SAN JOSE, Calif. After going 0-for-March and April, the Utah Blaze won their first two games in May.
That modest two-game winning streak came to a halt late Saturday night at HP Pavilion, as the division-leading San Jose SaberCats downed the Blaze 74-64.
Utah actually led midway through the third quarter, 49-48, when the roof caved in. The Blaze gave up 19 consecutive points and couldn't recover despite a valiant comeback attempt in the final minutes.
San Jose, the defending ArenaBowl champions, improved to 7-5 with the victory, while the Blaze fell to 2-10 with the loss.
Utah quarterback Joe Germaine (325 yards passing and six TDs) hit Huey Whittaker for a 10-yard touchdown pass and Steve Videtich's extra point gave the Blaze a 49-48 lead with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But the SaberCats took over from there. San Jose quarterback Mark Grieb (nine TD passes) led a touchdown drive to return the lead to the SaberCats, 55-49. Germaine was sacked for a safety on Utah's next possession, giving San Jose an eight-point advantage.
A SaberCats field goal put them up 60-49 early in the fourth quarter and the game was pretty much put out of reach when San Jose added a Grieb touchdown pass following a Germaine fumble. Suddenly the SaberCats had turned a one-point deficit into an 18-point lead in a matter of eight minutes. It was reminiscent of the SaberCats' win in Salt Lake City last month, when they turned a close game into a blowout with a 27-0 run in the second half.
Utah ended San Jose's run with less than five minutes remaining in the game when Whittaker rushed for his second TD of the night on the ground. The Blaze got even closer after they turned a Damon Mason interception into another score, this one a Germaine to J.J. McKelvey pass, with one minute remaining. A successful two-point conversion cut the gap to just three, 67-64.
But San Jose recovered the ensuing onside kick and quickly scored to take a 74-64 lead. When a Germaine pass was intercepted in the end zone by Clevan Thomas with 18 seconds remaining, the comeback attempt was over.
Germaine finished the game with 325 yards passing and six touchdowns. Aaron Boone had a team-best 13 catches for 143 yards and a score, while McKelvey grabbed nine catches including three for touchdowns.
Grieb, meanwhile, threw nine touchdown passes, four of which went to James Roe.
The Blaze got off to a rough start when J'Sharlon Jones fumbled the opening kickoff and it was recovered by San Jose. The SaberCats scored to take an early 7-0 lead.
Both team's offenses were hot in the first half, as Utah scored touchdowns on six straight possessions and San Jose scored six times in seven tries and the teams were knotted 42-42 at intermission. The Blaze could have taken a halftime lead, but a 28-yard field goal attempt by Videtich went off the upright, no good, with three seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Utah will return home to host Chicago next Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.