WEST VALLEY CITY -- Maybe the Utah Blaze should let Brandon Hampton kick.
The Blaze defender continued to produce big plays, and Brett Elliott's offense showed vast improvement, but special teams did in Utah Saturday night as the Alabama Vipers posted a 63-54 win before an announced crowd of 4,898 at the E Center
The obvious difference was the kicking of Alabama Brian Jackson, who was perfect on eight PAT attempts while his Utah counterpart, Kenny Byrd, struggled mightily. Byrd missed four extra points and two field goals before Utah gave up and started going for two.
Utah showed promise on offense as Elliott matched Kevin Eakin score-for-score in the opening 30 minutes.
Elliott finished 21-of-38 for 231 yards and four touchdowns -- two to Aaron Boone (8 catches, 84 yards) and one each to Wendall Williams (7-90) and Chris Francies (6-57). Mickey Piemental rushed for two scores.
After scoring two touchdowns on kickoff returns last week, Hampton electrified the crowd, scoring the first two times he touched the ball on a first quarter interception return than another kickoff return. Hampton's biggest play perhaps came midway through the second quarter.
Alabama had just taken a 28-25 lead and got the ball back when Michael Johnson beat Hampton to the squib quick. Johnson caught a crossing pattern from Eakin on the first play and was just steps to putting the Vipers up two scores.
But at the last second, Hampton stripped Johnson of the ball and Antonio Malone recovered. Five plays later, Utah regained the lead and the scoring exchange continue.
Alabama finally pulled away in the third quarter, taking a 49-38 lead on Dan Alexander's third rushing touchdown of the night after the Viper defense registered a stop.
Utah plays its first road game next Friday at Chicago.