Tennessee Valley—Arkansas: Vipers Right the Shipp

Chris YowAnalyst IApril 21, 2009

Larry Shipp's first time on an arena football field is what most football players dream about. Starting for the first time this season in the place of Bradly Chavez at wide receiver, Shipp hauled in his first career touchdown pass from 40 yards out on the Vipers' first possession of the second half.

However, it was his final catch of the night that sent a dagger through the hearts of Arkansas faithful at Alltell Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Shipp brought the cheers of the Twisters faithful down to a silent hush when he hauled in a nine yard touchdown from Kevin Eakin as time expired to tie the game at 60 and Nick Hayes nailed the extra point to earn Tennessee Valley a 61-60 win over the previously unbeaten Twisters.

Eakin capped off a stellar performance that put him in the Vipers' record book with the touchdown toss to Shipp. His nine touchdown passes are the most by any Vipers' quarterback in franchise history.

Tennessee Valley improved their record to 2-2, while Arkansas fell to 3-1.
Saturday night's game was what Jim Foster envisioned when he dreamed up this game on that famous manilla envelope.

Both teams traded scores from beginning to end, sans one missed field goal by Hayes and one turnover on downs by the Twisters.

Tennessee Valley received the opening kick off, but the missed field goal allowed Arkansas to take an early lead.

A little trickery kept the back and forth scoring alive when Chris Bocage took a hook and ladder pitch from Michael Johnson and found the end zone on the final play of the first half to give the Vipers a 27-20 halftime advantage.

Arkansas opened the second half scoring with one of Rod Harper's four touchdown catches of the night.

Trading scores back and forth until Arkansas caught the Vipers' kick return team off guard and recovered an onside kick.

After Arkansas took the lead, Bradly Chavez was able to tie the game back up with a fourth down touchdown catch.

The Twisters wasted no time in securing the lead again, Olan Campbell hauled in Kyle Rowley's eighth touchdown pass, however, with 18 seconds remaining Tennessee Valley had plenty of time on the clock.

Eakin led the Vipers 42 yards in 13 seconds and finished off the Twisters with the toss to Shipp as time expired.

Eakin finished his record setting night with 29-of-41 passing for 365 yards and no turnovers. Shipp caught just five passes, but with two 40-yard touchdown grabs he finished with 110 yards.

"We needed this win badly, whether it was on the road or not," Eakin said. "Just for confidence purposes."