Las Vegas continues to be the Achilles’ heel of the Omaha Nighthawks.
Omaha has lost 10 games in its three seasons of United Football League play. Six of the defeats have come against the Locomotives, including Wednesday’s 38-23 setback in front of 2,234 at TD Ameritrade Park.
The loss dropped the Nighthawks to 2-2, with both losses coming to Las Vegas (4-0). The Locomotives hammered Omaha 41-6 when the teams met in Las Vegas on Oct. 3.
“They’re a good football team, and that doesn’t mean we’re a bad football team,” Omaha coach Bart Andrus said. “We’re just not there yet. We got closer to them tonight if you look at the two scores.
“We stepped up and got closer, although that doesn’t make it any better. It doesn’t make it feel any better but we do have another shot.”
That is scheduled to come Oct. 31 when Omaha plays in Las Vegas. Planning that far ahead in the financially rocky UFL, though, might be asking a little too much at this point.
Players on the league’s four teams have yet to be paid. Neither Omaha nor Las Vegas practiced in the days leading up to Wednesday’s game. Perhaps the most positive development in the cash-starved league was that the referee had a coin to flip prior to Wednesday’s kickoff.
The lack of practice time appeared to impact both defenses, but it seemed to hamper Omaha’s younger roster more than the veteran Locomotives. The two offenses combined for 847 yards and 47 first downs, abnormally high numbers for a professional game.
Las Vegas finished with 439 yards, getting standout efforts from quarterback Chase Clement and running back DeDe Dorsey. Clement threw completed 13 of 23 passes — he was 11 of 13 in a dominant first half — for 258 yards. Dorsey rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns.
“I didn’t try to put too much into the game plan,” Las Vegas coach Jim Fassel said. “We have a lot more plays than I called. It was a lot of repeat business.
“These guys have been running these plays for five weeks. We should be able to execute it, and I’ve always believed it’s about execution. You can have a lot of plays and not execute them very well. Today, we executed pretty good.”
Especially in the first half, when the Locomotives built a 35-16 lead. Dorsey scored on runs of 18, 1 and 22 yards. Clement threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Titus Ryan and his 29-yard completion to Samie Parker opened a 69-yard drive that ended with Nic Grigsby’s 1-yard run.
Omaha got a big play from Marcus Harris, who caught a pass over the middle from Jason Boltus and turned it into a 73-yard touchdown for a 7-7 tie with 9:05 left in the first quarter.
The touchdowns by Grigsby and Ryan staked Las Vegas to a 21-7 lead before the end of the quarter. Brandon Coutu kicked three field goals for Omaha in the second quarter — the longest a 52-yarder — but Omaha’s defense couldn’t keep Dorsey out of the end zone.
His 22-yard scoring run put the Locomotives ahead 35-13 with 3:50 left in the first half. Coutu got the Nighthawks within 19 points at halftime, and Omaha inched closer to 35-23 when Boltus threw 7 yards to Preston Brown for a score with 2:13 left in the third quarter.
Las Vegas counted with a 53-yard return by Aaron Woods that set up Clint Stitser’s 22-yard field goal. Woods returned six kickoffs for 223 yards.
“Our kickoff return team was lacking tonight,” Andrus said. “They had a lot of short fields to work with.”
Omaha’s chances of mounting a fourth-quarter comeback ended when its first three possessions ended with a punt and two interceptions.
“Offensively, we moved the ball but we kicked too many field goals,” Andrus said. “We did a lot of good things but just not enough of them.”
Las Vegas (4-0).................................21 14 0 3—38
At Omaha (2-2).................................7 9 7 0—23
LV: DeDe Dorsey 18 run (Clint Stitser kick)
O: Marcus Harris 73 pass from Jason Boltus (Brandon Coutu kick)
LV: Nic Grigsby 1 run (Stitser kick)
LV: Titus Ryan 63 pass from Chase Clement (Stitser kick)
O: Coutu 49 FG
LV: Dorsey 1 run (Stitser kick)
O: Coutu 52 FG
LV: Dorsey 22 run (Stitser kick)
O: Coutu 40 FG
O: Preston Brown 7 pass from Boltus (Coutu kick)
LV: Stitser 22 FG
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