Santa Ana Star Center was packed for what was to be just the second Indoor Football Game for the New Mexico Stars, although it’s safe to say the bulk of the fans wasn’t there just to see Rio Rancho’s newest professional team.
The anticipation was there for former NFL star Terrell Owens and, although Owens fell short of his three-TD outing in the Wranglers’ opener, fans got to see him make a highlight-film type catch.
Owens, wearing his familiar No. 81, made a one-handed catch of the first pass thrown in the second half to give the Wranglers (3-0) the lead, and they never looked back, posting a convincing 45-28 victory.
The Stars (1-1) had led at halftime, but T.O.’s left-handed grab, coupled with another third-period score by the Wranglers, with the Stars unable to put a point on the board in the quarter, fell 17 points short of their guests.
After being intercepted on his first pass of the day, Stars QB Arkelon Hall led four first-half scoring drives, including one that ended on his 13-yard sprint to paydirt.
His second and final TD pass of the game, a 4-yarder to Tim Bush late in the second quarter, helped the Stars grab a 22-17 lead at halftime.
The Wranglers, getting a good start in the third period on Owens’ TD, out-scored the Stars 28-6 in the second half.
Owens had much of the hype surrounding him all week leading up to the game as this was his first game on the road. He finished with five catches for 50 yards and the TD.
Although there were a lot of people wearing jerseys with Owens’ 81 on the back, the loudest cheer of the day erupted when Owens was knocked over the boards by Stars defenders after making his second catch. And it seemed the loudest boos of the game came right after Owens’ TD, when a Stars player was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — the first penalty of the game.
During the Stars first possession of the second half, center Kelvin Drake had to be taken off the field on a gurney, although he made sure to flash thumbs up both hands as an EMS crew led him to an ambulance. Stars owner and General Manager Dart Clark said, before the game was over, that he understood it was an ACL injury, which could mean the end of Drake’s season. Drake played on the offensive line at North Texas State.
The Stars struggled in the kicking game, missing two field goal attempts, an extra point, and having one field goal attempt blocked.
The Stars’ next game is at the Wichita Wild (0-3) on March 31. Their next home game is on April 6 at 7:05 p.m. against the Tri-Cities Fever.