Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Friday, Oct. 8, 2010 | 11:42 p.m.
The Las Vegas Locomotives handed the Omaha Nighthawks their first franchise loss Friday, nailing down a 22-10 win in front of a crowd of 9,767 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
After a slow start on both sides of the ball nearly allowed the Nighthawks to jump to an early two-possession lead, the Locomotives settled down and scored 19 unanswered points to finish the game.
Head coach Jim Fassell offered no explanation for the rough start but offered plenty of praise for the way his team responded.
“I was a little concerned when we started out shaky on both sides,” Fassell said. “But the defense did a good job, and the offense found our groove over time. We did a lot of good things tonight to get the win.”
The Nighthawks were set to jump to a significant lead early in the first quarter, thanks to poor plays by Las Vegas.
Nighthawks quarterback Jeff Garcia completed his first five passes, including a 21-yard strike to receiver Robert Ferguson for the game’s first score.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, Nighthawks defensive back Eric Green picked off a pass from Tim Rattay to set his team up in great field position.
The Nighthawks failed to capitalize on the turnover, however, when halfback Ahmad Green turned the ball back over on a fumble inside Las Vegas’ 10-yard line.
It proved to be a costly turnover for the Nighthawks.
“One thing we need to do is stop hurting ourselves,” said Omaha head coach Jeff Jagodzinski. “We’ve got to be able to hang on to the football. You lose the turnover battle, that’s no formula to win football games.”
The Nighthawks offense wasn’t done turning the ball over, as Garcia was later picked off twice by Isiah Trufant.
The 5-foot-8 Trufant gave the Locomotives a 16-10 lead at the half when he took his first pick 27 yards the other way for a score.
Garcia finished the day with 168 yards on 22-of-37 passing.
“Throughout the process of a game, you need something like that,” Fassel said of Trufant’s touchdown. “A big play like that was huge. Nobody wants (Trufant) because he’s too small, but he makes play after play for us.”
In a second half mostly dominated by defense, the Locomotives used a 75-yard drive early in the fourth quarter to increase its lead to 12 and chew up more than seven minutes of clock.
Running backs Marcel Shipp and Dede Dorsey combined for 108 yards on the ground, including a 14-yard touchdown run by Shipp, to cap the game-sealing drive.
“I think that drive really tired their defense and it gave our defense a chance to get rest,” Fassell said. “When we came back, our defense was fresh. That’s something you’re always looking for in the fourth quarter.”
The Locomotives improved to 2-1 overall and moved into a tie for first place in the league.