Blackbirds keep it close for a half, but fall to Speed

Speed 48 Blackbirds 25

Pro football

April 01, 2007|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN REPORTER

Normally, a 23-point loss would not give much cause for celebration, but to the fledgling Blackbirds last night, it represented a modicum of progress.

Baltimore's American Indoor Football Association team took its first leads of the season, stayed in the game for a half and attracted an enthusiastic response from the home fans while absorbing its fourth defeat, 48-25, to the Carolina Speed at 1st Mariner Arena.

After losses by more than 50 points in its three road games, what happened was almost a balm. Although no official attendance figure was released, an estimated audience of 4,500 was into the game, especially early when the Blackbirds (0-4) seized leads of 13-10 and 19-18 before a 2-yard touchdown run by Carolina quarterback Aaron Leak put the Speed on top for good shortly before halftime.

"We have a great opportunity here," said Blackbirds coach Chris Simpson. "We need to try to do some things to take advantage of it. The fans are educated and enthusiastic and want to win, but they understand that we're building."

Troubles in the kicking game, some breakdowns in pass protection and some erroneous decisions at quarterback undermined the Blackbirds in the second half when Carolina (3-1) took complete control.

"In some areas we made some progress, but others we took a step back," Simpson said. "We have to eliminate mental mistakes and get more physical. Plus, we have good practice facilities but we don't have a place to kick field goals.

"We're struggling a little on the offensive line and at quarterback, we're holding the ball too long and not making good reads. And we're soft in the running game."

The final Blackbirds touchdown came with 55 seconds remaining in the game after Carolina had pitched a shutout for nearly all of the second half, largely because of pressure exerted on Baltimore quarterback Joe Urso.

Conversely, Carolina's Leak threw for five touchdowns on the 50-yard field.

"We've got talent and ability, but you can't teach toughness," Simpson said. "What it comes down to is we have to get that first win. Losing is a habit, just like winning. We've got to believe in ourselves."

The Blackbirds play at Canton on Friday. Their next home game is April 14 against Montgomery.

Carolina 10 14 11 13 - 48

Blackbirds 6 13 0 6 - 25

First quarter C-Fox 25 pass from Leak (Rienecker kick) B-Johnson 1 run (kick failed) C-Rienecker FG 37 Second quarter B-Harris 27 fumble return (Bloom kick) C-Tillery 11 pass from Leak (Rienecker kick) C-Rienecker (rouge) B-Dixon 35 pass from Urso (pass failed) C-Leak 2 run (pass failed) Third quarter C-Rienecker FG 42 C-Rienecker (rouge) C-Fox 31 pass from Leak (Rienecker kick) Fourth quarter C-Kimble 29 pass from Leak (Rienecker kick) C-Fox 48 pass from Leak (kick failed) B-McGee 16 pass from Urso (run failed)

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.