Las Vegas Arena Football

Las Vegas Outlaws rock LA KISS in Arena Football, 49-16

LA KISS wide receiver DeMarco Sampson celebrates after making a touchdown during a football game with the Las Vegas Outlaws and the LA KISS, at the Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS – Don’t try to convince Paul Stanley that the Las Vegas Outlaws and LA KISS are a rivalry. At least not yet.

The guitarist of the band known for face paint and long tongues (and now a co-owner of an Arena Football team) doesn’t like the idea of these two young AFL teams becoming rivals just because of each owner’s status.

“Everybody likes to find an angle, and I understand that,” Stanley said. “But it’s not the WWE. You’ll shoot yourself in the foot if you turn it into a freak show.”

It might not appear as a rivalry considering the KISS have yet to win a game this season. Now 0-6 after a 49-16 loss to the Outlaws on Monday, the first-year Las Vegas franchise swept the season series with two double-digit wins. The 16 points were a season-low for the KISS.

The meeting between the two teams will always get the hyped-up treatment because of who run the teams. Stanley and KISS frontman Gene Simmons are in their second year of owning the KISS, while Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil owns the 3-2 Outlaws.

It’s dubbed as the “Rock Star Rivalry,” and a trophy is given out to the winner – the Dollar Loan Center Rivalry Trophy – that looks like a melted clump of copper formed into a helmet.

Neil said he likes the trophy, so he’s going against the grain and calling this a rivalry, with all due respect to his rock ‘n’ roll counterparts.

“Isn’t it kind of a natural rivalry? I don’t see how they can’t (see it),” Neil said. “It’s a rock band, with another rock band, in the same vision at the same time. They don’t want to see it like that? They don’t have to.”

But what the legendary rockers can disagree when it comes to football, they can agree on what they like about Arena Football – it’s a fast-paced game with action happening every second.

Former rock stars turning into AFL owners isn’t a new trend Jon Bon Jovi owned the Philadelphia Soul from 2004-08.

With Simmons, Stanley and Neil owning their respective teams, the hope is that their names and appeal can bring excitement back to a league that’s struggled for the last decade, much like what Bon Jovi tried to do.

“We got involved with Arena Football because I think it’s a super exciting sport and it’s misunderstood,” Stanley said. “It takes going to a game … for peoples’ curiosity to be piqued.

“(The league) ate itself up. What we want to be is family entertainment. We don’t want you to mortgage your house in order to do it.”


 Former Wyoming quarterback leads Las Vegas Outlaws to first AFL victory

Former Wyoming and current Las Vegas Outlaw quarterback JJ Raterink

It was a long time coming for former University of Wyoming quarterback JJ Raterink. After botching the first expansion job in Los Angeles, the 33-year-old quarterback made up for it on Saturday night by leading the expansion Las Vegas Outlaws to a 70-56 upset win over the three-time defending Arena Bowl champions, the Arizona Rattlers.

AJ Cruz started the game with a long kick return that put the Rattlers in the red zone before the first play was even drawn. Quarterback Nick Davila wasted no time in putting Arizona on the board by throwing a quick touchdown pass to go up 7-0. Las Vegas quarterback J.J. Raterink felt the need to top Davila, so he kept the ball and ran it 12 yards for the touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

Cruz initially returned the kickoff for a touchdown, but it was called back for holding. Fullback Mykel Benson later took the load and ran 30 yards to put the Rattlers back on top 14-7. The Outlaws continued to keep pace with the Rattlers. Raterink drove down the field an punctuated their second touchdown drive of the night.

The Rattlers scored another lead-claiming touchdown but botched the extra point. Davila threw another touchdown shortly after, but that missed point ended up turning the tides later on in the game.

The two teams continued to trade blows but a failed field goal attempt by the Rattlers was return by Gerald Young for a touchdown to put the Outlaws up 35-34 in halftime. Arizona head coach Kevin Guy said just before the half that his team needs to be more physical and get after the quarterback more. He was displeased with his receivers getting pushed around throughout the first half.

That call to be more physical led to a more reckless defense and the penalties end up helping the Outlaws score a touchdown to make it 42-34 to start the second half. The Rattlers were down but not for long, as Cruz took the return all the way to the house to bring them back within a point.

The two teams kept pace the rest of the third quarter, but kicker missed another extra point, making it a 49-47 game going into the fourth quarter.

Deja vu hit the Rattlers hard all over again when a second failed field goal turns into an Outlaws touchdown by Young. Davila was later intercepted in the follow drive. After that, the downward snowball turned into an avalanche crashing over the Rattlers’ early bid towards a perfect season.

The Outlaws are growing fast in front of everyone’s eyes. They managed to parlay a strong finish to opening loss to the San Jose SaberCats into a shocking, yet blowout victory over the Goliaths of the AFL.

“We came together after Week 1 and we’re playing team football now,” Young said.


Las Vegas Outlaws stun defending Arena Bowl champion Arizona Rattlers in 70-53 win

Arena Football: LAS VEGAS (April 5, 2015) — The Las Vegas Outlaws (1-1) stunned the three-time defending ArenaBowl champion Arizona Rattlers (1-1), 70-53, to earn the first victory in franchise history Saturday night.

The Outlaws, who entered the game as 19-point underdogs, were buoyed by near-flawless play from quarterback J.J. Raterink, big plays from their veteran defense, and two hair-raising missed field goal returns for touchdowns by Gerald Young that sent the crowd at Thomas & Mack Center into a collective frenzy.

In the first-ever meeting between the new division rivals, Young proved to be the difference-maker. His scintillating gallop as time expired in the first half gave the feisty Outlaws their first lead of the game, 35-34, a lead they would never relinquish.

“[Coach Aaron Garcia] just said before the game, ‘To get to where we want to be … we’re going to have beat the top teams. So we have to beat them because they are where we want to be,'” said Outlaws quarterback J.J. Raterink, who finished the game with five touchdowns and 201 yards passing despite his most explosive playmaker, former Arizona wide receiver Tysson Poots, sitting out the game due to injury.

The Rattlers flexed their fangs early. AJ Cruz, who led the League with 22.5 yards per return last year, danced and darted for 37 yards on the game’s opening kickoff; three plays later, quarterback Nick Davila lobbed a 10-yard touchdown to 6-foot-7 target Markee White.

Mindful they could ill-afford a repeat of the lethargic start they had last week against San Jose, when the team trailed 42-13 at half-time, the Outlaws offense answered immediately. Raterink looked particularly sharp while marching his troops down field, punctuating the drive with an 11-yard scamper for the touchdown.

The Rattlers got on the board again when fullback Mykel Benson rumbled untouched for a 29-yard touchdown run. On the Outlaws next series, Raterink engineered a 45-yard drive that culminated with a ball he threw behind receiver LaDon Hudson, who nevertheless got his finger tips on the ball, bobbled it, and turned it into an eight-yard score. Outlaws defensive back Donovan Henley broke up a potential touchdown pass to Markee White on one play, but got juked later on the same drive when White raced 22 yards into the end zone. Rattlers kicker Jeremy Shelley missed the ensuing extra point, keeping the Rattlers lead at 20-14 with 51 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Down 13 against the League’s most potent offense following another Davila-to-White touchdown, Raterink surgically carved up the Rattlers defense on the next series. The University of Wyoming graduate hooked up with Jomo Wilson for a 20-yarder, then connected with Clint Solomon for 12 yards. A 12-yard touchdown pass to Wilson narrowed the gap to 27-21.

Arizona’s Benson rummaged for another 29-yard run midway through the second quarter and a Davila two-yard lob to Markee White stretched the margin to 34-21.

Gerald Young, a thorn in the Rattlers side throughout the contest, gave the Outlaws splendid field possession with a 23-yard kickoff return. Raterink threw a deep ball to LaDon Hudson that drew pass interference and put the Outlaws in business with an automatic first down. Raterink zipped a perfect 9-yard touchdown to Jomo Wilson that closed the gap to 34-28.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Rattlers tried to retake the lead with another failed 31-yard field goal attempt by rookie kicker Jeremy Shelley that again was returned for a touchdown by Young.

The Rattlers next possession ended with Davila throwing an interception to defensive back Dwight McLean. The Outlaws were able to drive down and score on an eight-yard pass from Raterink to Terrence Campbell.

Arizona was able to score once more with a touchdown pass from Davila to White, but with the failed 2 point conversion and with 2 minutes to go, the game was out of reach.

“Any time you open up a franchise that first win is always huge,” Raterink said. “So this win has a soft spot in my heart.”

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