Tennessee Valley Vipers Win af2 Championship

(SPOKANE, WASH.) - The Tennessee Valley Vipers gambled on a two-point conversion in overtime, and beating all odds in a stadium they had never played in against a 15-1 team they had never seen, with a quarterback who had thrown only four passes during the regular season, upset the Spokane Shock, 56-55, to win their first af2 Championship in their eight-season history.

Kelvin Dickens rallied Spokane to tie the game on a 13-yard TD catch from QB Nick Davila with one minute left, then caught a 23-yard TD pass on their opening possession of overtime.

But Tennessee Valley answered.

Leading the Vipers (14-6) to victory, backup quarterback Tony Colston, who was pressed into duty for normal starter Kevin Eakin after he was knocked out with an ankle injury on the very first drive of the game, hit Alonzo Nix with a 25-yard TD pass to pull the Vipers within one, 55-54.

After a timeout to think things over, Tennessee Valley Head Coach Dean Cokinos decided to go for a do-or-die two-point conversion to decide the game. His decision paid off.

Colston dropped back to pass, then pulled the ball down when he couldn't find an open receiver and decided to go for it himself.

After eluding a Spokane defender at the 2-yard line, Colston dove into the end zone for the game-winning two-point conversion to silence a sellout crowd of 10,653 at Spokane Arena.

Colston, who threw only four passes in two appearances during the regular season, threw seven touchdown passes on the night without an interception to earn Offensive Player of the Game honors. He finished with 20 completions on 30 attempts for 288 yards.

The Shock, which came in 15-1, got 14 catches for 163 yards and an ArenaCup record-tying four TDs from Raul Vijil. His 166 yards receiving set a new ArenaCup record.

The Vipers got 144 yards receiving and a record-tying four TDs from Gary Elliott. Elliott caught a 37-yard pass for a touchdown and a 48-41 lead with 6:01 left.

The Vipers defense was paced by DB Desmond Foster, who earned the Defensive Player of the Game honors with an ArenaCup record 13.5 total tackles. He also recorded the game's only interception of the night.

Spokane, which finished its third af2 season at 18-2 overall, was paced by rookie QB Davila. Davila set ArenaCup records for completions (35), passing yards (437) and touchdown passes (8).

Neither team had more than an 8-point lead at any time and both missed potential game-winning field goals in the final minute of regulation.