ORLANDO, Fla. — Three points separated the Locomotives and the Florida Tuskers as time expired Thursday at the Florida Citrus Bowl. But the real difference was DeDe Dorsey.
Dorsey, who re-signed this week, accounted for 204 yards of offense and set up two scores as Las Vegas finally defeated Florida in a regular-season game, 20-17.
The Locos beat the Tuskers in the United Football League’s inaugural championship game in November but had been 0-3 against them in the regular season.
Las Vegas (1-1), which dropped the season opener to Florida 27-20 on Sept. 18 at Sam Boyd Stadium, also avoided falling to 0-2 with six regular-season games remaining.
"We could not afford to go 0-2," Locos coach Jim Fassel said. "We fought back after losing the lead. There’s a lot of character on this team."
Parker Douglass booted a winning 21-yard field goal as time expired, but the game belonged to Dorsey.
He rushed 14 times for 99 yards and caught seven passes for 105 yards. Though he didn’t reach the end zone, Dorsey’s 59-yard reception and 47-yard run set up Las Vegas scores, and his third-down completion from Tim Rattay kept alive the winning drive.
"Outstanding," Fassel said of Dorsey’s performance. "He’s played well against Florida in the past. I knew I wanted to get him the ball, and he came through for us."
Dorsey felt good about the Locos’ matchup in the passing game.
"I just needed a refresher course to pick up the offense," Dorsey said. "We felt our backs would be better than the linebackers covering us."
Florida (1-2) took a 17-10 lead when Brooks Bollinger hit Cortez Hankton on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 6:36 remaining.
But the Locos answered with a five-play, 71-yard drive capped by Rattay’s 17-yard TD pass to Andrae Thurman with 4:12 left.
Las Vegas’ defense forced a three-and-out, and the Locos then went 60 yards for Douglass’ game winner.
Rattay finished 27-for-36 for 324 yards passing and two scores.
Special teams and defense helped the Tuskers rally from a 10-0 deficit to tie the game at halftime.
A Simeon Castille interception set up Nick Novak’s 45-yard field goal for Florida’s first points. The Tuskers tied the game at 10 on Dominic Rhodes’ 14-yard run with 1:24 left in the first half, one play after Aveion Cason’s 47-yard punt return.
"We could have easily been behind 21-0," Tuskers coach Jay Gruden said. "Las Vegas dominated the first half, and we had to feel good it was only 10-10.”
Two long pass completions and five first-half sacks of Bollinger helped Las Vegas take early control.LAS VEGAS — 20
FLORIDA — 17
KEY: DeDe Dorsey had 99 yards rushing on 14 carries and 105 yards receiving on seven catches for the Locomotives.
NEXT: Locos vs. Omaha, 7 p.m. Oct. 8, Sam Boyd Stadium