Amarillo Venom grab last minute victory

Sports Story. Art by Chris Brockman.

Sports Story. Art by Chris Brockman.

In their return home from a two game road stretch, the Venom snatched a victory from the maw of defeat in the closing minutes by defeating the Laredo Rattlesnakes 62-58 at the Amarillo Civic Center on April 20. In the comeback win, Amarillo continues to hold command of the Lone Star Football League with a tiebreaker over league rival Abilene.

“We started off a little slow, and they did everything that we thought they were going to do,” Venom coach Julian Reese said. “They were a well coached team. We challenged our guys. In the game of football, you have to play together. You can’t play separate and you can’t do your own thing. It’s like a pyramid, if you take one piece off, it’s going to fall.”

Falling behind early due to the potent passing attack by Laredo quarterback Bryan Randall, the Venom failed to convert possessions into points behind starting quarterback Justin Johnson. This prompted the Venom to turn to backup quarterback Kevin Lauchland to keep the Venom within reach. However, the Rattlesnakes maintained a 34-24 lead going into the half. Once both squads returned to the field, Laredo kept a steady balance as the Venom trailed by as many as 17 points late in the third quarter.

“I was only as good as everyone else was around me,” Lauchland said, who was 13-19 and passed for four touchdowns while rushing for three. “I just got the ball in my playmaker’s hands and I was never touched. This was one of more exciting games in my football career and I have played a lot of football.”

In the fourth game the Venom defense slowly tightened its grip on Randall and his Laredo receiving corps. This defensive stand forced the Rattlesnakes to muster only three points during the final stretch, as Lauchland scampered into the end zone on two occasions to cut the Laredo lead down to three with only 14 seconds remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, Amarillo receiver Raymond Johnson broke free to place the Venom at the Laredo one yard line, causing the Venom faithful at the Amarillo Civic Center to erupt. The next play would prove to be the game winner as Lauchland handed the ball off to receiver Doug Williams, as Williams sprinted left into the end zone for the go-ahead score.

“I love pressure,” Johnson said, who helped the Venom with his late kickoff return. “I have ice water in my veins. I don’t think about stuff, I just try to score.”

With the victory, Amarillo improves to a 3-1 tally in the Lone Star Football League as Laredo tumbles to .500 with a 2-2 record in the LSFL. The Venom will also welcome back star quarterback Nate Davis, who returned to the team after coming to terms on his release with the San Antonio Talons of the Arena Football League. Amarillo will proceed to take the upcoming weekend off, only to come back to the Amarillo Civic Center on May 4 as they host the Abilene Bombers in a battle for LSFL supremacy at 7 p.m.