NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans VooDoo entered Friday night’s game against former LSU star Jordan Jefferson and the Pittsburgh Power aiming to end a two-game losing streak.
In the end, the VooDoo added to their woes and lost their starting quarterback.
Kurt Rocco strained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the VooDoo’s last offensive play of the first half and backup Zach Eskridge failed to hold on to a three-point lead as the VooDoo fell 46-43.
Now, one season after reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2004, the VooDoo are 1-3 and facing an undetermined number of weeks without Rocco.
“Injuries happen ... and I have to make the most of my opportunities, and I didn’t,” said Eskridge, who completed eight of 15 passes for 29 yards and one touchdown. He was also sacked three times.
The VooDoo blew a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, allowing Jefferson to lead two late scoring drives. On the first, he connected with P.J. Berry on a 47-yard TD pass. He then led a second Power drive to the VooDoo 2, where Berry scored from 2 yards with 12:41 left.
The VooDoo had chances, but failed to score on its last two possessions.
Not that the loss was all Eskridge’s fault. The VooDoo defense allowed Pittsburgh (1-3), the Arena Football League’s worst offense, to nearly reach its weekly scoring average of 29 by halftime with 26 points in the first half. Turnovers and special teams breakdowns also contributed to the VooDoo loss.
“We put the ball on the ground twice — once on the goal line,” VooDoo coach Pat O’Hara said. “It’s disappointing.”
One week ago, Jefferson and the Power offense was held scoreless at halftime en route to a 45-14 loss to Chicago — both scoring marks were low points in franchise history. Against the VooDoo, Jefferson, playing in front of his hometown crowd, passed for 223 yards and five touchdowns.
In three previous games, Jefferson threw eight TDs.
“Blown coverages, it will kill you in this league,” VooDoo Demarcus Robinson said. “And we had two of them.”
Rocco completed 7 of 13 passes for 86 yards and two TDs. He also threw an interception. At the end of the first half, Rocco injured his knee on a rushing play.
The VooDoo also lost receiver Donovan Morgan (groin) and fullback Bruce Figgins (back). Before leaving the game, Morgan caught three passes for 42 yards and one score.
Derek Lee led the VooDoo in receiving with five catches for 50 yards and two TDs.
O’Hara said Rocco will be evaluated, offering no time line of how soon he could return. O’Hara did say because of these and other injuries, the VooDoo would actively seek free agents to sign at multiple positions.
“I just have to have a short memory,” Eskridge said. “I feel like I let my team down. I’ve just got to learn from this and not make these mistakes again.”
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