LOUISVILLE — One yard was all the Lexington Horsemen needed to keep the ball, probably run out the clock and slip past the Louisville Fire.
But the Fire’s Bernard Jackson got to Horseman quarterback Eddie Eviston and forced a fumble which was recovered by teammate Jerome Jones, giving the Fire 40 seconds to win the game.
That’s a lifetime in arenafootball2, and Fire quarterback Matt Bassuener found Tymere Zimmerman in the back of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left.
The Fire emerged with a 54-50 victory in a burgeoning rivalry in af2 between the Kentucky teams Monday night in Freedom Hall.
The one yard Lexington needed was a positive gain that would keep the clock running under af2 rules. If Eviston had retained possession, the Horsemen would have faced fourth down, but likely could have run out the clock.
Lexington, overwhelming losers in the first two games, fought back in the second half behind Eviston’s sterling play, taking a 50-40 lead with 2:47 left.
Louisville’s Lonnel Dewalt found himself open for a 45-yard scoring pass from Bassuener with 1:40 left to get within 3 points.
Lexington might have run out the clock if Eviston hadn’t fumbled.
Louisville took over on its 20 and moved to the Horsemen 7 in three plays. Zimmerman then scored the winning touchdown.
The Horsemen tried one more rally from their 18, but two incompletions and an interception ended the game. “One yard away,” said Lexington Coach Mike Harmon with a sigh. “It’s one of those things. You can’t explain it. You just have to live with it.”
Winning coach Tommy Johnson said, “With a minute on the clock in arena ball, it’s like two to three minutes (in other football leagues).”
“We got the turnover, and the offense did a good job coming back and scoring.”
Zimmerman said, “We had to find a way. I’ve been on the other side, and we wanted to be on top.”
The teams are now even with 7-5 records in the Midwest Division. They have four games left in the regular season.
The game was close from the start. The lead changed hands four times in the second quarter, thanks to a bizarre play on the last snap.
The Horsemen’s Doug Daniel attempted a 42-yard field goal with two seconds left. The snap was bobbled, and Daniel’s hurried kick was wide left, hitting the net.
The Fire’s Matt Forbes grabbed it, shot up the right sideline into the clear, then cut across the field for a 53-yard return and a 26-21 lead over the stunned visitors.
Before that, the visitors had relied on the passing of Eviston and the receiving of Chad Spencer. Spencer had seven receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
Louisville was led by newcomer Danny Southwick, playing his first game at quarterback. He was 12-for-17 for 145 yards and three touchdowns. But he injured his sternum and didn’t see much action in the second half.
Bassuener, a reserve, threw four touchdown passes to lead the winners. Zimmerman had 10 catches for 81 yards.
Eviston was 22-for-36 for 285 yards and seven touchdowns. Spencer had 10 catches for 132 yards and three touchdowns.
Louisville Fire 54, Lexington Horsemen 50Lexington 7 14 15 14—50
Louisville 13 13 6 22—54
First quarter: Lex—John Cooper 21 pass from Eddie Eviston (Douglas Daniel kick), 6:26. Lou—Tymere Zimmerman 25 pass from Danny Southwick (kick failed), 4:41. Lou—Ricardo Lenhart 22 pass from Southwick (Danny Kight kick), 0:18. Second quarter: Lex—Chad Spencer 10 pass from Eviston (Daniel kick), 13:42. Lou—Lonnell Dewalt 29 pass from Southwick (Kight kick), 11:03. Lex—Spencer 4 pass from Eviston (Daniel kick), 5:24. Lou—Matt Forbes 53 missed FG return (kick failed), 0:00. Third quarter: Lou—Dewalt 18 pass from Matt Bassuener (kick failed), 11:52. Lex—Spencer 7 pass from Eviston (Spencer pass from Eviston), 7:52. Lex—Cooper 19 pass from Eviston (Daniel kick), 2:41. Fourth quarter: Lex—Ryan Mitch 2 pass from Eviston (Daniel kick), 10:45. Lou—Bassuener 3 run (Bassuener run), 6:18. Lex—Tavon McGee 11 pass from Eviston (Daniel kick), 1:40. Lou—Zimmerman 7 pass from Bassuener (Kight kick), 0:16.
First downs 22 18
Rushes-yards 8-46 10-17
Passing 275 242
Kickoff returns 4-65 3-53
Interceptions-ret. 0-0 2-6
Comp-att-int. 22-36-2 22-33-0
Fumbles lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-yds. 9-63 6-77
Time of possession 28:09 31:51
RUSHING—Lexington, Eviston 4-25, Martin 3-17, Brown 1-4. Louisville, Forney 6-11, Bassuener 2-7, Kyles 2-(-1).
PASSING—Lexington, Eviston 22-36-2-285. Louisville, Southwick 13-21-0-151, Bassuener 9-12-0-116.
RECEIVING—Lexington, Spencer 10-132, McGee 6-55, Mitch 3-51, Cooper 3-47. Louisville, Zimmerman 10-81, Lenhart 7-87, Dewalt 5-99.