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Grady returns as Blaze hammer Iowa, 55-41

DES MOINES, Iowa (ABC 4 Sports) - In his first start since June, Tommy Grady threw four touchdowns as the Utah Blaze defeated the Iowa Barnstormers, 55-41, ending a 4-game losing streak.
DES MOINES, Iowa (ABC 4 Sports) - The Utah Blaze earned a 55-41 victory on the road over the Iowa Barnstormers on Saturday night during the inaugural Iowa Bacon Bowl. Making his first start since June, MVP quarterback Tommy Grady stepped in and threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns while helping Utah snap a four-game skid.

Iowa struck first as quarterback Brian Reader connected with Jesse Schmidt on a 19-yard touchdown during the game’s opening drive. The Blaze tied the game with their first possession, as Chase Deadder took a handoff and punched it into the end zone to complete a seven-play, 45-yard series.

Utah’s defense turned up the heat on the Barnstormers, promptly halting the offense with turnovers on back-to-back possessions. Three plays into the ensuing drive, rookie defensive back Arness Ikner picked off the pass attempt by Reader and Kyle Brotzman converted the turnover into a 21-yard field goal to give the Blaze a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Ikner loudly made his presence felt a series later, stifling yet another Iowa possession as he stepped in front of Reader’s pass and outmuscled a receiver to secure his second interception. With the ball in hand, Inker scampered 28 yards to the end zone for a touchdown to give the Blaze a 17-7 advantage.

J.J. Raterink stepped into the game at quarterback for the Barnstormers and tossed a 22-yard touchdown to Darius Reynolds on the following drive. Utah matched the score as Deadder rumbled into the end zone from a yard out for his second rushing touchdown of the night.

The Barnstormers found the end zone again during the next drive as Raterink scored on a quarterback sneak, but Utah would get the final word of the second quarter. After Tommy Grady launched a 41-yard completion to LaVaughn Macon, Deadder snared a two-yard touchdown pass to give the Blaze a 31-21 lead at the midway point.

Utah added to its advantage midway through the third quarter with an eight-play, 44-yard drive. Grady capped off the series with a 16-yard throw to DeJay Lester, who barreled through defenders before stretching the ball over the goal-line for the touchdown. Iowa finally responded late in the quarter, as Raterink hit Marco Thomas for a score.

The ensuing kickoff by Ross Gornall hit high off the nets and bounced into the arms of Barnstormers defensive back Ter’Ran Benton. Iowa converted the net recovery into a score early in the final frame, as Raterink found Marco Thomas in the end zone to cut the lead, 38-35. The Blaze offense needed just three plays to answer, as Macon hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Grady before slamming in the dasher board walls.

Utah’s defense took to the field again and denied the Barnstormers on fourth down, executing a dominant goal-line stand to force a turnover on downs. After regaining possession, Grady fired a 13-yard strike to Lester to give Utah a 52-35 lead late in the fourth.

Iowa added points late in the contest as Raterink connected with Schmidt for a 23-yard touchdown and Utah closed out the scoring with a 23-yard field goal by Kyle Brotzman.

As part of the Bacon Bowl festivities, Utah was presented with a unique bacon trophy and each player was given a five pound package of uncooked bacon.
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