Command Fall Short Against Talons, 41-31

The Kansas City Command got another standout defensive effort, including two interceptions from Riddell Defensive Player of the Game Sergio Gilliam, but could not hold on to a fourth quarter lead and fell to the San Antonio Talons 41-31 Saturday night at Sprint Center. The loss is the Command’s seventh in a row to start the 2012 season while San Antonio got a second straight victory for the first time this year and improved to 5-3.

“It keeps coming back to the offense,” Coach Danton Barto said after the game. “We’re just not scoring enough points. Our defense is playing championship-level football. We can’t ask for anything more from them.”

The Command had the ball and a 31-27 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter but failed to score in the final period, missing a field goal, losing a fumble and turning the ball over on downs on three drives. San Antonio turned the 4-point deficit into a 10-point lead with two touchdowns just over a minute apart late in the game.

Quarterback Matt Gutierrez threw for 230 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions but did lose two costly fumbles. Armand Robinson and Marcus Barnett each made their Command debuts tonight and led the KC receiving attack. Robinson finished with eight catches for 96 yards and a score. Barnett had five grabs for 89 yards and a TD.

“We did some things better on offense,” Barto said. “There are some explosive guys in our receiving corps now. Barnett is going to be a very good football player. He had two days to learn our system so he’s going to only get better. We’ve just got to find a way to get Matt more comfortable. At times he looks great and other times he looks like a rookie.”

The Command got a spark from the return game as Shay Hodge averaged 24 yards on six kick returns, including a long of 39 that set up a first-half field goal.

“Shay was dynamic off the net,” Barto said. “Our whole kick return unit did a great job tonight.”

“The atmosphere was great,” Hodge said of playing in front of a season-high 6,342 at Sprint Center. “I just came out doing my best on kick returns to try and help the team win.”

Gilliam had two interceptions in a game for the second time this year, repeating the feat from San Jose two weeks ago.

“They beat me a little earlier,” Gilliam said. “But in this type of game you have to have a short memory. I got another chance to make a play to help my defense. I saw the ball in the air and I was at the right place at the right time twice tonight.”

Garcia threw for 231 yards and five touchdowns. Jomo Wilson, just back from injured reserve, was Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game after catching 10 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns.

The Command got a defensive stop on the opening possession of the game but failed to take advantage as the offense struggled out of the gates. The Talons built a 21-3, but KC rallied for the final two TDs of the half to draw within 21-17 at the break. The Command made it 21 straight points, the team’s longest scoring streak of the season, on a Shay Hodge TD catch early in the third quarter.

KC had two scoring drives in the second half, both of which covered 45 yards or more. The offense fell out of rhythm, though, in the fourth quarter, allowing the Talons to capture the come-from-behind win.

The Command will next play Saturday, May 12 at 7pm on the road against the Iowa Barnstormers. The game will air live on Sports Radio 810 WHB and on the web at The Barnstormers are 3-4 and play tomorrow afternoon against Chicago.

Click here for final game stats

Pictured: Sergio Gilliam celebrates with Tommy Chavis after a Gilliam interception.  Photo by Mark Lundy, Kansas City Command

Attendance: 6,342
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Jomo Wilson, San Antonio Talons
National Guard MVP: Matt Gutierrez, Kansas City Command
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Sergio Gilliam, Kansas City Command
AFL Playmaker of the Game: Sergio Gilliam, Kansas City Command
JLS Ironman of the Game: Shay Hodge, Kansas City Command
Cutters Catch of the Game: Marcus Barnett, Kansas City Command (2nd quarter grab for first career AFL TD)
Spalding Highlight of the Game: Armand Robinson, Kansas City Command (catch and fumble, recovered by KC for a touchdown 5:28 3rd Quarter)

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