Power scores early and often in 50-26 win against Kiss

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Before and after every Power game, even in postgame news conferences, linebacker James Bryant wears a mask similar to the one Hannibal Lecter wore in the film "The Silence of the Lambs."

Strange as it may seem, it serves some kind of purpose, at least to Bryant.

"It makes you think twice about what you're looking at -- eye-to-eye, face-to-face -- and who you're going against across the ball," he said. "It's intimidating."

Though rules forbid him from wearing it in a game -- much to his dismay -- Bryant was intimidating enough against the Los Angeles Kiss, setting the tone on the first play of what turned out to be a 50-26 victory Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.

As quarterback Aaron Garcia, 43, playing in his first game with the Kiss (2-7) after a trade Monday from Jacksonville, dropped back for a pass, an untouched Bryant broke through the offensive line, sacked Garcia and forced a fumble that was ultimately recovered in the end zone by Anthony Hoke for a touchdown.

The play was a precursor for an overwhelming defensive performance that paved the way for a blowout.

"When you get a guy wide open and he gets hit like that at home -- the crowd's going to be on our side, the momentum is on our side -- it will have already defeated our opponent from the very first play," Bryant said. "We're not playing around with these guys. We're not playing around with nobody. We're coming for everybody."

The victory was the third in a row for the Power (6-3) after a two-game losing streak, while the expansion Kiss fell for the sixth consecutive time.

It was the Power's third victory this season by at least 20 points. Entering the season, it had just one such win in the franchise's three-year history.

On the heels of his best two-game stretch this season, Power quarterback Tommy Grady connected on 27 of 37 passes for 202 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Grady was generous with those completions, as three Power wide receivers had at least seven receptions.

Routinely facing defensive pressure and a small pocket to pass, Garcia struggled for much of the game, completing only half of his passes (24 of 48).

"We had a sour taste in our mouth from the Spokane road trip," Power coach Ron James said. "Even though we won the game, we felt like we under-performed. We wanted to come out and play well early and kind of put it on them. We did that."

The win, however, did not come without a loss for the Power, as defensive back Virgil Gray was injured on a kickoff return in the second quarter and had to be helped off the field by team trainers, unable to put any weight on his left leg.

Earlier in the game, Gray returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown to give the Power a 28-0 lead in the second quarter. The interception was his eighth this season, tying him for the Arena Football League lead.

Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.

First Published May 17, 2014 9:05 PM

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