Call it bizarre. Call it a gimmick. Call it a fad.
There's a lot of ways to knock the newfangled game of Arena Football, but few people at Capital Centre last night were doing so.
The announced crowd of 13,507 appeared to be too busy making noise as the Washington Commandos cruised to a 36-20 victory over the Denver Dynamite.
Last night's was the second of six games for the Commandos, one of four teams in the new indoor football league. The Commandos lost their debut, 48-46, to the Pittsburgh Gladiators June 19.
Capital Centre became loud almost right off the bat, as Washington took a 14-0 lead before four minutes were gone. Quarterback Richard Ingold completed 17 of 28 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Kicker Dale Castro, formerly of the University of Maryland, added three field goals through the 9-foot-wide goalposts, one from 50 yards.
The new league is grasping for attention, and the surprising draw was no doubt welcomed.
"What we really hoped would happen, happened tonight," said league president and founder Jim Foster, who flew in from Chicago for the game. "There was also great enthusiam. You have a problem if they don't come out or if they come out and just sit. But they didn't do that."
"I don't think anybody expected 13,000," said Ingold. "There isn't anything better than playing in your home stadium and with your fans backing you 100 percent."
But it was Ingold who led the way, completing a variety of passes in his first start replacing Mike Calhoun. Ingold split time with Calhoun in the Commandos' first game, but under him the Commandos have been more productive.
"As the coaches say, when you get in there, you've got to make the best of it," said Ingold, 24, who was voted the game's outstanding player. "Hopefully, the coaches were impressed."
Ingold's favorite target was wide receiver Lenny Taylor, who caught seven passes for 115 yards, including a 35-yard crossing pattern in the second quarter that set up Washington's third touchdown.
"Our big game plan with me was a combination route, where I could go one way or another," Taylor said. "I was getting off the line well and the quarterback was putting the ball on the money."
The Commandos started fast, getting a 10-yard touchdown reception from Richard DuPree with only two minutes gone, and a two-yard touchdown catch from Walter Holman that was set up by Mike Witteck's fumble recovery on the 2-yard line. Taylor's catches in the second quarter made it 24-7 going into the second half.
Meanwhile, Denver scored only one touchdown in the first half, when they made it 14-7 on a freak play. Laszlo Mike-Mayer's field-goal attempt bounced off the net and was fumbled by Washington's Kendall Walls on the rebound. Denver's Keith Smith then picked the ball up for seven points.
Denver starting quarterback Stuart Mitchell, known for his scrambling ability, was ineffective and was replaced on the last series of the second quarter by Marty Mornhinweg. Commandos Coach Bob Harrison credited his offensive line for stopping Mitchell.
"We had to put pressure on Stuart Mitchell, so he wouldn't have a chance to read the field," he said. "We had to put somebody in his face in order to make him throw quicker."
Mitchell returned to the game in the third quarter after Mornhinweg injured his knee on Denver's last drive of the second half.
Mitchell hit Steve Trimble, formerly of Maryland and the NFL Denver Broncos and USFL Denver Gold, for a 44-yard touchdown pass in the first drive of the second half, and later sneaked in on another. Denver 7 0 13 0 20 Washington 17 7 6 6 36
W -- DuPree 10 pass for Ingold (Castro kick)
W -- Holman 2 pass from Ingold (Castro kick)
D -- Smith fumble recovery in end zone (Mike-Mayer kick)
W -- FG 50 Castro
W -- Taylor 8 pass from Ingold (Castro kick)
D -- Trimble 44 pass from Mitchell (Mike-Mayer kick)
W -- Holman 11 run (kick failed)
D -- Mitchell 8 run (kick failed)
W -- FG 27 Castro
W -- FG 31 Castro
A -- 13,507
Dynamite Commandos First downs 7 12 Rushes-yards 13-40 14-34 Passing yards 104 166 Return yards 85 16 Passing 11-31-0 17-28-0 Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-1 Penalties-yards 1-8 4-15 Time of possession 29:07 30:
RUSHING -- Denver: Brewer 4-16, Mitchell 6-11, Mornhinweg 1-9, Prather 1-7, Trimble 1-minus 3. Washington:
PASSING -- Denver: Mitchell 8-27-0, 113 yards, Mornhinweg 3-4-0, 30. Washington: Ingold 17-28-0, 195.
RECEIVING -- Denver: Trimble 5-102, Brewer 4-25, Mullen 2-16. Washington: Taylor 7-115, Dixon 5-31, DuPree