The final minute of the first half helped to explain the New Orleans VooDoo’s 70-42 loss Saturday night to the Cleveland Gladiators.
With 49 seconds left, VooDoo defensive back Rayshaun Kizer tipped a Shane Austin pass in the end zone, which was intercepted by teammate Tracy Belton.
Five plays later, VooDoo quarterback Adam Kennedy was sacked and fumbled and Cleveland recovered, leading to one of Austin’s seven touchdown passes, a play which not only ended New Orleans’ chance at tying the score at halftime but increased its deficit to 42-28.
The VooDoo (1-1) entered its second game of the 2015 season hoping to start a season at 2-0 for the first time since its inaugural season of 2004, but exited the Smoothie King Center knowing it has a long way to go to become one of the best in the Arena Football League.
Cleveland (2-0) already is.
“It’s a learning experience for us,” said first-year coach Dean Cokinos, whose VooDoo upset Jacksonville last week. “We ran into a really good football team tonight, and we’ll learn from it.”
On offense, several dropped balls curtailed momentum, while on defense the VooDoo proved unable to slow down Austin, who finished with 272 passing yards on 21 for 31 passing with one interception. He also ran for one score. Dominik Goodman was his top target, finishing with eight catches for 99 yards and five scores.
The VooDoo secondary, improved with All-Arena players Kizer (Philadelphia in 2014) and Belton (Orlando in 2014), appear to need time to learn the new system.
“I’ve only been here a week,” Kizer said. “Although we’re All-Arena players, it’s going to take awhile fit us to get a feel for each other, to learn (defensive coordinator) Cosmo (Dematteo) on defense. Give it about two or three weeks. We’ll start dominating.”
Former VoDoo defensive lineman Mike Alston, now with Cleveland, finished with 1 1/2 sacks and three tackles.
Kennedy completed 18 of 29 passes for 243 yards and three TDs. He also threw one interception and was sacked five times.
“I think the game kind of got away from us at the end,” he said. “We did some good things early. We just made too many mistakes in the long run.”
Minutes before the VooDoo’s forgettable final minute of the second quarter, its bench was sparked by Larry Beavers’ 58-yard kickoff for a TD, tying the longest in franchise history.
Marcus Smith led the VooDoo in receiving with eight catches for 131 yards for two scores.