by Andrew J. FerraroDaily Cougar Staff
With 13 players from the Southwest Conference on the Texas Terror roster, arena football in Houston has a bit of home cooking in store for the rest of the league.
Despite a strong showing from the Texas players and fans, the Texas Terror lost the battle between the expansion teams, 36-24, in a hard-fought game to the Minnesota Fighting Pike in front of 11,501 Saturday at the Summit.
Mistakes ruled the day as the two teams played their way through numerous donations en route to the Pike victory.
"It doesn't matter if this is the first game of the year or the season finale," Texas quarterback Jimmy Klingler said. "The bottom line is the fact that we didn't do what it takes to win a ball game. We made too many mistakes."
In the opening quarter, after each team had failed on its opening drive, Minnesota jumped out to an early 6-0 lead when defensive back Adrian Lunsford recovered a Robert Hall fumble and danced into the end-zone.
Five minutes later, Houston fullback Kevin Wolfolk ran in from two yards out, tying the score at six apiece.
Although Klingler couldn't quite find a rhythm, completing just one of his first six pass attempts, four Pike penalties set up the scoring drive for the Terror that ended the scoring in the first 15 minutes.
After an 18-yard field goal by Pike Mike Vanderjagt, the Terror took its first lead of the game when Klingler connected on a 20-yard pass to Chris Ford, giving the team a temporary 12-9 lead.
Four minutes later, Minnesota quarterback Rickey Foggie and wide receiver Tony Levine teamed up for an all-University of Minnesota alumnus touchdown, which propelled the Pike to a 15-12 lead.
Vanderjagt's extra-point attempt split the narrow 9-foot-wide uprights, presenting Houston fans with a rare sight -- a successful point-after attempt.
Both teams were unsuccessful on their first three attempts, including two by the Terror (one run and one kick). Vanderjagt missed his first attempt.
Four minutes after Levin scored his first touchdown of the evening, he recovered a fumble from Klingler and ran it back 34 yards. After the two-point conversion attempt failed, the Pike found itself leading by 11 with 2:48 left in the half.
Just before half-time, the Terror cut the deficit by six when Klingler and former Texas A&M Aggie Greg Lewis combined for a two-yard touchdown pass.
Once again, the two-point conversion attempt failed, and after 30 minutes of play, the Fighting Pike lead the Terror 23-18.
Although one pass can turn around the high scoring games of the AFL, defense was the key for the Terror comeback and was the murder weapon in the Pike victory.
While Terror kicker Richard DeFelice kicked two field goals, giving the team a short-lived 24-23 lead, the Texas defense posted a shutout in the third quarter in scoring the six unanswered points.
Just eight seconds into the final 15 minutes, the Pike broke through and scored on an eight-yard pass from Foggie to Reggie Brown.
After the Minnesota touchdown, Texas was held scoreless in the fourth quarter and in the meantime was beat on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Alvin Ashley that all but killed any hope of a Terror comeback.
"We got beat deep," Terror coach John Paul Young said. "One of our primary goals is to not get beat deep, and their quarterback did a very admirable job in taking advantage of our mistakes and finding a rhythm."
Klingler had a decent game in his third AFL start, passing for two touchdowns on 14-29 passing for 154 yards.
His counterpart, Foggie, completed 20 of 39 pass attempts, throwing for 238 yards and three touchdowns.
Each of the two quarterbacks threw an interception, and Klingler was not picked off until there was just 40 seconds remaining in the game.
"It's probably hard to see from the stands, but we made a number of mistakes," Young said. "Busted routes, busted protection, busted coverages, missed tackles -- all of which are very coachable mistakes.
"I've got to drill them and drill them and drill them and drill them and keep on drilling them until we eliminate those little things."