SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Blaze defeated the San Jose SaberCats 76-68 in front of 8,815 fans at EnergySolutions Arena late Saturday, moving Utah (5-4) into second place in the AFL's Western Division behind Arizona (8-2).
"This was a game we needed to win," Utah coach Ron James said. "We've talked about it all year how we need to take advantage of our home field advantage and we did just that.
"Now we have to keep it rolling next week at Iowa."
The Blaze opened the game by scoring on a 10-yard pass from QB Tommy Grady to WR Ernie Pierce). After the SaberCats responded one play later with a touchdown of their own on a 13-yard pass from QB Mark Grieb to WR Ben Nelson, the Blaze notched two more TDs, connecting with WR Chris Bocage and WR Alvance Robinson.
The defense held the SaberCats to just one score, a four-yard rushing touchdown by FB Chad Cook (6-1, 263, Murray State), giving the Blaze a 21-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
San Jose started the second quarter with another Cook rushing touchdown, tying the game at 21. Each of the team's went on to score an additional two touchdowns before entering the locker room tied at 35 at halftime.
The third quarter went back and forth with each offense scoring on every possession. The Blaze began to ignite after Brocage returned the kick for a touchdown, but San Jose ended the quarter on top, 55-49.
Utah opened the fourth quarter with another touchdown pass from Grady to Pierce, regaining the lead, 56-55. On the ensuing drive, the Blaze forced a key turnover on downs and took advantage with a three yard touchdown pass from Grady to OL Jason Boone, extending their lead to seven.
The teams exchanged touchdowns, but the Blaze clinched the lead after DL Caesar Rayford blocked the SaberCats extra point attempt. The blocked extra point gave the Blaze a one point lead with only 28 seconds remaining. On the ensuing drive, Grady closed that gap and rushed for an eight yard touchdown and the Blaze held on for a 76-68 win.
Grady completed 23-of-32 passes for nine touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown.