SALT LAKE CITY — It looked like a backyard brawl — minus the mud.
Utah and San Jose aren't inviting each other over for Christmas parties. The two division rivals teamed up for 25 penalties, most of which were personal fouls, in a rugged after-the-whistle game that ultimately swung in the Blaze's favor in a 60-59 win at EnergySolutions Arena Saturday night.
"Whew! Great," Utah's Alvance Robinson said when asked how it felt to beat the SaberCats. "All we've been hearing is that they're the best team and we're gonna get ran out in our own house. We got no respect all week. We wanted to make them feel this atmosphere — it's rough. We're used to it and we wanted to get the W."
Robinson gave the Blaze (2-1) an early 7-0 lead with 8:06 in the first quarter. He finished with 12 receptions for a game-high 165 yards and three touchdowns.
San Jose (1-1) was quick to respond behind signal-caller Mark Grieb. The SaberCats entered the game leading the AFL in total offense, passing offense and scoring offense.
With 40.3 seconds in the first, San Jose evened the score at 13 apiece when Samore Goodson burned Blaze defensive back DeWayne Patterson. As Goodson slowed down for the celebration in the end-zone, Patterson unloaded a blatant late-hit personal foul that nearly required ejection.
It was a sign of things to come for the remainder of the game.Comment on this story
"It's just so hard to watch that many penalty flags on the field," Utah coach Ron James said. "I'm a little frustrated about that. Personal fouls happen in the heat of the battle when you're against a division rival. We got to get a little bit more maturity in those situations."
After San Jose took a 59-53 lead with 35.1 seconds left, Tommy Grady placed a perfectly thrown ball to Robinson down the sideline to the San Jose 13-yard line.
Then, with 9.2 seconds left, Robinson hauled in a lob over two defenders for the 60-59 lead.
The SaberCats, still with a chance, elected to attempt a field-goal from the 23-yard line that sailed well left of the uprights.