Charger win preseason thriller, 28-24

Cleo Lemon brought the crowd to its feet late in the fourth quarter with a drive that took 41 seconds to give the Chargers the lead. The ensuing kickoff looked like it could have given the Bolts a loss but an ill-timed holding penalty on San Francisco nullified a 94-yard return by Rasheed Marshall.

Cody Pickett led an 11-play, 71-yard drive that stalled at the Chargers nine late in the fourth quarter. Joe Nedney kicked a 27-yard field goal to give the Niners a 24-21 lead with a minute and nine seconds left in the game.

Ray Perkins took the ensuing kickoff from the five yard line into San Francisco territory. Without the benefit of a timeout, Lemon hit Landon Trusty twice for 14 yards and scrambled for 19 yards. Lemon then hit Martin on a touch pass fade route for a touchdown to give the Chargers the lead with 19 seconds to go in the game.

A holding penalty on Richard Seigler on Marshall's kickoff return ensured the Chargers a 28-21 victory.

Arnez Battle ran a seam route on Quentin Jammer on the first play of the game to gain 27 yards and cross the line into Chargers territory. But safety Terrence Kiel picked off an underthrown pass over the middle from Tim Rattay just over a minute into the game, taking it off the top of the grass and what looked like the shoe of the receiver on the Niners first series. The play was reviewed and although many had thought the ball skipped, the play was upheld – Chargers ball at the 46.

Michael Turner's first carry went left, before he cut it back and shook a tackler galloping down the sidelines to the three yard line, a 50-yard gain. An offensive pass interference call on Reche Caldwell pinned the Bolts back. But Drew Brees hit Kassim Osgood on a skinny post for a touchdown and seven point lead, jumping into the crowd after the touchdown.

The Niners tied the game up on the next series on the arm of Rattay. The Niners starting quarterback went 4-for-4 for 55 yards and the ball was brought over the goal line by Frank Gore from five yards out.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds and Philip Rivers led the Bolts down to the San Francisco 29 before two straight penalties pushed the team back to the 49. Rivers hit Greg Camarillo for a 20-yard gain before getting sacked and losing six. Nate Kaeding came on to try from 53 yards out, missing it outside of the left upright.

Kaeding is 3-for-7 on field goal attempts this preseason.

Rivers hit Darren Sproles four times on his third series for 59 yards and completed one to Camarillo on an impressive 13-yard gain. The backbreaker was a 24-yard touchdown pass to Sproles. With Rivers feeling the pressure and on his way down from the grasps of the Niners defense, he hit Sproles in the flat. Sproles took the ball and showed the explosive cuts and acceleration that many have cited, taking it into the end zone to cap a ten-play drive and give the Chargers a 14-7 lead.

The Niners answered the call with less than four minutes to go in the half. First overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft Alex Smith marched the Niners 71 yards in two minutes and 49 seconds, going 5-for-8 for 47 yards. The scoring blow was a pass to Fred Amey with Sammy Davis in coverage from 24 yards out. The drive was also aided by Shaun Phillips getting called for a late hit out of bounds.

Rivers was intercepted in the third quarter by Will Middlebrooks and the Niners converted that turnover into a touchdown. Ken Dorsey completed two passes for 35 yards and a face mask penalty on Jamar Fletcher nullified an interception by Matt Wilhelm which was returned 76 yards for a would-be touchdown. Maurice Hicks gave the Niners their first lead of the game with a one-yard touchdown run.

After being chased out of the pocket and a step away from out of bounds, Lemon threw across his body to hit Landon Trusty in the end zone from 30 yards out to tie the game at 21-21. Lemon had previously hit Martin for a 37-yard gain and Perkins added a 19-yard run.

Lemon went 12-for-14 for 145 yards with two touchdowns and a lost fumble.


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