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Tampa Bay 20 at Arizona 171984 Week 2 - Friday, March 2, 1984
Attendance: 31,264, TV: ESPN
From Herald news services
TEMPE, Ariz. - Gary Anderson ran for two touchdowns Friday night to help the Tampa Bay Bandits gain a measure of revenge with a 20-17 USFL triumph over the Arizona Wranglers. A year ago, Tampa Bay was demolished twice by scores of 42-3 and 31-8 at the hands of the Chicago Blitz, who now operate as the Wranglers' franchise with George Allen as coach. The victory, before a crowd of 31,264 at Sun Devil Stadium, improved Tampa Bay to 2-0 and dropped the Wranglers to 1-1.
Anderson broke a 3-3 tie by running for a pair of second-quarter scores, but Arizona made it close when a 4-yard TD pass from Greg Landry to Wamon Buggs cut the margin to 7.
However, Wrangler hopes were dashed when Wayne Peace recovered Frank Corral's subsequent onside kick.
The first half was all Tampa Bay. After a scoreless first quarter, the Bandits scored on a 27-yard field goal by Zenon Andrusyshyn. The score was set up when nose guard Fred Nordgren partially blocked a Corral punt. Arizona took the subsequent kickoff and marched 76 yards in 14 plays before settling for a 21-yard field goal by Corral. Tampa Bay then reeled off 14 unanswered points before halftime on Anderson runs of 8 and 2 yards. A key play which set up the first touchdown came when the Bandits were awarded a first down on the Wranglers' 9-yard line after cornerback Frank Minnifield was called for holding on a 3rd-and-10 play.
Arizona began a comeback attempt early in the fourth quarter when Landry passed 27 yards to Trumame Johnson for a touchdown that cut Tampa Bay's margin to 17-10. On the previous play, Johnson had dropped a third-down pass, prompting coach Allen to send in the field goal unit. The Wranglers then called time out and Allen switched signals, calling for the play that resulted in Johnson's redeeming touchdown catch. Tampa Bay went ahead 20-10 with 2:51 remaining when Andrusyshyn barely cleared the crossbar on a 49-yard field goal.
Anderson, one of the USFL's major victories in its battle for collegiate talent with the NFL, finished with 55 yards on 15 carries. Tampa Bay's John Reaves connected on 13-of-31 passes for 186 yards, with Eric Truvillion accounting for five catches for 63 yards. Landry kept Arizona in the game, completing 18-of-29 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns. The leading rusher for the Wranglers was Tim Spencer, who had 49 yards on 13 carries.