf, waiting for the ball to arrive for the score. Following the circus catch, Nick Jakelsky was unable to finesse the extra point.
Before the end of the quarter, Laughinghouse made his first of a few vital plays in this game. He leapt for the ball at its highest point before coming down with it across the goal line. Jakelsky found his footing after the touchdown, finishing the first quarter with a 13-9 Jersey Flight lead.
“I feel like every time I’m in high motion, they’re going to run a different defense than they do for everybody; so I just capitalize on what they give me, I run what they give me, and I do whatever I do when I get the ball.”Tyron Laughinghouse; 6/25/21
Laughinghouse Remains Clutch
Jared Dangerfield kicked off the second quarter with a rushing touchdown to extend the Jersey Flight lead. Nick Jakelsky followed with the extra point, making this a two-possession game. The Flight did not take off, however.
One more time, the Orlando Predators battled back to take the lead. En route to doing so, DJ Myers caught a pass over the boards for a touchdown. Then, Brandon Fuentes returned an interception for as far as you can in the NAL. He went from boundary to boundary.
With less than a minute remaining in the first half, Warren Smith had an opportunity to put his team ahead. Four seconds remained when Tyron Laughinghouse did it again, tapping his toes past the goal line on a shallow touchdown reception. The two-point conversion failed after the score, but Jersey led, 21-20, at halftime.
“We’re just starting to do the little things right.”Warren Smith Jr; 6/25/21
Short Field Advantage
Throughout the first half, the Jersey Flight went head to head with the Orlando Predators on offense. In the third quarter, the Flight began to separate themselves from the opposition because of their defense and special teams.
“There’s no better feeling than somebody succeeding against you in a football game, and then you coming right back and answering and stomping that momentum out.”Sean Daniels; 6/25/21
Daniels forced a fumble, eventually leading to a receiving touchdown by Jared Dangerfield. Carey forced a turnover on downs when he forced Faustino Saucedo out of bounds. That defensive stop allowed Warren Smith to connect with Tyron Laughinghouse again.
One defensive miscue allowed Saucedo to throw a touchdown pass to Prince Shonola. There was a miscommunication between Dwayne Hollis and Rashard Smith. Even Dezmond Epps went for the catch but let it go to Shonola. Aside from that, Jersey gained momentum to the tune of a 42-27 lead.
On Cruise Control
DJ Myers began the scoring in the final quarter with another touchdown over the wall. His spectacular catches were on display, keeping the Orlando Predators in striking distance on a couple of occasions. The Predators gave up points as quickly as they got them when Rashard Smith returned a blocked kick by Zack Mesday for a defensive two-point conversion. Desmond Maxwell added a score later in the quarter, but the Jersey Flight maintained their lead.
Calvin Fance and Warren Smith both rushed for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. For Fance, it was his first of the season.
Laroche Jackson iced the game, intercepting a pass from Faustino Saucedo in the endzone. As impressive as the Flight was on offense, spreading the scoring around, they matched the skill on defense and special teams. Another clean victory, 58-40, earned Jersey back-to-back wins heading into the bye week.
Photo Credit: Jersey Flight