SAN JOSE, Calif. -- John Dutton passed for 236 yards and five touchdowns as the San Jose SaberCats won their first ArenaBowl, shutting out the Arizona Rattlers in the first three quarters of a 52-14 victory Sunday.
James Hundon caught three TD passes as the SaberCats capped a 16-1 season with one of the most remarkable achievements in Arena Football League history: 50 shutout minutes of defense in a league where teams routinely score more than 50 points per game.
Barry Wagner rushed for a touchdown as the SaberCats emphatically avenged their only defeat of the season -- a 59-52 loss at Arizona last month -- and staked their claim as perhaps the best Arena team ever.
With San Jose's powerful offense rolling, the Rattlers trailed 24-0 at halftime and 38-0 after three quarters. Arizona barely avoided the second shutout loss in Arena football's 16-year history when Maurice Bryant broke free for a 30-yard TD pass from Sherdrick Bonner with 9:24 left.
Darren Arbet, who has built San Jose into a powerhouse in just four seasons in charge, became the first black coach to win a pro football title with a record-breaking performance by his team, which finished with the best record in Arena history and scored at least 50 points in every game.
Dutton, who won his fourth game since stepping in for injured star Mark Grieb, was named the game's MVP with a 20-for-26 performance. After the game, Dutton and Grieb shared a hug as the sellout crowd roared and their teammates celebrated on the confetti-covered field.
Dutton threw two TD passes in the first half to Hundon, who spent four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, as the SaberCats dominated on defense, holding Arizona to 63 total yards in the first half.
It was the first time in franchise history that Arizona had been held scoreless for an entire half. It was also the first shutout half in the ArenaBowl since the inaugural game 15 years ago, when Denver shut out Pittsburgh for three quarters.
San Jose stretched its lead in the third quarter on TD catches by James Roe and Jerry Reese. Meanwhile, the Rattlers were stopped on downs at the SaberCats' 13, and Bo Kelly later fumbled on the 1.
Though Arizona scored two late touchdowns, the victory capped a near-perfect season for the SaberCats, who had a roster and a game plan that were clearly a cut above every team except Arizona.
The SaberCats' shot at the first undefeated season in Arena ball history ended in Phoenix last month.
when the Rattlers beat San Jose and broke the collarbone of Grieb, the AFL's offensive player of the year.
But the SaberCats even got a bit of karmic payback for the loss of Grieb when Stacy Evans, the hulking Arizona lineman whose tackle injured Grieb, was knocked out of the championship game in the first quarter with a torn knee ligament.
One of American sports' most thriving minor leagues treated the game as a celebration, with mascots and cheerleaders from every club in the festivities. Compaq Center was packed with 16,942 fans.
The Arena league, which unveiled a new logo during the weekend, will add the expansion Colorado Crush -- with team president John Elway -- for its 17th season next spring. The league also will expand its television presence, with 71 games on NBC.
The victory gave San Jose a hat trick of second-tier pro sports championships. Last fall, the San Jose Earthquakes won their first Major League Soccer title, and the Bay Area (now San Jose) CyberRays won the first championship in WUSA women's soccer.
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