Pittsburgh Power: Power complete largest comeback in Arena Football history; Derek Cassidy, defense team up to get second win


by Zachary Weiss

The score was 41-17 in favor of the Orlando Predators at halftime, some of the Pittsburgh Power fans had left and no one thought that they had a chance to win the game.

Apparently that “no one” did not apply to the Power themselves, who dug in and went back to basics to complete the largest ever comeback in Arena Football history to defeat the Orlando Predators 57-54 in overtime and sweep the season series.

“We’re still a long way away from where we need to be, but at least we’ve shown some life,” Power Head Coach Chris Seigfried said. “1-4 would’ve been really devastating. It was kind of weighing on my mind all day today that we just can’t go 1-4. Halftime, you are staring 1-4 in the face and what some believe is an insurmountable deficit but this is arena football and we just kept plugging away.”

The first half epitomized the struggles the Power have had thus far in the season. The offense was not clicking and the defense appeared to be overmatched.

Andrico Hines was injured early in the second quarter when he was sacked for a six yard loss by Quinn Pitcock. Hines was overthrowing the ball on many of his passes and his rhythm was off as evidenced by completing only four of his nine passes.

His replacement Derek Cassidy also had a rough start of the game. Cassidy was in his second week with the Power and did not receive much work with the team in practice. His first completed pass was an interception by Eddie Moten which was returned for a touchdown to make the Power deficit 34-10. Cassidy would have four interceptions on the game.

The half ended on a low note for the Power as Cassidy was again intercepted by Travis Coleman and the power went down 41-17 at the half. At the time it appeared to add insult to injury and it seemed like the Power would be playing for pride in the second half.

Chris Seigfried did not see it that way though. Having been around the game for a while now, Seigfried knows that Arena Football is very fast paced and he still had confidence in his team.

“I was talking to Coach Sting [Defensive Coordinator Derek Stingley] and I said, ‘we’re down 24 points, that’s three possessions if we start going for two.’” Seigfried said.

Meanwhile in the Predators locker room, Head Coach Bret Munsey was understandably proud of the effort his team displayed in the first half.

“We played as well as we played all year on both sides of the ball,” Munsey said in an exclusive interview. “We made some changes offensively and they came out and played well. Defensively, we had a number of stops and turnovers in that first half and we were clicking on all cylinders.”

Defensive Back LaRico Stevenson also noted how the defense did not have a successful first half and how Stingley helped motivate them.

“DB wise it was a reality for us,” Stevenson said. “We gave up four easy touchdowns in the first half, we started off really slow and Coach Stingley gave us a reality check. After that, we looked ourselves in the mirror and told ourselves to barbeque a meal and we went out there and did our thing.”

The start of the second half began with the Predators scoring a touchdown and extending their lead to 48-17. Things appeared to look out of reach at that point as the lead extended to 31 points.

The Power then got a quick touchdown but the biggest play of the game may have come right after that.

“The first interception in the second half [Stevenson], that was the turning point really,” Seigfried said. “We were down, and that first interception really triggered something in our team and it was just a little ray of hope.

Despite another Cassidy interception on the next play, wide receiver Mike Washington [who also had two touchdowns] made a heads up play knocking the ball loose and P.J. Berry scored the touchdown cutting the lead to 48-32 at the end of the quarter.

The fourth quarter started with the Power defense holding steady and forcing a turnover on downs.

Munsey viewed this as the turning point, that moment when he knew that his team may be in trouble.

“Probably after the first three stops, they got on us on defense,” Munsey said in an exclusive interview. “They got within two scores there, 16 points. I knew it was going to come down to the wire. In 2008 when I was in Philadelphia, we were down 28 and were able to come back and win and it can be done, I stressed that in the locker room. We’ve just struggled for some reason coming out in the second half and finishing games and we’ve got to find a way to do that.”

Cassidy then led a drive which led to him running for a touchdown and making the score 48-38.

Chris Leflore’s two interceptions were huge in this game and his interception on the next Predator drive led to a Washington touchdown making in 48-44.

Sloppy play from both teams then took over, but Predators kicker Mark Lewis added a field goal to give his team a 51-44 lead.

The Power then got the ball and were willed on by the fans. With 49 seconds left, the Power put together a very quick drive and 17 seconds later, Hymes made a dramatic touchdown catch and rewarded the faithful crowd of 4,464 [a Power low]. Collin Wagner converted the extra point and tied the game.

The Predators were unable to score before the end of the quarter and the game went to overtime. The Power won the toss and the Predators got the ball first.

Despite the low turnout for this Power game, they were able to create the loudest noise of the season in cheering on their team. Stevenson appreciated the fans efforts and noted the impact they had in the game.

“When the crowds give us those chants, it’s definitely a big boost for us because we know we have our team and our fans behind us and it’s a big momentum push for us,” Stevenson said. “It just gave us that hunger to thrive more and do what we had to do to help our offense.”

The defense was able to hold the Predators to a field goal. Making the score 54-51 in favor of Orlando.

Berry has dazzled the past couple of weeks returning the football, and Berry knew that this kick return could determine the outcome of the game.

“I didn’t feel like the pressure was on me, but I put it on me. I wanted to end the game, it was time to step up,” Berry said. “That’s what they brought me here for; to be a playmaker.”

Lewis’s kick was returned by Berry, who may have been a block short of returning the kick for a touchdown. Still, Berry returned the ball 38 yards to the Predators 19 and

“That field position was huge,” Seigfried said. “If you look back at that Philadelphia game, we were in terrible field position the whole game, and they were in great field position and that’s huge in this game. You want to get the ball out past the 15 and he gives us that opportunity. When Orlando settled for that field goal, I knew a big return would be crucial to us winning that game.”

It took only one play for the game to end. Cassidy dropped back to pass and spotted Christian Wise in the end zone coming off a slant pattern and cutting to the right of the end zone. Cassidy released the ball, and Wise’s first catch with the Power was the game winner and history.

“I didn’t even go celebrate, I just threw my hands up there and celebrated and didn’t move,” Cassidy said. “He ran a great route and I missed P.J. on the same play earlier in the game but the entire night was just an unbelievable feeling. I’ve never been a part of anything like this and hopefully we just continue to build off of it.”

On the other side of the coin Munsey’s team had lost, remained winless and had not solved their second half issues.

“It was tough to swallow and enough to go back into the locker room and address the team,” Munsey said. “We all let each other down one way or another, and when you’re struggling like both teams were you wanted that game to get over the hump.”

The Power are now 2-3 on the season, and will visit the New Orleans Voodoo who also come into the game with a 2-3 record. Their quarterback is Kurt Rocco who leads the Voodoo’s offensive attack which is third in the league in passing. Thus far in the season, he has 1,614 passing yards to go with 30 touchdowns. The Voodoo rank 12th of 16 teams in pass defense, which could be the Power’s opportunity to do damage.

The game could be an emotional affair as Berry, Cassidy, Moqut Ruffins and three other players in addition to Stingley who was the Voodoo Head Coach last season have ties with the team.

Berry says though that this will not impact the game.

“If we lose it won’t be because it will because of an emotional letdown, but we won’t lose,” Berry said.

In his opening remarks, Seigfried made one remark which may sum up this game best for the Power.

“2-3 never felt so good,” Seigfried said.

Game notes: According to Seigfried, Power quarterback Andrico Hines most likely has a pulled groin which looks “pretty significant”. It will take a couple of days to figure out his status.

Wise got the start over Randy Hymes in today’s game. This may be Seigfried’s way of penalizing Hymes for his two drops which led to interceptions in last week’s loss to the Iowa Barnstormers. Hymes finished with five catches for 72 yards with two touchdowns while Wise’s catch was the game winning touchdown.

On the field for the coin toss was AFL legend Eddie Brown. Brown was voted the best player in Arena League history five years ago. Brown caught 949 balls for 303 touchdowns. “Eddie Brown was simply the best receiver to play Arena Football,” Iowa Barnstormers Head Coach Mike Hohensee, said to the Associated Press in 2006. One of his sons, Antonio Brown is currently excelling with the Pittsburgh Steelers and his younger son Desmond is with the Pittsburgh Panthers Football Team.

The next home game for the Power is against the Cleveland Gladiators. It is fan appreciation night and fans will receive cinch bags. Also the Pro Football Hall of Fame is scheduled to be at the game and have various artifacts and items. An autograph session is also supposed to take place, although it is unknown who will appear. The date of the game is April 28 and the time of the game is 7:30. Date and time could be subject to chance if the Penguins advance in the playoffs.

Cy Clark, also known as Malkamania was at the game and was shown on the jumbotron twice in an effort to fire up the Power fans.

The following are the official rules for an AFL overtime period:

“Overtime periods are 15 minutes for both the regular season and the playoffs. Each team gets one possession to score. If, after each team has had one possession, one team is ahead, that team wins. If the teams are tied after each has had a possession, the next team to score wins.”

FRZY performed two songs at halftime for the fans in attendance. He wore a Power #1 jersey and instead of it saying “Washington” on the back, it had his name on it.

Power vs Predators scoring summary 4/14/12

1st Quarter:

Predators: Sippio 15 yard pass from Roper (kick failed) 6-0 11:10

Power: Berry 45 yard pass from Hines (Wagner kick good) 7-6 9:58

Predators: Eley Jr. 17 yard pass from Roper (Lewis kick good) 13-7 6:26

Predators: Sippio 7 yard pass from Roper (Lewis kick good) 20-7 2:39

2nd Quarter:

Power: Wagner 22 yard field goal 13:09

Predators: Toliver 8 yard pass from Roper (Lewis kick good) 27-10 5:56

Predators: Moten 27 yard Interception return (Lewis kick good) 34-10 3:41

Power: Washington 11 yard pass from Cassidy (Wagner kick good) 34-17 0:21

Predators: Sipio 16 yard pass from Roper (Lewis kick good) 41-17 0:03

3rd Quarter:

Predators: Forse 10 yard pass from Roper (Lewis kick good) 48-17 8:43

Power: Hymes 24 yard pass from Cassidy (Wagner kick good) 48-24 5:56

Power: Berry fumble recovery in end zone (Hymes from Cassidy) 48-32 4:55

4th Quarter:

Power: Cassidy one yard run (conversion failed) 48-38 12:57

Power: Washington 19 yard pass from Cassidy (kick failed) 48-44 5:07

Predators: Lewis 23 yard field goal 51-44 0:53

Power: Hymes 23 yard pass from Cassidy (Wagner kick good) 51-51 0:37


Predators: Lewis 27 yard field goal 54-51 9:38

Power: Wise 19 yard pass from Cassidy 8:57

Time of game 3 hour 5 minutes

Offensive Player of the Game: Justin Roper [Predators QB] 24-46 245 yards 6 TD

Defensive Player of the Game: LaRico Stevenson 8 tackles, 1 interception

Ironman: Stevenson

Playmaker: Bobby Sippio [Predators WR] 7 catches 83 yards 3 TD

Catch of the Game: Eddie Moten interception returned for TD

Highlight of the Game: Stevenson INT

Game MVP: Roper

(Awards are voted on before the game is over.)

They said it:

Predators Head Coach Bret Munsey on wide receiver Bobby Sippio: “We knew that he could be a difference maker. He’s got great size and is a threat in this league and is a matchup problem.  I think we got what we wanted out of Bobby and we hope to get better with him and get him the football.”

Munsey on Power quarterback Derek Cassidy: “Quarterbacks in this league can get hot, and he understands the game, he’s played the game for a little bit and came in and did an outstanding job for them. We were still able to pick him off four times and got around him a lot with the rush. The good news for him is that he overcame those turnovers and pressure and made throws when they counted.”

Power Head Coach Chris Seigfried on Orlando’s second half strategy: “I think Orlando got conservative in the second half, which helped us.”

American Conference- East Division Standings

Philadelphia Soul 4-1 (2-1 conference)

Cleveland Gladiators 3-2 (2-2 conference)

Milwaukee Mustangs 2-2 (2-0 conference)

Pittsburgh Power 2-3 (2-2 conference)