Mountain Lions give up lead for a loss in season opener

Mountain Lions give up lead for a loss in season opener

State Hornet Staff

The Sacramento Mountain Lions’ opening game at Raley Field on Friday was spoiled by one play.

After trailing the entire game, Omaha Nighthawks’ quarterback Jason Boltus threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Kenney with 2:16 left in the fourth quarter to defeat Sacramento, 24-20.

This is the fourth year in a row the franchise has started the season with a loss.

“To have a lead and get beat is disappointing,” said Mountain Lions head coach Turk Schonert. “It was self inflicted more than anything. We threw an interception and we had three missed snaps. Those are the things that shoot you in the foot.”

In the end, Sacramento gave up four turnovers, which included two fumbles and two interceptions.

Mountain Lions’ quarterback Josh Johnson gave Sacramento its first touchdown of the season when he threw an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Demetrius Williams in the first quarter.

Johnson showed he could not only be accurate through the air, but also move outside the pocket as he rushed for 28 yards on five carries.

He left the game midway through the first quarter after the touchdown pass to Williams because of a knee injury. Schonert said the extent of the injury is unknown, but Johnson will have an MRI done today.

“Having Johnson demobilized hurt us,” Schonert said. “His ability to get out of the pocket is a big part of his game, so it took a lot of our arsenal out.”

Johnson returned in the second half and threw his second touchdown pass to Williams on a 52-yard catch down the line.

Williams led everyone with 123 receiving yards in the first UFL game of his career.

“Johnson was out there making good throws and the line was holding (its) own,” Williams said. “It takes an entire team to make good plays.”

After Omaha scored on a 12-yard run by Boltus with 2:34 left in the third, the Nighthawks capitalized on a fumble at midfield, which led to 14 unanswered points.

Omaha head coach Bart Andrus said there might be a rivalry starting between the two teams.

“It is a great rivalry and I think things like that have some residual value from year to year,” Andrus said.

So far, the Nighthawks have a 3-2 edge in games against Sacramento and will play for a sixth time on Oct. 23.

“We will learn from this and get better,” Schonert said. “We have guys that can make plays out there and we are a good football team.”

Sacramento looks to get its first win of the season when it travels to Virginia Beach Wednesday night to take on the Virginia Destroyers. Kickoff will be at 4 p.m.

Ryan Kuhn can be reached at @rskuhn