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Updated May 29, 2012 - 1:04 pm

Former Rattler Johnie Kirton dies at 26

Johnie Kirton scored the game-winning touchdown for the San Jose Sabercats in an 84-77 overtime win over the Chicago Rush Saturday night.

Tuesday morning, news broke of his passing. Kirton died Monday at the age of 26.

The former Washington Husky was traded from the Arizona Rattlers to San Jose May 10, and Kirton had played well for the Sabercats, scoring five rushing touchdowns in the team's last two wins over San Antonio and Chicago.

Darren Arbet, head coach of San Jose, issued a statement through the team's official website:

It is with great shock and sadness that we confirm that Johnie Kirton has passed away. He was such a great kid, and in the short time he was in San Jose he was such a valued member of our organization's family. Johnie was a great team guy and hard-nosed player, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Johnie's family in this difficult time.

The Arena Football League also issued a statement:

The Arena Football League is deeply saddened by the news that we've lost one of our players this morning. Johnie Kirton, 26, made lasting memories over three seasons with the Chicago Rush, Arizona Rattlers, and San Jose SaberCats. Information about his passing is limited at this time, but we hope that everyone will respect the privacy of the Kirton family and all those who knew Johnie as his loss is grieved.

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