By Tim Peterson
(Anaheim) – DeMarco Sampson caught a touchdown pass and also returned a kick 53 yards for a score to lead the LA KISS to a 37 -27 win over Las Vegas Saturday night at Honda Center.
Tied at 14 late in the first half Danny Southwick connected with Sampson for a 20-yard touchdown to give the KISS a 21-14 advantage. Darryl Cato-Bishop then sacked Outlaw quarterback JJ Raterink in the endzone for a safety and suddenly instead of being tied at the break the KISS had a 23-14 lead.
Then in the second half Sampson made another huge play. Las Vegas had cut the KISS advantage to 23-21 late in the third quarter and kicked off to LA. Sampson fielded the ball off the net three yards deep in the endzone and brought it out. He went one way, faked and then went another and after leaving several defenders in his wake suddenly he was in the clear. 53 yards later he was in the other end zone and just like that the KISS lead was back up to nine.
The KISS scored just one more time but that was needed to hold on.
“I love the way we’re playing right now. I wish we had these guys in the first half of the season,” said KISS Head Coach Bob McMillen. “I feel blessed and honored to be their coach.”
The KISS got started early when they stopped Las Vegas on its opening possession and then drove the length of the field and to go up 7-0. Miles Mason capped the march with a three-yard run.
The Outlaws get even early in the second quarter on a four-yard touchdown pass from JJ Raterink to Jason Willis. Danny Southwick tossed his first TD of the night hitting Tyrone Goard on a three-yard pass for a 14-7 lead.
Raterink scored on a two-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds left in the first half to tie it at 14.
The KISS answered with the next nine to swing the momentum back in their favor.
The KISS is stopped on the opening series of the second half and the Outlaws answer with a touchdown run by Dennis Havrilla to cut the lead to 23-21.
After Sampson’s huge return the Outlaws made one last push when Tysson Poots hauled in a touchdown pass from Raterink but the extra point failed to slice it to 30-27.
Rayshaun Kizer intercepted a pass on fourth down late in the fourth quarter to ice it. Kizer took the ball off of the defender’s chest and brought it back. The play was reviewed but the interception stood.
“I knew it would go our way. I don’t even know why they reviewed it to be honest. It was still a live ball,” Kizer said.
“Credit him for never giving up on a play,” McMillen said.
The KISS immediately cashed in when Southwick hooked up with Donovan “Captain” Morgan for a score to put the KISS up 37-27.
The KISS defense came up big again thwarting Vegas on downs. All they had to do at that point was run out the clock.
The KISS has won four of its last six games to improve to 4-11. Las Vegas fell to 5-10.
Despite their record the KISS still has a shot at the post season. Without getting into all the mathematics it’s safe to say the KISS needs to win out. Next week they play at Arizona followed by a trip to Tampa, before concluding the regular season with San Jose at home.