Tuskers Rough Up The Nighthawks

Quarterback Chris Greisen was all but flawless in his first United Football League start in a 31-14 victory over the Omaha Nighthawks. In a dominating Tuskers win, running back Dominic Rhodes broke one TD for 65 yards and amassed 111 total in rushing, the defense held Jeff Garcia and the Omaha Nighthawks to 85 total yards, registered a pick six and flirted with the league’s first-ever shutout through three quarters.
 
The win kept alive the Tuskers’ post-season hopes before a Florida Citrus Bowl crowd of 9,203 and Florida (3-3) registered its first home victory of the season to move into a tie with the Nighthawks (3-3) for second place in the UFL standings.  Head to head, the Tuskers have the edge.
 
Before Omaha registered two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Florida was up 31-0.
 
 In place of injured 2009 UFL MVP Brooks Bollinger, Griesen developed a rhythm earlier and avoided the pressure as he finished with 215 yards and touchdowns to Huey Whitaker and Calvin Russell, who finished with six catches for 61 yards.
 
Leading 14-0 at halftime, Florida used big plays in a 17-point third quarter. Rhodes (111 yards on 11 carries) made it 21-0 on a 65-yard breakaway then Keiwan Ratliff returned a Garcia pick 29 yards 15 seconds later. Nick Novak added a 42-yard field goal.
 
With Garcia, also suffering a strained calf injury, replaced after completing just 9 of 19 passes, backup Matt Gutierrez made the most of his opportunity, finishing with 188 yards and a 2-yard touchdown to Jeb Putzier.
 
Omaha got a touchdown with 5:15 to go. Florida linebacker Terrance Milton picked off Gutierrez in the end zone and was stripped of the ball while starting a return. Robert Ferguson fell on the ball for a touchdown and the Nighthawks were within 17.
 
Griesen completed seven of his first eight passes and was in control after that as Florida built a 14-0 lead on the strength of his two touchdown passes.  The Tuskers had a chance to stretch their lead to three scores, but Omaha safety Jermaine Phillips picked off an ill-advised Griesen floater in the end zone to end the threat with 17 seconds to play.
 
Maurice Clarett had five catches for 38 yards for the Nighthawks, who managed just 46 yards rushing.