The United Football League regular-season finale Friday had all the markings of an exhibition game: reserves getting major minutes, sloppy play and a meager crowd.
The Locomotives handled the New York Sentinels with ease, 41-7, but that was secondary to Las Vegas coach Jim Fassel not wanting to risk injury to his starters going into the UFL championship game against the Florida Tuskers next Friday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Starting quarterback J.P. Losman didn’t suit up, nor did safety Tony Parrish. Fassel substituted liberally, and the team hardly missed a beat with Tim Rattay calling signals, closing with a three-game winning streak for a 4-2 record.
"I rode them hard this week," Fassel said. "I didn’t want us to play a sloppy game, and I thought our guys did a good job. I expected the second group to play well, and they did."
The Locos took control quickly before a crowd estimated at 5,500. Only 1:16 into the game, Josh Scobey blocked Scott Player’s punt at the New York 17, and Ezra Butler scooped the loose ball and bolted untouched into the end zone.
Rattay, who was 10-for-20 for 97 yards and two touchdowns, led the Locos on a seven-play, 62-yard drive early in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. He hit David Kircus down the left side for a 23-yard gain to the New York 25 and hooked up with tight end Jake Nordin for a 4-yard touchdown.
"I was looking forward to the opportunity to play," Rattay said. "I didn’t really feel any pressure to produce. I just went out and tried to have fun."
By halftime it was 17-0, and the Locos could begin focusing on the championship game against the unbeaten Tuskers (6-0) — the only team to beat the Locos.
"We didn’t approach it like a preseason game," Rattay said. "We knew we had to get some stuff straight. If we had come out and laid an egg, it would have been tough for next week."
The Sentinels were as inept as their 0-6 record indicates. Las Vegas limited New York to 45 yards rushing, and cornerback Wale Dada intercepted Sentinels quarterbacks Quinn Gray and Ingle Martin once apiece.
There was a scary moment in the third quarter when New York’s Noah Herron was injured after he fumbled at the Sentinels 21. After lying motionless for several minutes, he was carted off on a stretcher and taken to Sunrise Hospital with neck and head injuries.
Herron was able to move his extremities and was listed in stable condition.
Rattay took advantage of the turnover, finding Nordin for a second touchdown hookup, this one for 3 yards as Las Vegas stretched its lead to 24-0.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 387-2913.LAS VEGAS — 41
NEW YORK — 7
• KEY: Locos quarterback Tim Rattay threw for 97 yards and two touchdowns in his first start.
• NEXT: UFL Championship Game, Locomotives vs. Tuskers, noon Friday, Sam Boyd Stadium