PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The Utah Blaze routed the Pittsburgh Power 64-33, showing off a bevy of newcomers, in the opening game of the Arena Football League season on Saturday evening.
The Blaze defense forced seven turnovers on the night, nearly shutting out the Power in the second half.
FB Ben Stallings scored the first touchdown of 2013, capping off a short drive with a two-yard touchdown. QB Jordan Jefferson tied the game for Pittsburgh off a 12-yard scoring toss to WR Mike Washington. Utah briefly regained the lead, as QB Tommy Grady found rookie WR Mario Urrutia, who eluded a defender on the way to a 35-yard touchdown run.
Jefferson hooked up with Washington on a nine-yard scoring completion during the first play of the second quarter, but Utah took over from there. After a deep kickoff return by WR Brandon Thompkins, Urrutia responded to the Power score with a 17-yard touchdown reception to take a 21-14 lead.
The Blaze defense forced its first turnover of the game on the ensuing possession, as DE Caesar Rayford sacked Jefferson at the opponent's goal line. WR Chase Deadder made quick work of the turnover, converting the fumble into points off a one-yard touchdown run to give Utah a 27-14 lead.
On the first play of the ensuing Pittsburgh drive, Jefferson fumbled the exchange from his center and JLB Antwan Marsh scooped up the loose ball before rumbling into the end zone from three yards out for a 34-14 advantage in the second quarter.
The Power finally got on the board again during the following drive, as Jefferson lofted a 24-yard touchdown to WR Christian Wise. Grady connected with WR L.J. Castile from 18 yards out and Jefferson found Wise again on a 16-yard touchdown pass to close out the scoring in the first half, as Utah took a 41-27 lead into the locker room at the midway point.
Utah's defense took control of the game in the second half, beginning with an interception by DB David Hyland on the opening drive of the third quarter. During Pittsburgh's next drive, JLB Antwan Marsh batted a pass by Jefferson and DB Maurice Leggett picked it off to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Stallings.
Defensive end Mike Alston accounted for Utah's third consecutive turnover, as he sacked Jefferson deep in Pittsburgh territory and jarred the ball free. The Power recovered the loose ball in the end zone, resulting in a safety for the Blaze. On the ensuing possession, Urrutia made a diving touchdown catch over the boards to increase the Blaze lead, 57-27.
Urrutia added his fourth and final touchdown reception following another turnover on downs by the Power, as he snared a seven-yard touchdown from Tommy Grady. Pittsburgh added a final touchdown as time expired to seal the Utah victory, 64-33.
Grady completed 17-of-33 pass attempts for 190 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. Urrutia led the receivers with five receptions for 76 yards and four scores, while Castile snared five balls for 50 yards and one touchdown.
DB Maurice Leggett led all defenders with seven tackles and added a 33-yard interception. DE Mike Alston and DT Keenan Mace notched 1.5 sacks each while DE Caesar Rayford posted one solo sack. DB David Hyland posted two tackles with one interception and two pass breakups.
Utah returns to Salt Lake City next week to take on the defending ArenaBowl Champion Arizona Rattlers at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday.