By Tonya Swim
Amarillo, Texas-The Amarillo Venom wasted no time putting numbers on the board against the Texas Power Saturday night at the Cal Farley Coliseum.
The Venom received the ball first from Power kicker Micheal Small. Raymond Johnson Jr. took the ball out the the Venom 19 where Nate Davis and company started with their first possession.
Davis immediately found Venom newcomer Terrell Smith in the endzone for a touchdown just 53 seconds in the game. Conner Hollabaugh came out to kick the point after, but it was blocked. A flag on Power Arthur Jones gave Hollabaugh a chance to redeem and the Venom were on the board with a 7-0 start.
Hollabaugh's kick hopped into the stands so the Power got their first start on their own 10 yard line.
Power Quarterback Eric Herrera saw the first snap go over his head into the endzone where the Venom recovered. Hollabaugh got the PAT and the Venom go up 14-0.
Hollabaugh's kick again went into the stands giving another touchback and the Power try again with the ball on their own 5.
Herrera tried a pass but it fell short, then a handoff to Keith Miller, but Miller was stonewalled by Dren Johnson and Jeff Branch. Herrera kept the ball but D. Johnson again was there with a stop putting the ball on the Power 21. The next play was deja vu when Herrera again saw the snap go over his head into the endzone to again be recovered by Branch. Hollabaugh finished off the score with an extra point and the Venom move to 21-0 11:28 in the first quarter.
Cedrick Crowell for the Power took the ball at kickoff to the Venom 24 where Venom newcomer Richard Mitchell and R. Johnson Jr. put an end to his run.
Power offense came out, Herrera tried failingly a flipout toss, then like the movie Groundhog day, Herrera again saw the snap fly over his head into the endzone but the Power recovers only giving the Venom 2 for the Safety. Venom 23 Power 0.
R. Johnson Jr. grabbed the kickoff and ran it out to the Venom 12 then in just the second possession of the game for the Venom, Davis finds Alex Watson Sr in the endzone. with a 38 yard pass! Touchdown Venom. Hollabaugh found the uprights increasing the score at 9:19 in the first 30-0.
Crowell ended up with the kickoff and took it out to the Power 21.
Herrera found Desmond Comfort with a pass for a for a three yard gain, stopped led by Steven Fluker. Herrera fumbles the next snap, but recovers for a one yard loss. Herrera passes to Devante Harrison for a two yard gain stopped by Cashmin Thomas. With a series of plays, Herrera handed off to Comfort the a one yard gain, then a keeper where he met Desmond Railford for no gain.
Another incomplete pass brought up fourth and nine then his next attempt was knocked down by Fluker while flags flew. Flag was on the defense but the retry failed and the ball was turned over on downs at the Venom 10.
The third possession for the Venom, Davis found R. Johnson Jr. with a 30 yard pass into the endzone, TOUCHDOWN. Hollabaugh missed the Xpt. Venom 36 Power 0.
The ball again finds itself skipping into the stands for a touchback. The Power take possession at their own five yard line.
Herrera had an incomplete pass then calls his third (and final timeout) with 2:55 left in the first quarter.
A pass to Harrison brought the ball down to the Venom three, but two handoffs to Comfort was stopped by Railford, one for no gain and one for a loss of one bringing up the third and four at the end of the first quarter.
Herrera started the second quarter trying to find Harrison with a pass, but Terrious Triplett got his hands on the ball bringing up fourth and four.
A toss to Comfort was stopped for a loss of three by Fluker and the Venom took over on downs on their own nine.
Fourth Venom possession had Davis passing to Venom newcomer Ricardo Johnson TOUCHDOWN. 13:13 in the second, xpt good FLAG-on Power Jacques Lewis and at 12:52 left in the half, Venom 43 Power 0.
Power start off with another touchback getting the ball at midfield.
Miller ran for a gain of three, another gain of three then just a gain of one due to Mitchell and Thomas stopping the ball on the Venom 18. Next play saw Herrera sacked by Branch for a seven yard loss, then a snap fumbled and recovered put the ball on the Venom 20. Two incomplete passes with finish out the Power possession and the Venom take over on downs on their own 20.
Davis tossed to Jer'yl Christian for no gain, then in a comedy of errors, Davis saw a bad snap roll into the endzone and recovered by Power Marcques Barnes for a touchdown. The two point conversion was no good and the Power is on the board. Venom 43 Power 6.
Small kicked off towards R. Johnson Jr. who took the ball down for a 50 yard kickoff return touchdown! Xpt was good and with 5:20 left in the half, Venom 50 Power 6.
Crowell took the ball for the Power placing the ball on the Venom 13, but after three plays, the pass was picked off by Triplett who was stopped at the Power 21 with 1:53 left in the half.
Venom quarterback Arealus Lee Jr. came out for his first play of the season, and not being warmed up, fumbles the snap. One minute warning. Lee handed off to Christian bringing up first and ten on the Power 9, then an illegal defense penalty was declined. Lee passes to Jordan DeCorte in the endzone for a touchdown. Hollabaugh finishes, 36.5 seconds left in the half, Venom 57 Power 6.
Miller grabbed the next kickoff and rushed down to the Venom 5 but the Power couldn't convert and the Half ended seeing the Venom up 57-6.
The second half, the Power got the ball first, and Harrison brought it down to the Venom 21.
Herrera used Miller to gain first two yards, then seven before using keepers to gain three but then met Louvan Green losing two. An incomplete pass and a pass to Harrison for a touchdown. Another try at a two point conversion was thwarted by Railford, at 10:40 in the third the Venom were up 57-12.
Smalls' kickoff was taken by Thomas who ran for a 35 yard return starting the Venom on the Power 15.
Lee handed off to Christian for a gain of two then again for two before a toss to Thomas that put the ball on the Power 6. A flag on DeCourt pushed the Venom back to the Power 18, but Lee found Smith in the endzone for a touchdown. The Venom tried a two point conversion when Hollabaugh took a pass from Lee then tried to pass into the endzone, but it was incomplete. 8:13 in the 3rd Venom 63 Power 12.
The next kickoff saw the Power gain 10 extra yards due to a dead ball foul on R. Johnson Jr. being assessed.
Beginning on the Venom 10, Herrera put the all in the endzone for a touchdown, but again failed to convert for the 2 points. 6:46 left in the third, Venom 63 Power 18.
R. Johnson Jr. again took the kickoff and running 52 yards returned it for a touchdown. The extra point added, the Venom went up 70-18 6:03 in the third.
Hollabaugh's next kick was fielded into the endzone, giving the Power the ball on their own 5 yard line.
Herrera used a handoffs to move the ball up to the eight, but a false start moved them back to the two. Next play saw a one yard gain but a Herrera was sacked for a loss of one. Herrera's pass found Harrison, who picked up the first down and brought the Power to their own 19. A handoff to Comfort lost two yards and a pass to Harrison was stopped by Triplett on the Power 21. His next pass was incomplete, but a roughing the passer took the ball up to the Venom 14. Ending the third quarter.
The next four minutes saw the Power gain, then with flags on the Venom, gain up to the Venom six before a handoff to Miller resulted in a touchdown. The two point conversion was good and with 10:35 left in the game, Venom 70 Power 26.
Watson took the next kick off and ran 24 yards. A dead ball foul pushed the ball further up to the Power 14.
Lee handed the ball off to Christian twice for a total gain of 21 yards, but a false start pushed them back before another hand off got them up to the one yard line. A keeper from Lee added six more to the board. Hollabaugh added the one putting the Venom up 77 Power 25 with 7:36 left in the game.
Hollabaugh's kick again gave the Power a touchback and they started midfield.
Herrera used passes to get up to the Venom 18, then a false start put them back on the 23. A quick pass over the middle to Justin Holden put them on the 14 but a stop by D. Johnson for a loss backed them up one. Two more incomplete passes kept them at a standstill then Smith picked off a pass and the Venom took over at their own 15 with 1:05 left in the game.
After the one minute warning, the Venom let the clock run out thrusting them into a 7-2 season with a 77-25 win over the Power.
Most will never see their team play a travel team, so I asked Alex Watson Sr., other than the obvious difference in the level of play against a seasoned team, what he thought about the Power. "Gotta tip your cap to those guys. They never quit." he said.
The first quarter seeing such remarkable plays, both good and bad depending on who you were rooting for, what was the buzz on the Venom bench? "We really just wanted to come out and execute in all phases of the game, so to see our preparation pay off was very gratifying for us, had us all pretty hyped." stated Watson.
The next game for the Venom is against the Duke City Gladiators in Albuquerque on May 26.
Photo courtesy of Jason Helmick Alex Watson Sr makes the play