Fairbanks spoils Wild season opener

Bob Eley

The Fairbanks Grizzlies spoiled the debut of Alaska Wild head coach Darnell Lee and an overhauled roster with a one-point win Sunday night at Sullivan Arena.

The Grizzlies survived a late rash of penalties to post a 29-28 season-opening Indoor Football League victory against the scrappy Wild.

Trailing 6-0 after the first quarter, the Grizzlies scored 15 straight points in the second to take the lead for good.

The Wild closed the gap to 22-20 in the third quarter and to 29-28 with 1:30 left on the clock, but Fairbanks was able to run out the clock and secure its seventh straight regular- season victory against the Wild.

The hard-luck loss brings the Wild's winless streak to 18 games dating back to June 13, 2008.

Fairbanks quarterback Matt Bassoenor was in on all four Grizzlies touchdowns, as he rushed for one score and passed for three more to three different receivers.

Penalties hampered the Grizzlies on several occasions and helped the Wild pull within one in the final two minutes of the game.

After the Grizzlies scored on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Bassoenor to offensive lineman Baron Harrell, who had been inserted into the lineup as a wide receiver, to take a 29-20 lead, Fairbanks appeared to pin Alaska its own 10.

On a fourth-and-7 from their its 7-yard line, Alaska quarterback Donald Carrie appeared to be sacked in the end zone, but the Grizzlies received a face-masking penalty giving the Wild a first down. Two more personal foul penalties on the Grizzlies put the Wild in scoring position and Carrie scored his second rushing touchdown with 1:30 remaining.

On the two-point conversion attempt, Fairbanks' Tyron Taylor returned an interception to the end zone, but it was called back because of an encroachment penalty.

Carrie converted Alaska's ensuing two-point attempt to make the score 29-28. But the Wild couldn't get the ball again as Bassoenor scampered for a first down that allowed Fairbanks to run out the clock.

Trailing 6-0 after the Wild scored on the last play of the first quarter when Carrie completed an 8-yard pass to Daniel Rumley, the Grizzlies tied the game on a 4-yard touchdown scamper by Bassoenor.

The Grizzlies went ahead 9-6 on a 32-yard field goal by Carlos Ojeda and made it 15-6 at halftime when Bassoenor completed a 4-yard pass to Lonnie Sanders on the final play of the first half. That touchdown was set up by a long kick return from Johnell Brown.

Running back Kendrick Perry's 2-yard burst got the Wild back in the game at 15-12 with 9:35 left in the third.

The Grizzlies came right back and scored on a 13-yard pass from Bassoenor to running back Denny Kimmel.


By BOB ELEY
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner