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In an otherwise back-and-forth battle, the Amarillo Venom used a late push to defeat the Salina Liberty 71-58 on Saturday night at the Amarillo Civic Center Complex Cal Farley Coliseum.
The first meeting between the Venom and the Liberty was tied at 58-58 with 1:31 left to play, before quarterback Nate Davis flung a 36 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Raymond Johnson Jr., who crashed into the wall while grabbing the go-ahead score.
“I just want to put the team on my back and let them know that if I’m here, then that means that they can follow and come out with this win,” Johnson Jr. said, who turned in a strong second half performance against Salina.
On the ensuing possession, the Liberty had the ball at the Amarillo 18 yard line and looked to tie up the game once more.
Salina quarterback Derek Racette found wide receiver Zach McClain for an 11 yard reception before Amarillo wide receiver/defensive back Julian Walker stripped McClain.
“I just did anything to make us win,” Walker said. “The ball popped out and I thought that the referee blew the whistle. I started celebrating and getting all happy, so I threw the ball to the fans in the stands.”
Unknown to the St. Joseph’s College product, the play was still live with 40 seconds to go, which prompted Salina offensive lineman Derrick Eshelman to give Walker chase to save the game-clinching touchdown. Defensive lineman Ra’Shondric Sheppard, who was heading down the field to catch up with Walker, was caught in a block by Eschelman.
The Tascosa and West Texas A&M grad then suffered a season-ending leg injury, which halted play and silenced the home crowd.
“At first we thought that it was something illegal,” Venom head coach Julian Reese said. “But it really wasn’t, it was just two guys going hard. He’s hurt, so we’re praying for him and we’re hoping for a speedy recovery.”
On Sunday, Sheppard appeared on the Amarillo Venom Facebook page to thanking the fans for their support and reassured that he will “be back soon.”
Once the game was restarted, running back Wyreaz Bradley rumbled into paydirt from 17 yards out with 33 seconds left.
Another highlight which shifted the momentum toward the Venom’s favor late was Johnson Jr., who filled in the defensive back spot, laid a hard hit to Salina wide receiver Joe Kassanavoid. This forced the Kansas State grad to drop the ball, as see the Liberty resort to a long field goal with 3:30 to go in the game.
“We play football for a reason,” Johnson Jr. said of the hit. “Just because they’re big and tall doesn’t mean you’re supposed fear. I didn’t fear, so I came up and hit him. He dropped the ball, our ball, there you go. End of story.”
Johnson Jr. then converted the field goal kick into a 41-yard return, which set up a quick Davis touchdown pass to wide receiver Kent McDonald to take a 58-51 lead with 3:16 left.
Venom wide receiver/defensive back Greg Jones also got in on the action early in the first half, capturing an interception in the endzone with less than seven minutes left in the first quarter.
“I really want to talk about Greg Jones and Julian Walker,” Reese said, praising his playmakers. “These are two receivers who we started at defensive back. We had one guy quit, had another get hurt and that’s what football is about: stepping up and doing a great job. Those two gentlemen really stepped up and that was outstanding. Another player I was really excited about was Kent McDonald. I challenged him this week, had a little man-to-man talk and he showed up, especially in the second half. I’m very proud of him.”
No game stats were reported to the Amarillo Globe-News.
The Venom will go back on the road this week, facing off against the San Angelo Bandits at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Foster Communications Coliseum in San Angelo. Amarillo will return home on May 7, hosting the San Angelo Bandits for the final game in their three-game season series.
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The Amarillo Venom rebounded in thrilling fashion, defeating the Mesquite Marshals 60-59 as kicker Jacob Felton nailed a 16-yard field goal with four seconds remaining.
To earn the game-winning chip shot, the Venom defensive unit were successful in defending a late Marshal two-point conversion, following a touchdown connection between Mesquite quarterback Kolton Browning and wide receiver Codell Roberson.
This left the Marshals with a 59-57 lead with 36 seconds left.
The Venom replied by moving the ball down to the Mesquite 3-yard line for Felton’s game-winner.
Down 53-50 with a minute and a half remaining, defensive back Leroy Trahan started the rally by snatching an interception in the back of the endzone. Quarterback Nate Davis then marched the Venom down the field before finding wide open wide receiver Kent McDonald on a 12-yard touchdown to complete the Venom comeback.
Amarillo (3-2) was trailing by 12 points at halftime, before making a furious rally in the second half.
Venom head coach Julian Reese had originally sat Davis for precautionary reasons for an undisclosed injury. However, Davis would find his way back on the field during the second quarter after back up quarterback Justin Billiot threw an interception.
Davis ended the night going 17-for-34 with 214 yards passing and four touchdowns. McDonald led the Venom receiving corps with seven catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Mesquite (1-5) was led by Browning, who went 15-for-22 for 223 yards and seven touchdowns. Browning also led the Marshals on the ground, running for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Amarillo will return home to face the Salina Liberty at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at the Amarillo Civic Center Complex Cal Farley Coliseum.
Venom 60, Marshals 59
Amarillo 10 6 27 17 — 60
Mesquite 6 19 20 14 — 59
MES—Eddie Johnson 23 pass from Kolt0n Browning (conversion failed)
AMA—Wyreaz Bradley 3 run (Jacob Felton kick)
AMA—Felton 23 field goal
MES—Jesse Shields 11 pass from Browning (Danny Hernandez kick)
MES—Cordell Roberson 5 pass from Browning (conversion failed)
AMA—Felton 16 field goal
MES—Browning 45 run (conversion failed)
AMA—Felton 27 field goal
AMA—Raymond Johnson 8 pass from Davis (Felton kick)
MES—Roberson 30 pass from Browning (conversion failed)
AMA—Jemichael Williams 48 kickoff return (Felton kick)
MES—Browning 21 run (conversion failed)
AMA—Greg Jones 14 pass from Davis (Felton kick)
MES—Johnson 27 pass from Browning (conversion failed)
AMA—Raymond Johnson Jr. 51 kickoff return (Felton kick)
MES—Mon Williams 24 pass from Browning (conversion failed)
AMA—Jaime Valenciano 17 pass from Davis (Felton kick)
AMA—Kent McDonald 12 pass from Davis (Felton kick)
MES—Roberson 16 pass from Browning (conversion failed)
AMA—Felton 16 field goal
First downs 23 18
Rushes-Yards 17-58 18-125
Passing-Yards 242 212
Total Yards 65-300 41-337
Comp-Att-Int 23-47-2 15-22-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-2
Penalties-Yards 8-69 9-55
RUSHING—Amarillo: Wyreaz Bradley 10-36; Leonard Dixon Jr. 3-8; Justin Billiot 1-8; Nate Davis 1-4; Raymond Johnson Jr. 2-2. Mesquite: Kolton Browning 7-73; Mon Williams 8-46; Shawn Jordan 2-3; Eddie Johnson 1-3.
PASSING—Amarillo: Davis 17-34-0, 214; Billiot 6-13-2, 30. Mesquite: Browning 15-22-1, 223.
RECEIVING—Amarillo: Kent McDonald 7-89; Raymond Johnson Jr. 7-58; Greg Jones 4-40; Tavi Jeffries 2-26; Jamie Valenciano 1-17; Wyreaz Bradley 1-8; Jordan DeCorte 1-6. Mesquite: Jesse Shields 6-73; Cordell Roberson 4-60; Eddie Johnson 3-58; Mon Williams 1-24; Daron 1-8.
Sioux City 4-2
Duke City 4-1
Dodge City 4-2
San Angelo 0-5
First Year Kory Stamps takes CIF Week 6 Top Honors
Amarillo, TX – The Champions Indoor Football League released its Players of the Week list today for week 6 and a Amarillo Venom rookie player was named with honors.
Defensive Back Kory Stamps was named CIF Defensive Player of the Week for the first time this season. Stamps had a stand-out game against the Duke City Gladiators with 2 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery. Stamps played college at Univ. of St. Francis-Fort Wayne. Stephanie Tucker, owner/GM echoed by Head Coach Julian Reese said, “Stamps has been a great addition to the Venom team, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”
Stephen Panasuk (QB) of the Wichita Force was named Offensive Player of the Week, with 6 touchdowns for 174 yards.
Isiah Barfield (DB), from the Salina Liberty, was named the Special Teams Player of the Week. He had 8 Kick off returns for 215 total yards.
Amarillo play the this weekend at Mesquite against the new CIF franchise the Mesquite Marshalls on Saturday, April 9th.
Amarillo next home is Saturday, April 16 when they host the Salina Liberty at Coors Light Field, Amarillo Civic Center Coliseum. Kickoff 7:05pm. It is AG night benefitting the local 4H and FFA Chapters and COLLEGE NIGHT were a portion of those tickets will go back to their participating alumni associations. Check out the venom website at www.govenom.com for more information.
For addition information, please contact Stephanie Tucker via the information at the top of this release.