Blaze take hold of playoff spot with win

Jun 9 2012 - 10:33pm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Firing on all cylinders, the Blaze improved to 8-5 after a 28-0 start led to a 68-28 thrashing of the Chicago Rush on Saturday night.

Utah posted 389 yards of total offense and held the Rush to 211 at EnergySolutions Arena as the Blaze took a firm hold on the fourth playoff spot in the Arena Football League's National Conference.

"We played with the energy and we played in all three phases," Utah coach Ron James said. "I challenged them in the locker room to play a complete game. We had not done that all year long; we finally did."

Grady and the Blaze offense came into Saturday's contest after posting a franchise-record 436 passing yards on an all-time AFL best 46 completions during last week's game at Kansas City.

Utah's shot caller threw for 366 yards and seven touchdowns on a 32-of-45 performance against Chicago and is averaging a league-leading 338.2 yards per game.

Grady also tops the league with 101 touchdowns and Utah is leading the league in total team offense (343.3 yards per game).

Tysson Poots led the Blaze offense with 130 yards on 12 catches finding the end zone three times while Shaun Kauleinamoku and AaronLesue combined for 172 yards and four scores on 16 catches.

Fullback Ben Stallings racked up 26 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Utah amassed a 41-14 halftime lead.

Utah's defense continued to improve shutting out the Rush through the first quarter, holding quarterback Russ Michna to 161 yards and two passing touchdowns.

Michna entered Saturday's game leading the AFL with a pass efficiency rating of 70 percent, but the Blaze secondary -- anchored by defensive back Will Mulder -- showed vast improvement holding the southpaw to a 16-of-29 night through the air.

"If we play like this, like the way we did tonight," Mulder said about a defense that shut out Chicago in both the first and fourth quarters. "There's nobody that can beat us."

The defensive front sacked Michna once for a team total of 26 through 12 games (second in the league), and Mulder grabbed the game's only interception of the night late in the fourth quarter.

Rush wide-out Reggie Gray grabbed a team-high 11 catches for 87 yards and two scores while Michna ran in the Chicago's other two touchdowns.

Utah will travel to Spokane for a division match-up with the Shock next Saturday before returning home to host the Georgia Force on June 23.

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