The New Orleans VooDoo seem to have this road thing under control.
Despite being 0-4 at home, the VooDoo have now won two of their last three road games following Saturday night's 59-52 victory at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri before a sparse, strangely silent crowd of 4,422 in an entertaining contest.
All season long, New Orleans has struggled across the board in the midst of a 1-6 start with the primary culprits being the secondary,Â turnovers, sacks allowedÂ and a lack of offense.Â The VooDoo handled all aspects well at Kansas City, leading to a huge road win.
Jerron Wishom returned an interception 54 yards for a score on a tipped pass and later separated Aaron Hosack from the football on fourth-and-goal from the New Orleans three-yard line with 11 seconds left to preserve the victory.
Matt Jackson added an interception while Alvin Ray Jackson recovered a loose ball on a kickoff as New Orleans forced three turnovers while turning it over twice, winning the turnover battle for the first time this season. At any level and in any form of football, if you win the turnover battle, you typically win the game.
The 59 points scored were the most produced by the VooDoo this season. They scored 21Â points in the decisive fourth quarter.
In his second start, Chris Wallace played well, avoiding a pair of possible interceptions and surviving an interception return for a score in the first half to complete 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards and four scores with one interception. Wallace was protected well, as the New Orleans front did not allow a sack for the first time this season.
So frustrated was the Command defense that it incurred three personal foul penalties for roughing Wallace.
New Orleans started fast with Jonathan Ruffin connecting on his first field-goal of the season, a 32-yard effort on the first possession of the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jonathan Ruffin hit the frame of the netting with the ball caroming back on to the field with Alvin Ray Jackson recovering for New Orleans at the Kansas CityÂ two-yard line.
The VooDoo took immediate advantage with James Harris scoring from two-yards out to take a 10-0 lead.
Kansas City cut the deficit to 10-7 on a 19-yard touchdown pass from J.J. RaterinkÂ to Bret Smith to make it 10-7.
New Orleans struck back quickly, driving 34 yards in four plays, scoring on a 13-yard run by Tommy Taggart, who bulldozed his way in to make it 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Command pulled within 17-14 on a 16-yard pass fromÂ Raterink to Smith to make it 17-14 early in the second quarter but New Orleans answered as Wallace found a streaking JamesÂ Jordan on a perfectly thrown deep ball for a score to make it 24-14.
After Matt Jackson picked offÂ Raterink, New Orleans had a chance to take control of the game but Erick Harris picked off a Wallace pass on an out-route and returned it 27-yards for a touchdown to make it 24-21 New Orleans.
Undaunted, Wallace rebounded with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chris Wilson to make it 31-21 with 27 seconds left in the half.
The Command got a huge boost, scoring on the final play of the first half on a touchdown pass from Raterink to Christian Wise to cut the halftime deficit to 31-28.
Kansas City took theÂ second half kickoff and took its first lead of the game, driving 13 yards in three plays following a good kickoff return by Carlton Brown, scoring on a one-yard run by Victor Mann to make it 35-31 Command.
The VooDoo recaptured the lead, driving 47 yards in six plays, scoring on a one-yard run by Taggart, who was hit hard, lost his helmet, bounced off of the hit, banged his forehead on the unforgiving artificial turf and scored to make it 38-35 New Orleans. Taggart suffered an abrasion to his forehead but played on the rest of the way.
Hosack then put the Command back on top with an eight-yard touchdown reception from Raterink to make it 42-38 Kansas City at the end of the third quarter.
After getting a stop, the Command drove to the New Orleans 17 but stalled and Brian Umstead kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it 45-38 Command with 13:17 to play in the game.
New Orleans got even as Wallace found Jordan deep down the right side on a perfectly thrown ball to tie the game 45-45 with 12:21 to play.
Then came the first big play in deciding the outcome.
With the Command driving for the go-ahead score at the New Orleans four-yard line, Wishom caught a pass which deflected off the hands ofÂ Wise in the endÂ zone and returned it 54 yards for a score to give the VooDoo a 52-45 lead with 8:33 to play in the game.
Kansas City got even, driving 45 yards in six plays with Wise scoring on a three-yard run to tie the game 52-52.
Wallace thenÂ produced the winning points on a 38-yard touchdown pass toÂ Wilson, who out jumped a defender and scored to make it 59-52.
The Command had one last opportunity,Â beginning a drive at their own six-yard line with 2:05 to play.
Kansas City drove to the New OrleansÂ three-yard line with 15 seconds left. Following a timeout, Raterink's pass to Hosack in the flat fell incomplete as Wishom defended Hosak well. The VooDoo then ran out the clock to secure the win.
Jordan was the National Guard Most Valuable Player of the Game, catching eight passes for 123 yards and two scores. With injuries to Lucas Taylor, Carlese Franklin and Hutch Gonzales, Jordan stepped up to compliment P.J. Berry.
Taggart finished with three carries for 14 yards and two touchdowns and was named the JLS Ironman of the Game. TheÂ focal point of the Kansas City defense and kick coverage team, Berry was held to seven catches for 55 yards and 82 yards in returns, his lowest total output of the season.
Ruffin was outstanding, making all eight extra points, his first field goal of the year and placing kickoffs very well, resulting in one turnover.
VooDoo coach Derek Stingley did not decide on a starting quarterback until Saturday afternoon, anguishing over whether to go with Wallace or Danny Wimprine. He made the difficult choice and it paid off with the best offensive showing of the season.
Matt Jackson led the VooDoo with 8.5 tackles.
Both teams are now 2-6 following the New Orleans victory. The VooDoo return home for the first of two consecutiveÂ games at New Orleans Arena, hosting the Tulsa Talons on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Graveyard.
While the fans in Kansas City were as silent as a graveyard, the VooDoo made a lot of noise on the field and on the bus after the game. Success breeds celebration. New Orleans earned the right to celebrate with a solid effort. Now, about winning a home game.....
**VooDoo owner Dan Newman and his wife Mary Ann made the 550-mile trip from Shreveport to Kansas City on Newman's Harley-Davidson, stopping in Carthage, Missouri to spend the night Friday before motoring the rest of the way on Saturday.
**VooDoo Director of Football Operations Cory Fleming, a former Arena League star, made his first road trip of the season.
**The Sprint Center, built in 2007, is aÂ sparkling, impressiveÂ building, defined by an all glassÂ exterior with two levels of suites, several halo boards and a superb scoreboard configuration. Kansas City has hosted both NBA and NHL exhibition games and is hot to trot to lure an existing NBA franchise to the city and facility. About that ownership situation with the Hornets.....
**Kaufmann Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, is still a gem, a beautiful ballpark with no bad seats, a nice concourse, clean, good concessions, the signature water fountains in the outfield and the signature giant scoreboard in the shape of the Royals' logo in centerfield. The park opened in 1973 and was renovated in 2009 and it remains a good pitcher's park.
**Defensive back Jasper O' Quinn left the game in the second quarter with an injured elbow and did not return. He will be evaluated further on Monday.
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