Sharks earn sweet win over Crude with strong defensive effort

06/16/02 Lake Charles American Press
The Lake Charles LandSharks completed the season sweep over Enid with a 48-27 National Indoor Football League victory over the Crude here Saturday night.

Four weeks ago the LandSharks knocked off the Oklahoma team 60-6 at the Civic Center.

"They were a much better team this time around," said LandSharks coach Kip Texada. "I'm sure they watched plenty of film from the first game and they were effective against us in the beginning and forced us to make some adjustments."

The LandSharks (11-1) return home to host the Louisiana Rangers of Alexandria in the their final regular-season home game. Lake Charles has already secured a home playoff game.

"We got off to a slow start," said Texada, whose squad trailed 20-17 at halftime as the Crude was vying for its biggest upset of the season. "We were losing at halftime because we were giving up scoring opportunities.

"But, we were able to put up enough points to get the lead and hold on for the win."

The Crude (1-10) jumped out to a 20-10 first-quarter lead without the benefit of an offensive touchdown. Ricky Johnson picked off a pass with 12:42 remaining in the first quarter and nearly returned it all the way to the end zone. The ball was stripped just short of the goal line, but Garland Hunt scooped up the ball and carried it in for the first score.

Lake Charles answered with a 31-yard field goal from kicker Whitney Hillen to get within 6-3.

On the next LandShark possession, Hillen attempted a 55-yard field goal that fell well short of the uprights and landed instead in the able hands of Hunt.

Hunt took the ball coast-to-coast for the Crude's second touchdown of the game, giving Oklahoma a 13-3 lead with five minutes left in the quarter.

Lake Charles answered with a 6-yard touchdown run from running back Freddy Bynum to cut the lead to three.

The ensuing kickoff saw the third special-teams touchdown of the game for the Crude as Anthony Van Dyke sprinted 50 yards and a 10-point Oklahoma lead.

"We had some problems on special teams in the first half," Texada said. "We gave up a pair of touchdowns on special teams and had to make some corrections.

"The good thing is we were able to make those corrections and really limited their output in the second half. They didn't return a kick past the 15-yard line in the second half."

Lake Charles again whittled the Crude's lead down to three points on another touchdown rumble from Bynum, this time a 12-yard scramble with 11:50 left in the half.

The LandSharks took the lead on the first touchdown pass of the night when quarterback Brock Bailey hit Shadrick McAfee with a 12-yard strike to cap off a seven-play, 45-yard drive with 5:53 left in the third quarter. The touchdown gave Lake Charles its first lead of the game at 23-20.

In addition to upping the pressure on special teams, the LandSharks also turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, limiting the Crude to just one score and intercepting five passes — eight total on the night and two returned for touchdowns.

"They tried to start doing more and we were in the position to make plays," Texada said. "We were able to get pressure on the quarterback and make them have bad throws.

"Kendall Shello had some sacks for us and really forced their quarterback to make some bad throws that worked out in our favor."

The Crude continued to self-destruct as quarterback John Carnevali gave up an interception to Butch Monticello, who returned the ball 25 yards to the end zone to stretch the LandSharks' lead to 29-20.

Lake Charles got the ball back after backup quarterback Johnny Merrell was sacked and coughed up the ball at his own 10-yard line. Bailey hit Tony Citizen four plays later with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 left in the third for a 36-20 Lake Charles lead.

Two plays later, Carnevali threw an interception to Leroy Jackson, who returned the ball to his own 19-yard line.

The teams traded missed field goals before Bynum rumbled in from five yards out after a 45-yard kickoff return from Eric Young. Bynum's second touchdown of the game put the LandSharks on top 42-20 with 9:16 left to play.

The Crude finally managed an offensive touchdown as Merrell found wideout Adrian Perez with a 29-yarder on first down, but the Crude's fate had already been sealed. Lake Charles added the exclamation point with 1:10 left in the game when Darnell Lee picked off Merrell and returned the ball 35 yards for another touchdown. Lee had four of the LandSharks' five interceptions.

The Crude never got its offense going in the game.

Both Merrell, son of head coach John Merrell, and Carnevali were woeful under center. Merrell finished four of 11 for 64 yards while throwing five interceptions. Carnevali went 6 for 19 for 58 yards with three interceptions. The Crude managed only 122 yards through the air on 30 pass plays. Perez was once again the favored target, hauling in five catches for 78 yards. Van Dyke caught six passes for 29 yards.

Bailey finished the game seven of 29 for Lake Charles, picking up 56 yards with one interception.

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