Brooklyn Boro

Bolts bash Brawlers in opener

Brooklyn braves Boston and the rain in 27-20 triumph at MCU

October 17, 2014 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Bolts, our borough’s first pro football franchise since the Dodgers of the old AAFC, won their inaugural game at MCU Park on Wednesday night.
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Despite bursts of torrential rain, a sparse crowd of 1,319 and some technical glitches, both on the field and off it, the “X-periment” was a grand success at Coney Island’s MCU Park on Wednesday night.

The Brooklyn Bolts brought pro football back to our fair borough for the first time since the Brooklyn Dodgers of the old All-American Football Conference folded more than 60 years ago, doing so in impressive fashion with a 27-20 victory over the Boston Brawlers in their FXFL (Fall Experimental Football League) opener.

“When our ballpark opened in 2001, it marked the first time that there was a professional sports franchise in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left in 1957,” said Brooklyn Cyclones Vice President Steve Cohen, whose organization is fostering the growth of the new franchise along Surf Avenue.

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“It’s amazing to think that 14 years later we now have professional sports franchises in baseball, football and basketball (the Nets) with hockey (the Islanders) on the way,” he added. “That’s a testament to the pride and ownership that the people of Brooklyn feel for their neighborhood teams.”[[{“attributes”:{},”fields”:{}}]]

That pride was evident from pregame to final gun as the rain-drenched group of local diehards hungry for a gridiron gang to call its very own cheered ceaselessly for the black-and-yellow clad warriors with “BROOKLYN” emblazoned across their chests.

“I love the fans that were in the lower corner of that end zone,” said Bolts head coach and former NFL center John Bock after his team improved to 1-0. “They were as loud as they could be.”

“I think it’s unbelievable,” Bock added. “This is the first pro football win in Brooklyn since 1949!”

Quarterback Corey Robinson (Troy University) hit wide receiver Kevin Elliott with a pair of touchdown passes, including a 46-yarder that drew the biggest roar of the night, and former Auburn running back Mario Fannin delivered the first TD in Bolts history with a four-yard run late in the second quarter.

“It was sloppy at times, but I think this was a team win,” Bock insisted during his postgame press conference. “If I had enough game balls, I’d give them out to every one on the team.”[[{“fid”:”29053″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Bolts quarterback Corey Robinson, who spent some time in the Cleveland Browns organization, hit Kevin Elliott with a pair of scoring strikes in Wednesday night’s opener.”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Bolts quarterback Corey Robinson, who spent some time in the Cleveland Browns organization, hit Kevin Elliott with a pair of scoring strikes in Wednesday night’s opener.”},”type”:”media”,”attributes”:{“alt”:”Bolts quarterback Corey Robinson, who spent some time in the Cleveland Browns organization, hit Kevin Elliott with a pair of scoring strikes in Wednesday night’s opener.”,”title”:”Bolts quarterback Corey Robinson, who spent some time in the Cleveland Browns organization, hit Kevin Elliott with a pair of scoring strikes in Wednesday night’s opener.”,”height”:550,”width”:421,”style”:”float: right;”,”class”:”panopoly-image-original media-element file-default”},”link_text”:null}]]

Linebackers Korey Williams (Southern Mississippi) and Johnny Millard (Cal-Poly) helped plug up the middle as the Brooklyn defense kept former NFL signal-caller Tajh Boyd at bay for most of the second half after the Bolts entered the break trailing, 14-13.

“I’m really proud of my team,” Bock said. “The team hung together and found a way to win in the fourth quarter.”

Ex-Hofstra running back Kareem Huggins and Fannin helped run out the clock in the final period with a series of first-down gaining runs after Robinson and Elliott’s aerial show put the Bolts in front to stay.

“I was really impressed with Kareem, he hadn’t even had a practice yet,” Bock intimated. “And Mario Fannin had a hip pointer and he came in and made some really big runs in the fourth quarter.”

“Everybody came out and put their best foot forward,” added Huggins, whose only previous NFL experience was with the hometown Jets. “These are guys that are all trying to get to or get back to the NFL. The common goal is winning. Your teammates become your brothers on the field. We came together and did a great job tonight.”

Elliott, a speedy and sure-handed 6-foot-3 wideout out of Florida A&M, is hoping to turn this chance into a more lucrative payday – Bolts players currently receive $1,000 a week – in the not-too-distant future.

“This is a great opportunity for us to stay in shape. Hard work never goes unnoticed,” said Elliott, who previously played for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

The FXFL, which is a four-team league with a five-game Fall schedule, consists of players at least three years removed from university play, many of whom have had tryouts, and/or playing experience in the NFL.

League commissioner and founder Brian Woods, who is hoping to eventually get the NFL on board with officially using the FXFL as a full-fledged minor league, was on hand for the wet and wild festivities in Brooklyn Wednesday night.

“With the increasing number of underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft each year and signs of change looming within the NCAA landscape, the case for a developmental league is overwhelming,” Woods said.

“I think the current sentiment among professional football executives and college administrators is that a developmental football league is absolutely needed,” he added. “The FXFL can fill this void.”[[{“attributes”:{},”fields”:{}}]]

Some of the differences between FXFL and NFL football include: Kickoffs from the 25-yard line rather than the 35, Extra-points from the 17-yard line rather than the 2, and all field-goal attempts are taken from outside the hash marks.

Also, the FXFL doesn’t have players on its rosters for them to sit and gather moss on the bench.

Bock made sure to use virtually every body that was suited up and healthy enough to take the gridiron Wednesday night.[[{“fid”:”29054″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Former Auburn running back Mario Fannin’s second-quarter TD run was the first score in franchise history for the Bolts.”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Former Auburn running back Mario Fannin’s second-quarter TD run was the first score in franchise history for the Bolts.”},”type”:”media”,”attributes”:{“alt”:”Former Auburn running back Mario Fannin’s second-quarter TD run was the first score in franchise history for the Bolts.”,”title”:”Former Auburn running back Mario Fannin’s second-quarter TD run was the first score in franchise history for the Bolts.”,”height”:419,”width”:550,”class”:”panopoly-image-original media-element file-default”},”link_text”:null}]]

“If you’re not going to give players an opportunity to develop, then you’re not really a developmental league,” he reminded everyone.

The Bolts will return to action Oct. 24 for a Friday night home encounter against visiting Omaha.

Brooklyn will also host the Blacktips (a traveling team without a home city) on Nov. 7 while playing on the road at Boston (Oct. 31) and Omaha (Nov. 12).

Bolts Notes: There were a few issues with the referee’s field microphone and the music during the contest. But for the most part, the Bolts/Cyclones did an admirable job of giving fans a pro football experience, with local cheerleaders present to encourage the crowd and the scoreboard providing replays and live game action. … Bock, who spent some time with the Jets during his six-year pro playing career, learned from the likes of NFL coaches Marv Levy, Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt and Jon Gruden. He also spent some time playing in Canada before the NFL came calling, giving him a keen insight into what the FXFL players are experiencing as they hope for another shot at the big time.


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