Wildcats: 3 takeaways from Week 5
CARSON, Calif. -- Three takeways from the LA Wildcats' 41-34 win over the Tampa Bay Vipers at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday night:
1. Johnson overcomes early miscues
Coming into Week 5, quarterback Josh Johnson had played pretty sound football -- completing 62 percent of his passes, registering seven touchdowns against only one interception. Though Sunday's game started rough for the veteran QB -- throwing an interception on the Wildcats’ first play from scrimmage and losing a fumble off of an early scramble -- Johnson would eventually settle in and finish the first half with two touchdowns and 175 yards. He would maintain a hot hand in the second half and propel LA’s offense, tacking on two more touchdowns in the win.
2. WRs Smallwood, Blacknall deliver
With WR Nelson Spruce missing the last two games with a knee injury, WR Tre McBride, who has produced back-to-back 100 yard games, has been Josh Johnson’s go-to guy of late. Sunday, that honor was split between Jordan Smallwood and Saeed Blacknall, who combined for 164 receiving yards to help boost the Wildcats’ offense. When Johnson looked to go deep, both receivers came up big -- Smallwood hauled in a 54-yard pass and Blacknall had one for 48 yards. Both plays set up LA’s offense in the red zone and led to eventual scores in the Wildcats’ comeback during the second quarter, after being down 17-0.
3. Defense make plays late
Early offensive miscues had the Wildcats’ defense fighting deep in their own territory for most of the first half. LA couldn’t find an answer for Tampa Bay quarterback Taylor Cornelius and running backs De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick as the Vipers had leads of 17 and 18 in the second quarter. However, the Wildcats saw a momentum shift in the second half and controlled the Tampa offense. DT Reggie Howard came up big for LA in the fourth quarter with an interception. DB Jack Tocho sealed the victory for the Wildcats with an interception on Tampa's final drive of the game.