Firecats burn error-prone Vipers
By Skip Vaughn
Special to The Daily
HUNTSVILLE — The Tennessee Valley Vipers entered Friday night’s game hoping to slow down the high-powered Florida Firecats.
Florida beat the Vipers 61-34 before 4,185 fans at the Von Braun Center.
“More games are lost than won,” said Vipers coach Milt Theodosatos, whose team fell to 1-1. “Are you sure this is not Dec. 25th? We were giving away Christmas gifts to Florida. We made every error in the book.”
Florida quarterback Chris Wallace completed 19-of-33 passes for 220 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception.
Tennessee Valley quarterback Tony Colston connected on 21-of-39 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He was sacked three times.
“Today, I feel I didn’t get my job done as well as I was supposed to do,” Colston said. “I’ve just got to keep my head up and just got to come back out. It’s a long season. I wasn’t at my best and I’ve just got to get better.”
Florida opened the scoring in the first quarter at the 5:35 mark when Wallace threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Ethenic Sands. Andy Eminger kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead, capping a six-play, 48-yard drive.
The Vipers scored on the first play of the second quarter when Colston scrambled four yards for a touchdown. But Firecats lineman Comone Fisher blocked Steven Lee’s extra-point try.
The Firecats upped their lead to 13-6 on another Wallace-to-Sands 21-yarder.
After a Florida turnover, Colston scrambled one yard for a touchdown, and Lee added the extra point, making it 13-13 with 2:15 left in the half.
Wallace threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Chris McKinney in the final minute of the half, and Eminger tacked on the extra point for a 20-13 lead.
The Vipers answered when Colston connected with Henry Freeman from eight yards out with 33 seconds left. Lee’s kick knotted the game again.
Florida struck again on the final play of the first half when Wallace threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Brent Burnside, capping a five-play, 45-yard drive. Eminger’s kick put the Firecats up 27-20 at halftime.
The Firecats’ Chris McKinney returned the second-half kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown and 34-20 lead.
McKinney caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to make it 41-20.
Tennessee Valley closed within 41-28 on Colston’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Isaiah and Lewis Howes’ 2-point conversion run.
But the Firecats padded their cushion on Wallace’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Sands for the final points of the third quarter and a 48-28 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Florida added a 7-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to Fisher and a 23-yard fumble recovery by McKinney.
Tennessee Valley got a 56-yard kickoff return by Travis Blanchard.
The Vipers return to action against the South Georgia Wildcats on Saturday in Albany, Ga.
Huntsville police have arrested Tennessee Valley Vipers player Shaheed Richardson, who is charged with insurance fraud in Lubbock, Texas.
Police spokesman Wendell Johnson said Richardson, 26, was arrested April 6, the Huntsville Times reported on its Web site Friday. Police in Huntsville had received a teletype from the Lubbock Police Department asking that he be held there on a fugitive from justice warrant for insurance fraud.
Richardson had played in the afl2 for the Amarillo Dusters. Johnson said Richardson was drawing worker’s compensation when he came to Huntsville to play for the Vipers.
“He wasn’t supposed to be playing” for the Vipers, Johnson said.
“When he showed up for practice they picked him up and held him on a fugitive from justice warrant.”
Richardson remained in the Madison County Jail on Friday awaiting extradition to Texas.
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