Blaze to battle desperate Iowa

May 26 2011 - 7:47pm


DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Barnstormers need a win. And for an entirely different reason, so do the Utah Blaze.

The Blaze (5-4) earned a key divisional victory over the San Jose SaberCats last Saturday and now take on the Iowa Barnstormers (2-7) tonight at Wells Fargo Arena in an NFL Network-televised Arena Football League battle.

The Blaze sit second in the Western Division, and are squarely contention for a playoff spot.

The Barnstormers are last in the Central Division, and coach John Gregory recently resigned. So while Iowa desperately needs a win, Utah cannot overlook its opponent.

"You can never overlook anyone in this league," Utah coach Ron James said. "We've already done it this year and it has hurt our season standing. I can promise we won't be doing that against Iowa."

The Barnstormers are led by QB Brad Banks, who has 55 touchdowns on the season and rushed for five.

The Blaze have the league's top ranked offense, led by QB Tommy Grady who leads the AFL in nearly every passing statistical category. At the season's halfway point, Grady has thrown for 69 touchdown passes. He is on pace to demolish the AFL's all time record for touchdown passes in a season of 117, held by former Georgia Force QB Chris Greisen.

Defensively, DL Ceasar Rayford and DB Brandon Taylor are making the big plays. In last week's victory over San Jose, Rayford blocked an extra point attempt that clinched the win for the Blaze. Taylor also came up with a key interception at the goal line to prevent the SaberCats from scoring.

* GAME NOTES: Iowa defensive coordinator J.T. Smith will serve as their interim coach. ... The Blaze signed LB Casey Davis, a former Riverton High, Snow College and Utah State standout, this week.

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