In their first trip to visit the new expansion team LA KISS, the San Jose SaberCats rocked their opponents on both sides of the ball, coming away with a 48-32 victory.
The win — the Cats’ second in a row — kept San Jose from dipping back under the .500 mark for the second time this season, advancing their record to 4-3.
Quarterback Russ Michna completed 26-of-40 passes for 249 yards and six touchdowns, with veteran Rod Harper pulling in four of those after stepping up big in the absence of wide receiver Reggie Gray.
After a sloppy first half last week against the Portland Thunder — in which the Sabercats registered no points and three turnovers in the first quarter — San Jose was able to put together a solid drive to open the game and get on the board early.
Without Gray, who leads the AFL in touchdown catches, quarterback Russ Michna was forced to find a new target in red zone situations.
It didn’t take long for Rod Harper to make a case for himself, as he hauled in a three-yard pass from Michna on the SaberCats opening drive. It would be his first of four touchdowns on the night.
Harper would finish the night with nine receptions for 67 yards.
The LA KISS came out strong as well, with quarterback JJ Raterink completing five of seven passes for 47-yards in a drive that ended with Joe Mortensen rushing into the end zone for a 1-yard run.
KISS Kicker Kenny Spencer sent the ball wide of the posts, missing the chance to tie it up. After Spencer’s miss — the first of three consecutive botches by the kicker — the SaberCats would never trail again.
After scoring just 12 points last week against the Iowa Barnstormers, the KISS offense was able to outscore that total before the end of the half, closing the second with 18 points. Three, remember, were lost to shanked kicks.
But the KISS, who boast the second worst offense in the league averaging 38.0 points per game, couldn’t match the SaberCats’ firepower, who scored on five consecutive possessions to start the game.
Wide receiver Doug Williams hauled in his first touch down pass of the game, and Rod Harper collected two more, including a season-highlight leaping catch over the back-wall of the end zone to put San Jose up 27-18 heading to halftime.
While the first half was all offense between the two teams, defensive back Clevan Thomas recorded the game’s first turnover to open the third period as he picked a pass from Raterink near the KISS goal line.
Michna would make the KISS pay for the turnover as Harper made yet another athletic play on a 16-yard diving catch going across the middle of the end zone, expanding the SaberCats lead to a comfortable margin.
The fourth quarter followed the defensive nature of the third, with the SaberCats causing two more turnovers. The first came on a pass that deflected off the hands of Parker, bouncing off a yard-marker and into the hands of Simeon Castille.
A consecutive pair of turnovers on downs by each team returned the ball to the hands of the SaberCats, where Michna went three for three, completing the drive with a 19-yard screen pass to 6-foot-3, 315-pound offensive lineman, Rich Ranglin for the touchdown that would effectively put a nail in the KISS coffin.
Raterink would answer with a two-play drive of his own to put the score at 48-32, but it was too little, too late as San Jose ran the clock out on the following drive.
The SaberCats will ride their two-game winning streak back home, where they will take on Orlando Predators next Saturday.