Aug. 28, 2002
SAN JOSE, Calif. - When the San Jose SaberCats won their first-ever Arena Football League title recently the Santa Clara University ties were hard to miss.
SCU graduate Terry Malley, the first front office employee ever hired by the SaberCats organization, recently completed his eighth season with the team and seventh as the franchise's General Manager. He also finished his third full season as the team's offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
Malley was the Broncos' head coach from 1985-1992 after taking the reigns from his legendary father, Pat, who served as the Broncos' mentor for the previous 26 seasons. He is a 1976 graduate of Santa Clara and lettered at quarterback for three seasons for the Broncos.
Another strong Santa Clara tie, SaberCats team majority owner John Fry was a member of the Bronco men's rowing and football teams and graduated from SCU in 1978.
This season, the SaberCats went 16-1 and won the ArenaBowl title with a 52-14 defeat of the Arizona Rattlers on August 20 at the Compaq Center at San Jose before 16,945 fans.
Under Malley's offensive guidance, the 38-point win was the largest in ArenaBowl history, while the 52 points scored by the SaberCats are the sixth most in championship-game history. San Jose finished the 2002 season by scoring 50-or-more points in all 17 games they played this season, while the 16 wins are the most-ever in an AFL season. Arizona, who won AFL titles in 1994 and 1997, suffered their first ArenaBowl loss in team history.
San Jose QB John Dutton earned game MVP honors as he threw for 236 yards and five TDs while completing 20-of-26 passes (76.9%). The five TD passes by Dutton tie him with Jay Gruden for the third most thrown in a championship game (ArenaBowl record is seven, shared by Mike Pawlawski and Clint Dolezel).
WR/DB Omarr Smith earned Ironman of the Game honors after recording 5.0 tackles (all solo), one interception and a defensive fumble recovery, while also adding four receptions for 34 yards and nine rushing yards on two attempts. OS James Hundon caught eight passes for 97 yards and three scores for the winners. Veteran WR/DB Barry Wagner moved into a tie for second place in ArenaBowl history for career rushing TDs with three after scoring on a two-yard run in the second quarter.
The SaberCats scored the only points in the opening quarter as Dutton found Hundon on a 28-yard scoring strike three plays after Arizona kicker Kyle Pooler misfired on a 37-yard field goal attempt.
2002 Rookie and Defensive Player of the year, stripped Kelly of the ball and recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.
San Jose took a 24-point lead into halftime, the largest halftime lead in ArenaBowl history, after scoring 17 second-quarter points. Dutton and Hundon connected on a two-yard scoring pass, kicker Daron Alcorn converted a 31-yard field goal, and Wagner added his rushing score, his sixth ArenaBowl touchdown overall.
Dutton finished the half by completing 12-of-16 passes for 148 yards and two scores. Hundon led all receivers with four receptions for 78 yards and two TDs. For Arizona, Bonner, who was picked off once and sacked another time, connected on only eight of his 20 attempts for 72 yards. Arizona received some sobering news early in the second quarter as they learned veteran lineman Stacy Evans was lost for the game after tearing his right ACL on the last play of the first quarter. The Rattlers also lost lineman Sebastian Barrie in the second half to a meniscus tear in his knee.
This was only the second time in ArenaBowl history a team has been shut out in the first half (the Pittsburgh Gladiators were held scoreless by the Denver Dynamite in ArenaBowl I in 1987). In addition, this was the first time in Arizona's 11-year history where they have been shut out in any half.
San Jose continued their offensive prowess in the third quarter as they tacked on two more touchdowns, 12-yard and 32-yard scoring receptions by James Roe and Jerry Reese, respectively. Arizona joined Pittsburgh as the only teams in league championship history to be held scoreless through the first three quarters.
Hundon tacked on his third score of the game a little over three minutes later to push San Jose over the 50-point mark, but Kelly capped the scoring with his three-yard scoring run.