EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Guardians traveled back to MetLife Stadium after losing both of their games on the road trip. In a game that came down to the wire, the Guardians come out on top 17-14 over the Los Angeles Wildcats. The Guardians came into the Week 4 matchup, without starting Quarterback Matt McGloin, who was sidelined with an apparent rib injury. Backup signal caller Luis Perez stepped in to the starting role and was able to make plays throughout the game when the team needed him. The Guardians offense, which struggled over the last few weeks, controlled the game through a balanced attack.
Perez helps Guardians offense get back on track
A fresh face at quarterback, Luis Perez led the offense with precise accurate passes all game. Perez threw for 150 yards and a touchdown, completing 18 of 26 passes. Perez began the game by leading the Guardians on a 10-play, 37-yard drive that ended in clean 51-yard field goal by Matt McCrane, this put the Guardians on the board first 3-0.
Early in the second quarter, a 12-play, 60-yard Guardians drive resulted in another field goal by McCrane, tying the game 6-6.
Just before the half, Perez delivered a 3-yard back shoulder jump ball to Guardians receiver Mekale Mckay for a touchdown, capping a drive in which he spread the ball around to receivers Colby Pearson, Jake Powell, and EJ Bibbs.
A successful two-point attempt gave third-string Guardians quarterback Marquise Williams some exposure as he ran a draw up the middle to put the Guardians up 14-6 going into halftime.
In the second half, a stout running attack led by back Darius Victor, along with a few key stops on defense, sealed the victory for New York. With 8:32 left in the third quarter, Wildcats kicker Nick Novak lined up for a 48-yard field that was blocked by Guardians defensive end Jarrell Owens. A huge play from Owens, preventing a field goal that would ultimately be the difference in the outcome of the game.
On the ensuing Wildcats possession, quarterback Josh Johnson completed a 42-yard bullet to wide-out Saeed Blacknall for a touchdown, and a 2-point conversion to Jordan Smallwood to tie the game 14-14.
On the subsequent possession, Johnson and the Wildcats offense drove just past midfield into Guardians territory before Guardians cornerback Jamar Summers came up with a critical interception who outplayed Wildcats receiver Levonte Whitfield downfield for the ball. Summers’s interception resulted in a short drive by the Guardian’s offense to set up the game-winning, 47-yard field goal by McCrane with 10:57 left in the fourth quarter.
After having his first field goal attempt blocked a quarter earlier, Nick Novak missed a 44-yard field goal wide left; a miss that otherwise would’ve kept the Wildcats in the game. The Guardians secured the game by handing the ball off to Darius Victor throughout the whole fourth quarter, letting the clock bleed off. Victor put on an impressive performance, rushing for 82 yards on 18 carries. With under a minute to go, punter Justin Vogel pinned the Wildcats on their eight-yard line. The Guardians defense held the Wildcats on their side of the 50 until time expired.
Wildcats come up short
The Wildcats had an overall, uneven performance in this loss to New York, 17-14. They started the game slowly offensively and could not find much separation until the final seconds of the first quarter and then not again until the end of the third. Tre McBride caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to gain the lead before the second.
They struggled to run the ball as last week’s offensive maverick, running back Martez Carter, was a late addition to the inactive list. Then, the offense fell stagnant again while Luis Perez led the Guardians an eight-point lead before halftime. The Wildcats’ offense eventually woke up in the late third quarter when Johnson drove them down into Guardians territory with his quick out routes. He set himself up to throw a perfect deep ball to Saeed Blacknall, getting his first catch and touchdown. Nick Novak struggled with field goals, missing two in the second half, which would’ve given the Wildcats a mid-fourth quarter advantage. The Wildcats offensive line struggled to give Johnson time in the pocket all game, leading to the interception Jamar Summers at a critical point in the game. They proceeded to fail a fourth-down conversion and allow New York to take time off the clock and hold on to a slim lead, beating Los Angeles in a low scoring, 17-14 victory.
The Wildcats’ next game is Sunday, March 8th when they will meet the worst performing team in the East Division, the Tampa Bay Vipers, at 9:00PM EDT on ESPN.
The Guardians will travel to Dallas to take on the Renegades Saturday, March 7th at 5:00PM EST on FOX.