Night Train fall in opener

03/17/02 LaCrosse Tribune
KEARNEY, Neb. - The Tri-City Diesel gave quarterback Colby Vogt and the La Crosse Night Train anything but a warm welcome to the National Indoor Football League.

The Diesel intercepted Vogt seven times as they thumped the Night Train 49-18 Saturday night at the Tri-City Arena. Though the adjusted schedule had La Crosse playing the franchise's first game after just four practices, defensive back Michael Griffin wasn't making any excuses.

"We should have been more ready," said Griffin, a former University of Minnesota cornerback who led the Night Train defense with 10 tackles and an interception. "For me, I think I can get better. To tell you the truth, I did miss a couple tackles."

The Night Train took a 12-10 lead in the second quarter when Vogt threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to former Minnesota receiver Frank Jackson. But Tri-City's Jeremy Jenson picked off a Vogt pass on the next La Crosse possession with 2 minutes to play in the half and returned it 30 yards for a score. Jenson had three interceptions for the Diesel.

Safety Jay Christensen picked off another Vogt pass just before the half, and the Diesel went to the locker room with a 19-12 lead. Christensen had two interceptions in the game.

"It was a tough night for us," Griffin said. "It's always easy for the defense to come in sync before the offense. It's a long season and we've got a long road ahead of us."

The second half may have seemed like an entire season for the Night Train, as Vogt - the No. 1 starter after former Gopher Rickey Foggie spurned the team and signed to play in the Arena League - threw three more interceptions. He completed just 13 of 34 passes on the night for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

The Night Train defense finally gave way to the Tri-City running game in the second half, as tailback Dale Van Housen scored four of his five touchdowns on runs of six, two, 12 and two yards.

Vogt added the lone second-half score for La Crosse on a one-yard quarterback sneak.

La Crosse now has until March 29 to prepare for its home opener at the La Crosse Center against a fellow expansion team, the Lincoln Capitols.

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