SAN JOSE, Calif. - Despite an impressive defensive effort, the Utah Blaze dropped a 35-34 decision to the San Jose SaberCats in a dramatic battle on Saturday night in Arena Football League action. Utah's defense came up with five stops in the game, holding SaberCats quarterback Russ Michna to just 72 yards on 7-of-19 passing in the second half.
Utah fell to 4-5 on the season.
Trailing 35-34 midway through the final frame, the Blaze defense came up with two stops on consecutive series. David Hyland halted the ensuing San Jose drive and Maurice Leggett broke up a fourth-down pass a possession later to give the ball back to Utah with 32 seconds remaining.
However, the Blaze offense was unable to find the end zone on four plays and San Jose would run out the clock the seal the game.
On the second play from scrimmage, Michna lofted a pass to the end zone into the waiting arms of Blaze defensive back Josh Ferguson. Facing fourth-and-goal on the resulting drive, Grady promptly silenced the crowd with a nine-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver AJ Jackson. San Jose would tie the game off a five-yard scoring completion from Michna to wide receiver Huey Whittaker.
On the ensuing possession, Grady fired a pass over the middle to wide receiver Aaron Lesue, who cut up field and barreled through two defenders before crossing the goal line for the score. The SaberCats evened things up as Michna found wide receiver Fred Williams for a touchdown.
San Jose took a 21-14 lead late in the second quarter after Michna hit wide receiver Jason Willis on a 41-yard touchdown pass. Utah quickly answered as offensive coordinator Matthew Sauk dove into the depths of his playbook to catch the SaberCats off guard. On third-and-goal, Grady tossed the ball to Lesue, who faked the run before lofting a touchdown pass to a wide open Chase Deadder.
The SaberCats would take a 21-20 lead into the locker room at the midway point due to a missed point after attempt.
Utah looked poised to score after two long completions to open the third quarter, but Grady's third pass attempt was intercepted by defensive back Clevan Thomas, who returned it the length of the field for a touchdown. However, the Blaze signal caller quickly shook off the turnover and led his team to a score on the following drive. Facing fourth-and-goal, Grady slid to his right and shed a defender before rocketing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Lesue to cut San Jose's lead, 28-27.
Following a seven-yard touchdown pass from Michna to Willis, the reigning MVP executed another gutsy play to lead the Blaze to the end zone. With the pocket collapsing around him, Grady stepped up to avoid pressure - shaking off arm tackles - and fired a 17-yard score to Lesue.
Utah travels to Texas for its second consecutive road game in Week 10. The team will battle the San Antonio Talons at the Alamodome on Monday, June 3.