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August 28, 2014

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pro football:

Locomotives win inaugural UFL championship in overtime

Isaiah Trufant interception sets up game-winning field goal

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Justin M. Bowen

Las Vegas Locomotives head coach Jim Fassel holds up the championship trophy with his team after they beat the Florida Tuskers 20-17 in the first UFL Championship at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Locomotives Win UFL Championship

The Las Vegas Locomotives beat the Florida Tuskers 20-17 in overtime Friday afternoon to capture the UFL's first championship.

UFL Championship Game

The Las Vegas Locomotives hold up kicker Graham Gano after he kicked in the game winning field goal in overtime for their 20-17 win over the Florida Tuskers in the UFL Championship game Friday at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

A few hours before the kickoff of the United Football League Championship Game, Las Vegas coach Jim Fassel had to ask cornerback Isaiah Trufant if he thought he could play.

Trufant sat out of practice all week with two pulled groins and was listed as questionable on the injury report.

Fassel won’t soon forget Trufant’s answer.

“I’ll give you everything I got for as long as I got,” Trufant told Fassel.

Not only did Trufant play, but he also made the biggest play in the league’s short history. Trufant intercepted a pass in overtime to set up a game-winning field goal as the Las Vegas Locomotives beat the Florida Tuskers 20-17 in front of 14,801 fans at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Trufant picked off Florida’s Brooks Bollinger at the team’s 14-yard line three plays into overtime. Although Trufant fumbled after making the snag, Tony Parrish quickly recovered the ball to set Graham Gano up for the game-winning 33-yard field goal.

“It was somewhat of a gutsy play,” Trufant said. “We were in man coverage and I saw another receiver coming out towards me, so I thought I could jump that ball.”

The game was full of gutsy plays for the Locomotives. They trailed 7-3 going into the fourth quarter and their running game appeared ineffective.

But DeDe Dorsey broke a 38-yard touchdown run two minutes into the fourth quarter to give Las Vegas a 10-7 lead.

Dorsey finished with 66 yards rushing on 11 carries, 32 yards receiving on four receptions and two rushing touchdowns. Commissioner Michael Huyghue awarded Dorsey with Most Valuable Player honors for his performance.

“With it being the first-ever championship, it means a lot,” Dorsey said. “Being the first team to ever win it, we’ll always have that. As far as the MVP, as long as we’re winning, I’m happy.”

But the outcome clearly would have been different without Dorsey. Less than two minutes after his first touchdown, Florida scored when Bollinger found Frank Murphy on a slant route in the end zone to retake the lead at 14-10.

Dorsey scored another touchdown a few minutes later to make the score 17-14 after Ross Kolodziej returned a fumble forced by Adrain Awasom to the one-yard line.

“They fought like I haven’t seen a team fight,” Fassel said.

“There’s something about how it was so important to these guys.”

Florida kicked a 27-yard field goal with two minutes remaining to send the game into overtime.

Before Trufant’s interception, officials flagged the Tuskers for holding on the overtime kick return, which forced them to start their drive inside their own 10-yard line.

“I told our guys after that game that if you don’t take anything else from this league, take that you can’t have a couple of penalties in overtime and then throw an interception,” Florida coach Jim Haslett said.

Florida entered the game as the favorite, as it had beaten Las Vegas in both of the team’s regular season meetings.

It looked like the Tuskers might roll to their third victory against the Locomotives early when Bollinger threw a touchdown pass to Marcus Maxwell in the first quarter.

But Las Vegas kept its composure to enable a comeback. At the end of the day, the UFL Championship trophy found its way to the Las Vegas locker room.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Fassel said. “I’m kind of sedate right now from the whole feeling.”

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