In a game the Chargers opted to sit the vast majority of their starters, the Bolts won 12-9 over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Chargers won the toss and opted to defer, bringing the defense up first. Rookie Logan Thomas started the game at quarterback for the Cardinals with a six-play drive that Jason Verrett ended with a crushing hit on third down. The play limited the damage to a 42-yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal just under three minutes into the game to give Arizona a 3-0 lead. Kellen Clemens and the offense took over, and on the first snap the quarterback connected with Dontrelle Inman for a 21-yard gain to midfield. Three plays later on 3rd-and-9, John Phillips hauled in a pass just a yard shy of the sticks. Head Coach Mike McCoy opted to go for it, and Clemens hit Seyi Ajirotutu over the middle and the wide receiver made a number of nifty moves for a 27-yard gain to the 18-yard line. An illegal hands to the face call on Willie Smith made it 2nd-and-19, and the Chargers had to eventually settle for a 35-yard field goal to tie the game. On defense, Jerry Attaochu got strong pressure along with Chas Alecxih, who sacked Thomas at Arizona’s three-yard line for a 12-yard loss. It led to an eventual punt, but the Chargers went three-and-out and Mike Scifres booted the ball back to the visitors. Tourek Williams continued his strong start to the game with a big third-down stop. With the ball at midfield, Clemens hit Phillips for his fourth catch of the game, this one good for 21-yards to the 23-yard line to end the first quarter.
On 3rd-and-9, Clemens looked for Tevin Reese in the end zone but the ball fell incomplete. Novak trotted onto the field and booted a 39-yarder to give San Diego a 6-3 lead 10 seconds into the second quarter. John Pagano’s defense forced yet another three-and-out, but a booming punt and a penalty backed the offense up at their own eight-yard line. On third down, Clemens threw a perfect dime that Javontee Herndon made an equally impressive adjustment on for a 22-yard gain. Marion Grice immediately followed with a 13-gain gain, and two plays later made a number of sharp cuts for a first down to the Arizona 37-yard line. A hold on David Johnson made it 1st-and-20, and the Chargers were only able to pick up 10 yards, bringing Nick Novak out for a 55-yard attempt that he crushed for a 9-3 lead. The Cardinals crept into San Diego territory, but Cordarro Law blasted around the edge for a monster strip-sack that Tenny Palepoi recovered at the Arizona 47-yard line. Penalties prevented the Chargers from sustaining a drive, and another great Scifres punt backed up the Cardinals to their seven-yard line. After forcing another punt, the Chargers took over at their own 33-yard line. Inman hauled in a first down approaching midfield as we hit the two-minute warning. On 3rd-and-2, Grice burst up the gut for a 10 yard gain, and then Clemens escaped pressure and darted 17-yards to the 19-yard line. A Tevin Reese catch and another strong run by Grice made it 1st-and-goal from the seven. Eventually they faced a 4th-and-goal from the two yards line with just two seconds remaining and opted to go for it. Unfortunately, Clemens was picked off by Jimmy Legree in the end zone. Inman’s hustle prevented a pick-six, but he was called for a horse collar tackle so the Cardinals got one extra play. They made the most of it by hitting a 38-yard field goal to make it 9-6 at the half.
Up-man Torrence Allen grabbed a short kickoff, but he fumbled as he approached the 20-yard line and Arizona recovered. Alden Darby and Greg Ducre paired up for a bone-rattling hit on third down to hold the Cardinals to a field goal, tying the game 9-9. Brad Sorensen relieved Clemens but the offense went three-and-out. However, Thomas Keiser forced the Cardinals to do the same with a strip-sack as Arizona recovered the fumble before booting back to the Bolts. Branden Oliver powered across midfield with a series of strong runs, but the drive stalled at the 19-yard line. Nick Novak put San Diego back ahead 12-9 with a 37 yard field goal. The defense continued it’s strong play by forcing yet another three-and-out, giving the Chargers the ball at their own 24 as the third quarter came to a close.
Inman had another big catch, this one on 3rd-and-3 for 20 yards into Arizona territory. However, Sorensen was sacked on third down forcing Scifres to unleash a punt that went for a touchback. Thomas threw an incomplete pass on the Cards' first down attempt. Zach Bauman rushed left for a gain of one then on third down, Thomas found wide receiver Walt Powell for a gain for 14-yards and a first down. The Chargers' defense held their own for the next three plays and forced the Cardinals to punt. Sorensen's third-down pass was batted down by linebacker Glenn Carson and Scifres punted leading to the Cardinals taking over on their own 32-yard line. On first down, running back Jalen Parmele ran into a wall of Chargers linemen for no gain. Thomas had back to back incomplete passes downfield and once again, the Cardinals punt unit came on field. Branden Oliver took the handoff from Sorensen and with a stiff-arm, took the ball up the left sideline for 24-yards and a Chargers first down. A false start penalty on David Johnson backed the Bolts up to their 36. On 1st-and-15, Oliver took another handoff to the right for a gain of five but only gained one yard on the Bolts' second down attempt. On 3rd-and-10, Sorensen's pass was nearly intercepted but luckily, fell incomplete. Scifres' punt went high and was downed at the Arizona 23-yard line. Giving the game some life, Chargers' safety Alden Darby intercepted Thomas' third down pass and ran it back 26-yards to the Cardinals' 17-yard line. Grice was back in for the Bolts and rushed up the middle for a gain of three on the Bolts' 1st-and-10 from the Arizona 17. On 2nd-and-7, Grice carried himself as well as a number of Arizona defenders to move the chains to the AZ six-yard line. The Chargers ran out the clock in victory formation to clinch the 12-9 win.
On a 3rd-and-10 with less than three minutes remaining in the game, safety Alden Darby cut in front of Cardinals receiver Dan Buckner to intercept a pass from Logan Thomas. Darby subsequently ran the interception back 26-yards to the Arizona 17-yard line.
It was Over When…
On 2nd-and-7 off the interception, running back Marion Grice forcefully carried a number of Cardinals defenders to acquire a new set of downs for the Bolts at the Arizona six-yard line. The Chargers then took a knee to clinch the victory.
Play of the Game
Linebacker Cordarro Law burst around the edge for a huge strip-sack on quarterback Logan Thomas. Defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi recovered Thomas’ fumble at the Arizona 47-yard line.
Stat of the Game
The Chargers defense held the Cardinals to just 98 total yards for the game.
“It’s just like a normal game. You have a limited number of players on game day and some guys have to step up. When you move personnel groups in and out, you move guys around. Some guys had to play different spots they may not have had a lot of work on, but we’re trying to find the best 53.” – Head Coach Mike McCoy
“We ran just our basic offense. I think it’s going to give us a good look at what (the Cardinals) do on defense. Hopefully we can learn from this week and be ready to go.” – Quarterback Brad Sorensen
“I’m ready for the regular season. (Preseason) did go by pretty quickly, but I’m excited to see (the Cardinals) again on Monday night in prime time T.V. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.” – Guard Chris Watt
Odds and Ends
The Chargers outgained the Cardinals 347-yards to 98. The Bolts had 167-yards rushing and 180-yards through the air.
Running backs Marion Grice and Branden Oliver had nearly identical stats for the game. Grice had 17 rushes for 79 yards while Oliver had 16 attempts for 71 yards.
Cornerback Greg Ducre and newly signed defensive end Joe Kruger led the team with four tackles each.
Leading the team through the air, tight end John Phillips had a game-high four receptions for 37-yards with his longest at 21-yards.
Rookie guard Chris Watt started at center.