Las Vegas Sun

February 27, 2024

football:

Locomotives clinch spot in UFL championship game

Las Vegas defeats California Redwoods, 16-10; will face Florida Tuskers in championship game

Before the season, Las Vegas Locomotives coach Jim Fassel told his team that the inaugural United Football League championship would go through Las Vegas.

Saturday night, Fassel’s words proved true.

The Locomotives defeated the California Redwoods, 16-10, at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif., to set up a date with the Florida Tuskers on Nov. 27 at Sam Boyd Stadium for the UFL’s first championship game.

“It’s very gratifying because we should be there playing in that game,” Fassel said on HDNet’s telecast of the game. “Our guys really fought hard today, and I’m proud of them.”

Trailing for the first three quarters, the Locomotives took the lead three minutes into the fourth quarter on a 4-yard touchdown pass from J.P. Losman to Andrae Thurman.

After being reviewed, the play was upheld and Las Vegas took a 13-10 lead.

On California’s ensuing drive, quarterback Shane Boyd marched the Redwoods down the field to the Las Vegas 3-yard-line, thanks in large part to two long completions to running back Cory Ross and wide receiver Glenn Holt.

The Redwoods handed the ball off to Ross, the league’s leading rusher, who lowered his shoulder and smashed into the end zone.

But the ball was dislodged by Locomotives defensive tackle Ross Kolodziej and squirted into the end zone, where it was recovered by Locomotives defensive back Nick Turnbull.

Las Vegas came back with Graham Gano’s third field goal of the game, extending the Locomotives lead to six with just more than two minutes to play.

On their final drive, the Redwoods moved down the field with a series of short passes, but on 4th down at the Locomotives’ 25-yard-line, Boyd’s pass deflected off of his intended receiver’s hands and into the hands of Turnbull for the interception.

“I have to take my hat off to Denny Green and his staff,” Fassel said. “In the first half, they got some breaks and in the second half, we got those breaks. It was a tough, hard-nosed football game.”

The game pitted two of the UFL’s most productive offensive players in Ross and Losman.

California’s Ross finished with 111 yards on 19 carries, scoring a 4-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 53-yard run earlier in the drive.

“We’ve been running that play all week,” Ross said. “Our offense executed well and it was all she wrote.”

Las Vegas’ Losman ended with 199 yards on 16-29 passing and a touchdown. He dislocated his left pinkie finger midway through the first quarter but remained in the game.

“This is what guys look forward to — to play in a game like this and get to the championship,” Locomotives linebacker Gary Stills said.

The Locomotives will host the New York Sentinels, who have yet to win a game, next week before facing Florida in the championship game a week later.

Florida defeated Las Vegas in both of their two meetings this season.

“It’s a lot better to be in the driver’s seat,” said Las Vegas running back DeDe Dorsey.

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