ROSEMONT, ILL., JULY 10 -- The Washington Commandos lost two leads, then couldn't capitalize after getting several breaks as the Chicago Bruisers beat them, 37-36, for their first Arena Football League victory.
The crowd of 8,653 rose to its feet and stayed there after Nick Mike-Mayer drilled a 35-yard field goal to put Chicago ahead for good by one point with 45 seconds left. Both teams are now 1-3 and tied for last place in the four-team league.
Washington's final drive in the last minute went nowhere when three passes to Lenny Taylor and one to Dwayne Dixon failed, leaving Chicago with the ball and only seconds left.
Chicago's final scoring drive accelerated when a 17-yard penalty put Chicago on Washington's 15-yard line, a call against Nathan Creer for tackling Durwood Roquemore before Roquemore was even near a pass thrown to him. After two touchdown attempts were near-misses, Mike-Mayer kicked the winning field goal.
"Chicago is a better team than they were a week or two ago," said Commandos Coach Bob Harrison. "They made some major changes and have improved."
Mike-Mayer's field goal ended a crazy fourth quarter, when the lead changed three times.
The Commandos got a safety early in the fourth quarter, when Chicago quarterback Mike Hold's pass was deflected, and the ball went to Eddie Phillips of the Bruisers. Phillips was in the end zone and was already surrounded by Commandos. Washington took the next possession and drove to the Chicago nine, where Steve Griffin was hit in the corner to make the score 34-31.
Although Dale Castro missed the extra point, Washington got within one when Hold was sacked in the end zone for another safety.
With 2:42 left in the game, Washington had a touchdown pass to Dixon called back because of offensive interference. The Commandos had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Castro, but that was enough to put them back in the lead, 36-34, with 2:22 left. The missed conversion, however, came back to haunt Washington.
The Commandos went into the second half trailing, 24-23, and lost the ball quickly when Brett Wilson fumbled and Stephen Finch came up with it. After Chicago failed to move the ball, Mike-Mayer made a 47-yard field goal, extending the Bruisers' lead to 27-23.
Washington then drove to the 1-yard line, but quarterback Rich Ingold fumbled on the Commandos' second touchdown try.
The Bruisers' Hold squeezed by pass rushes on two key plays during the next drive. He ran to midfield from the nine-yard line after scrambling out of trouble, and did the same from the Washington 10, crossing the goal line to make it 34-23. The 11-point lead lasted into the fourth quarter.
For the first time this season, Chicago went out of the first half with the lead. The 24-23 edge came thanks to an interception by defensive back Finch, who ran the pass from Ingold untouched for 33 yards to score.
Chicago started the game with an early lead, getting a 35-yard field goal over the 40-foot-high nets from Mike-Mayer, a former NFL kicker.
Washington actually went backward five yards on its first drive, but came back on its next one with several short passes to set up a four-yard touchdown run by Brett Wilson. Castro missed the extra point, and it was 6-3.
Washington scored again early in the second quarter, when Chicago running back William Stone fumbled twice, and the Commandos promptly took the ball in each time. The first time, Taylor took a 25-yard touchdown pass up the middle to make it 13-3 and, after Stone's second fumble, Taylor caught a 13-yard pass to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Ingold that made it 19-3.
Chicago scored its first touchdown when Hold hit Roquemore for a 34-yard touchdown pass that made it 20-10.
Castro hit his first field goal with 7:28 left in the first half, a 30-yard shot to make it 23-10.
Finch almost single-handedly made it 23-17 when he took three passes for almost the entire length of the field. The touchdown came on a 23-yard pass to the outside, Finch sprinting 13 yards to the goal line.
The Bruisers went ahead, 24-23, with 1:40 left in the half, after Finch intercepted a pass from Ingold and ran it 36 yards for the touchdown.
Castro tried a 41-yard field goal on the Commandos' final drive of the first half, but the ball bounced off the bar.
Washington 6 17 0 13 36 Chicago 3 21 10 3 37 Washington Chicago First downs 22 11 Rushes-yards 10-22 9-37
C -- FG Mike-Mayer 35
W -- Wilson-1 run (kick failed)
W -- Taylor 25 pass from Ingold (Castro kick)
W -- Ingold 1 run (Castro kick)
C -- Roquemore 34 pass (Mike-Mayer kick)
W -- FG Castro 30
C -- Finch 23 pass from Hold (Mike-Mayer kick)
C -- Finch 36 interception return (Mike-Mayer kick)
C -- FG Mike-Mayer 37
C -- Hold 10 run (Mike-Mayer kick)
W -- Safety, Witteck tackled Phillips in end zone
W -- Griffin 9 pass from Ingold (kick failed)
W -- Safety, Walls tackled Hold in end zone
W -- FG Castro 31
C -- FG Mike-Mayer 35
A -- 8,653 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING -- Washington: Wilson 7-21, Ingold 3-1. Chicago: Hold 4-28, Stone 4-5, Phillips 1-4.
PASSING -- Washington: Ingold 30-49, 283 yards. Chicago: Hold 13-20, 132.
RECEIVING -- Washington: Dixon 12-90, Taylor 10-123, Griffin 7-57, Motes 1-13. Chicago: Roquemore 6-72, Fin