Even for a longtime quarterback like Jeff Garcia, storybook endings never get old.
Garcia led the Omaha Nighthawks to victory in their season-opener against the Hartford Colonials Friday night in front of a soldout crowd at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium.
“It didn’t come easy,” Garcia said of the victory. “It’s about how you finish, and we’re definitely having some fun out there. No matter what level you play at, it doesn’t change the feeling on the field.”
The record-breaking crowd stayed until the final seconds, where Garcia led the Nighthawks to the 12-yard line with six seconds remaining. He connected with Robert Ferguson in the endzone for the touchdown that tied the game at 26. Omaha kicker Jeff Wolfert kicked the extra point for the Omaha victory.
Hartford maintained the lead throughout the game, splitting time between quarterbacks Josh McCown and Ryan Perrilloux. McCown threw for two touchdowns, finding Tyson Devree on his opening drive, followed by a gorgeous toss to Patrick Carter in the second quarter.
Perrilloux found Taurus Johnson on his first drive at QB for the Colonials. Hartford is one of the few teams utilizing a two-quarterback system in the UFL.
Rendrick Taylor caught the first Omaha touchdown in the history of the franchise in the Nighthawks’ opening drive, tying the game at seven early on.
Hartford is now 1-1 on the year, after winning their season opener last week against the Sacramento Mountain Lions. They return to action on Oct. 9 at home against the Florida Tuskers.
Omaha opens their season at 1-0, they take the field again on Oct. 2 when they host the Mountain Lions.
Fourth Quarter, 0:00: Nighthawks 27-26: Their first lead of the game was the most important one. Nighthawks win their historical season opener in Omaha, 27-26.
Jeff Garcia connects with Robert Ferguson for the final touchdown pass that wins the game for the Nighthawks. Omaha’s soldout crowd goes crazy for their hometown team.
Fourth Quarter, 0:06, Nighthawks 27-26: Garcia successful from the 12-yard line. Connects with Robert Ferguson with six seconds remaining, the extra point will win the game for Omaha.
Wolfert connects with the extra point. 24,000 fans going wild.
Fourth Quarter, 0:12, Colonials 26-20: 4th down and 4, Garcia and the Nighthawks at their 12 yard line. Omaha takes their final timeout, trying to quiet the crowd so they can communicate their play.
Fourth Quarter, 2:00, Colonials 26-20: Garcia connects with Robert Ferguson for second third-down conversion, set up at the 43.
Garcia takes the run himself for yet another first down.
The Nighthawks are making good use fo their time, make another first down on a toss to Roy Hall.
Fourth Quarter, 2:00, Colonials 26-20: Ricardo Colclough has a successful return for Nighthawks, they take it to the 50-yard line at the two-minute warning. 3rd and 6.
Fourth Quarter, 2:43, Colonials 26-20: Hartford capitalizes on a reverse carry by Jason Chery, came up a yard short of a first down.
Colonials set up for field goal attempt. Mehlhaff connects to give Hartford a six-point lead.
Fourth Quarter, 3:44, Colonials 23-20: Just before he was dragged down by the Omaha defense, McCown quickly releases as he’s being tackled to Syndric Steptoe for another first down.
Hartford at the 16, 1st and 10.
Fourth Quarter, 5:10, Colonials 23-20: Hartford back on the attack, McCown connects with Taurus Johnson at the 40.
Two plays later, McCown finds Patrick Carter for another first down completion. Colonials at Omaha’s 42 yard line, 1st and 10.
Fourth Quarter, 7:51, Colonials 23-20: Garcia hits Devard Darling in the right corner of the endzone. Garcia has second touchdown throw of the night.
Wolfert connects for extra point, Omaha pulls within three points of the Colonials’ lead.
Fourth Quarter, 8:20, Colonials 23-13: Hartford’s Adrian Grady intercepts Garcia’s toss, but Maurice Foutain is called with a roughing the passer personal foul, Nighthawks keep possession. 2nd and Goal.
Fourth Quarter, 8:56, Colonials 23-13: Colonials sidelines furious that Omaha’s Ferguson did not get penalized as well during the personal foul flag. Ferguson threw punches after the initial hit.
Garcia connects with Putzier again at 12 yard line.
Jonas Seawright incurs five-yard penalty for offsides, Nighthawks at the 6 yard line at 2nd and 4.
Fourth Quarter, 10:42, Colonials 23-13: Personal foul by the Colonials after the play allows automatic first down at the 33 yard line. Garcia tosses to Jeb Putzier at the 22 for another first down completion.
Fourth Quarter, 11:32, Colonials 23-13: Clarett takes a quick hit at Jy Bond after the Colonials punt. Somebody’s excited to have his football legs back under him.
Nighthawks have possession at 48-yard line.
Fourth Quarter, 13:00, Colonials 23-13: Steptoe receives at 22 yard line. Ryan Perrilloux back in to lead this Colonials’ charge.
Fourth Quarter, 14:00, Colonials 23-13: 3rd and goal at the 6, Garcia throws two incomplete passes into the endzone.
Jeff Wolferd comes in for a field goal attempt. It’s good — 23-13 Colonials.
Third Quarter, 0:00, Colonials 23-10: Green takes it within the ten, but delay of game is called on Omaha — they take a five-yard penalty. Head into fourth quarter with Nighthawks on the 9-yard line.
Third Quarter, 0:28, Colonials 23-10: A catch by Devard Darling and a rush by Ahman Green take Omaha across for the first down. 1st at 10 at 41.
Garcia connects with Mike Hass to bring Omaha within the 20-yard line.
Third Quarter, 3:02, Colonials 23-10: Omaha finally converts on a third down, Nighthawks at the 35, 2nd and 10.
Garcia finds Robert Ferguson with a clean pass for the first down. 1st and 10 at 46.
Five-yard penalty on Nighthawks for false start. 41 yard line, 1st and 15.
Third Quarter, 5:28, Colonials 23-10: Maurice Clarett makes his first appearance, takes first reception to the 20-yard line, where he’s collared by Hartford defense.
Third Quarter, 5:58, Colonials 23-10: After the Nighthawks deny a catch by Steptoe, the Colonials must set up for a 36-yard field goal attempt by Mehlhaff. He’s right on with the kick, Colonials take a 13-point lead.
Third Quarter, 6:08, Colonials 20-10: McCown takes the first down on his own, diving over to gain for the Colonials. 1st and 10 at 27.
Lorenzo Booker picks up 8 on a rush, taking advantage of a screen.3rd and 2 inside the 20.
Third Quarter, 10:15, Colonials 20-10: McCown tosses to Ronnie Ghent for back-to-back plays, first toss gains 25 yards for the Colonials. Hartford at the 30, 2nd-and-3.
Third Quarter, 11:07, Colonials 20-10: After Omaha’s long-ball attempts are foiled by Hartford’s defense, the Colonials regain posession at the 22-yard line.
Dixon picks up 8 yards in the first play. 2nd and 2 at the 30. Takes first down in the following play, McCown hands off to Dixon again for the two-yard gain.
Third Quarter, 11:37, Colonials 20-10: Garcia looks long to Robert Ferguson and Devard Darling in two consecutive plays, but Hartford coverage is tight. Head coach Chris Palmer is running his defense like a hockey team, constantly changing.
Third Quarter, 12:07, Colonials 20-10: Second turnover by Colonials. Charles Grant snatches football from a rushing Dixon. Garcia and Omaha offense take over at Colonials 48.
Third Quarter, 12:50, Colonials 20-10: 2nd and 8 at Colonials 30, Josh Johnson catches at 40 and carries for first down to 48 yard line. 1st and 10.
Third Quarter, 13:50, Colonials 20-10: Garcia gets rocked by Maurice Fountain at the 30-yard line, the Nighthawks kick it away to Steptoe, who gains a few yards to the Colonials 23-yard line.
Halftime: Nelly rocks the halftime show in Omaha. Bringing back classics like “E I” and “Hot in Herrre”
Second Quarter, 0:07, Colonials 20-10: McCown lets it fly from the 35 yard line, finds Patrick Carter in the endzone, reminiscent of Tom Brady and Randy Moss connections. Second touchdown pass for McCown.
Mehlhaff misses extra point, Colonials gain 10-point lead on Omaha.
Second Quarter, 0:21, Colonials 14-10: McCown hits Markee White for a first down at the Omaha 40. Follows up with a completion to Syndric Steptoe. Calvin Lowry tries to tackle Steptoe, but is blocked by the referee, good luck for the Colonials. 1st and 10 at 39.
Second Quarter, 1:09, Colonials 14-10: Wolferd comes out for his second field goal attempt. His second attempt is successful. Omaha comes away with three points as a result from McCown’s fumble.
Second Quarter, 2:10, Colonials 14-7: Green rushes to Hartford 18-yard line, Green already has more rushing yards than Sacramento accumulated in Hartford’s season opener last week.
Rendrick Taylor makes catch for a short five yard gain to the 12-yard line. 2nd and 4.
Second Quarter, 4:22, Colonials 14-7: McCown is sacked at 35 yard line by Josh Savage. Recovered by Omaha’s Dusty Dvoracek — Nighthawks ball at Colonials 28.
Second Quarter, 4:45, Colonials 14-7: First field goal attempt of the game by the Nighthawks, approximately 45-yard attempt for Jeff Wolfert. Kick is wide left, no good.
Second Quarter, 4:50, Colonials 14-7: Former NFL connections between Garcia and Devard Darling going on for Omaha. 18-yard gain to 30-yard line.
Michale Spicer sacks Jeff Garcia at the Omaha 30 yard line. 3rd and 16.
Second Quarter, 8:20, Colonials 14-7: Shaud Williams compiles back-to-back first downs for Omaha, a total of 13 yards. 1st and 10 at 48-yard line.
Second Quarter, 9:00, Colonials 14-7: Green is stalled at Omaha’s 28-yard line. No gain in the play. 2nd and 9.
Second Quarter, 10:00, Colonials 14-7: 3rd and goal at the 6, Perrilloux finds Taurus Johnson with a deep throw into the far corner in the endzone.
Mehlhaff kicks for the extra point. Perrilloux is a success in his first drive for the Colonials.
Second Quarter, 10:50, 7-7: Perrilloux tosses to Booker, who takes advantage of a screen for the Hartford first down.
1st and goal at the 7.
Second Quarter, 13:07, 7-7: Ryan Perrilloux takes over QB responsibilities for the Colonials, but slipped on his second snap, and then was taken down by Omaha’s Cato June. 2nd and 14.
Second Quarter, 14:07, 7-7: Hartford starts with the ball at their 35-yard line. 4th and 2. Dixon carries the ball over for the Colonials first down.
First Quarter, 1:16, 7-7: Nighthawks going for it at their own 39 yard line. Colonials’ Simoni Lawrence stuns Green’s 1-yard attempt. Hartford football in their own territory.
First Quarter, 2:25, 7-7: Garcia finds Christian Hopkins at the 35 yard line. 3rd-and-5.
4th and 1. Colonials defense disallow an Ahman Green first down attempt. Nebraska fans want them to go for it. Nighthawks timeout.
First Quarter, 3:25, 7-7: McCown hands to Dixon at the Colonials 35, but Lee Vickers takes him back beyond the line of scrimmage. 3rd-and-9.
After McCown attempts a pass to Lorenzo Booker, Nebraska defense shuts down the effort, and Hartford must punt away.
First Quarter, 6:25, 7-7: McCown sees his first toss denied by Jay Moore at Colonials 25-yard line.
First Quarter, 6:48, 7-7: Garcia hits Rendrick Taylor for the first Omaha touchdown in history. Both teams score in their opening drives. Taylor just signed with the Nighthawks on Monday after he was cut by Tampa Bay.
First Quarter, 7:30, Colonials 7-0: Two consecutive carries by Ahman Green not only gets the crowd going, but it also takes the Nighthawks to the Colonials 20-yard line.
First Quarter, 9:00, Colonials 7-0: Ricardo Colclough receives, gets tackled by kicker Mehlhaff at the Nighthawks 45.
15 yard penalty by the Colonials. Personal foul by Tank Daniels following the play.
First Quarter, 10:00, Colonials 7-0: McCown throws to Tyson Devree from the 15 into the endzone, perfect pass from McCown for the touchdown.
Colonials incur a five-yard penalty for a delay of game.
Taylor Mehlhaff still kicks for the extra point.
First Quarter, 11:40, 0-0: Josh McCown finds Shaheer McBride at the Nighthawks 20-yard line. Colonials are now inside the 20.
8:05 p.m.: Nebraskans sure do love their football. Colonials coach Chris Palmer says the key to the game is taking the crowd out of the game as soon as possible.
Hartford wins the toss, and has elected to receive.
7:57 p.m.: A traffic jam heading into the stadium, and the crowd of 24,000 is going crazy as the Nighthawks take the field.
7:55 p.m.: Maurice Clarett is thrilled to be back on the gridiron, returning to the game after a five-year absence. He will be seeing limited time on the field tonight, playing with special teams for Omaha.
7:45 p.m.: Josh McCown and Jeff Garcia face off in their first UFL matchup. McCown comes in with a win, while Garcia is starting in front of a sold out crowd in the Nighthawks home opener.
Omaha native and Nighthawks running back Ahman Green is excited to be playing in front of his hometown crowd.
8:45 a.m.: The Hartford Colonials will get their first road test in Nebraska on Friday night at 8 p.m. They will match up against the Omaha Nighthawks in front of a sold out crowd of 24,000 at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium.
After a huge 27-10 win in their season opener at home last week over Daunte Culpepper and the Sacramento Mountain Lions, the Colonials look to start their season with two consecutive wins.
The Nighthawks boast a legit lineup that should not be taken lightly, however. Led by four-time NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, the Nighthawks are ready to prove themselves in front of their hometown fans.
Other familiar faces on the Nighthawks include running backs Ahman Green and Maurice Clarett, defensive end Charles Grant and linebacker Cato June.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. Check NESN.com all night for updates.