Aaron Rouse returned one of his three interceptions 46 yards for a touchdown to help the Virginia Destroyers win the United Football League championship game, 17-3 over the Las Vegas Locomotives on Friday night.
Dominic Rhodes, the league's offensive MVP, ran for 90 yards, scoring on a 2-yard run in the second quarter to give the Destroyers a 14-0 lead. The Destroyers gave coach Marty Schottenheimer his first pro title.
''I couldn't be more pleased,'' Schottenheimer said. ''Not only for our squad and our coaches and myself certainly, but for the whole Virginia Beach region. We all heard people say that this wouldn't happen, but I said to a number of our staff members, 'Who says we can't make it happen? We're going to make it happen.' It was sort of against all odds, but now we've done it, and I take tremendous pride in that.''
A crowd of 14,172 attended the game at the Sportsplex.
Rouse, selected the MVP of the game, played at First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach, about 20 minutes from the Sportsplex.
''A championship here - in my hometown - it means a lot,'' Rouse said. ''We've been through it all together. From Day 1, when people said this league wouldn't happen and this team wouldn't happen, and through Hurricane Irene when we were out there in trailers. We stuck together. Nobody complained. And here we are.''
''We set the goal of being champions. Marty told us from the start, `One play at a time.' He said, 'Take it one play at a time, and at the end of the schedule you'll be champions.' And we are.''
Virginia's Chris Greisen completed 21 of 31 passes for 154 yards.
Clifton Smith's 60-yard punt return set up Rhodes' short touchdown run.
Virginia didn't allow a first down until midway through the fourth quarter.
''Last week we struggled a bit, and we really worked with our defense leading up to this game,'' Schottenheimer said. ''I'm a simple man, and I don't try to reinvent the wheel. We just try to do the things that we do best. We got back to basics tonight and had a big game against a very good offensive football team.''
In Omaha, Neb., in the third-place game, Cory Ross scored on a 23-yard run in overtime to give the Sacramento Mountain Lions a 25-19 comeback victory over the Omaha Nighthawks.