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San Diego Fleet (2-2) at Memphis Express (1-3)
Final Score: Express 26, Fleet 23
Recap: The story for the Memphis Express all week was their new starting QB Zach Mettenberger, and he came through to give his team their first win. His stats did not blow anyone away, but his two touchdowns were enough with that Singletary defense. Mettenberger showed how clutch he can be with an incredible over-the-shoulder fade throw to RB Terrence Magee for a TD, then followed it up by calling his own number on a QB draw for the 2-point conversion to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. The real story was kicker Austin MacGinnis who was signed earlier this week after letting go of former K Jasper. MacGinnis made an immediate impact nailing all 4 of his kicks including a high-pressure situation at the end of the game to give his team the lead. The defense asserted their dominance with four takeaways. Their focus was clearly slowing down the RB duo of Ja’Quan Gardner and Terrell Watson. They had less than 50 yards between the two of them, and the Fleet could not move the ball after their starting QB went down.
The Fleet started the game on fire with a quick touchdown on a punt return by CB Ron Brooks after the Express’ first drive stalled out. After that, Philip Nelson and company looked sharp, going 9 for 12 and throwing an accurate touchdown to Dontez Ford. Unfortunately, Philip Nelson left the game in the middle of the second quarter. Backup QB Alex Ross came in to finish the game. Although he threw a 30-yard touchdown on his second play on the field, Ross was not able to move the ball against the Express. He completed less than 50% of his passes and only managed 4.4 yards per attempt. With no production coming through the air, and little production coming on the ground, The Fleet was only able to score 3 points in the second half allowing the Express to grind back into the game to get their first notch in the win column. The Fleet head to San Diego to try to bounce back against the Salt Lake Stallions. The Express try to double their wins on the season in Atlanta against a Legends team coming off their first win of the season.
Zach Mettenberger (QB): 18/25, 174 Passing yds, 7.0 YPA, 1 Pass TD, 5 Rush att, 0 rush yds, 1 TD, 1 Rush 2-PT.
Terrance Magee (RB): 3 rush, 6 yds, 2.0 YPC, 2 rec. on 2 targets, 9 yds, 1 TD.
Reece Horn (WR): 4 Receptions on 4 targets, 63 rec. yds.
Drew Jackson (MLB): 13 tackles (13 Solo), 4 TFL, 1 sack, 4 PD, 1 INT.
San Diego Fleet
Philip Nelson (QB): 9/12, 110 Passing yds, 9.2 YPA, 1 Pass TD, 4 Rush att, 27 rush yds.
Terrell Watson (RB): 10 rush, 43 yds, 4.3 YPC, 1 Rush 2-PT.
Dontez Ford (WR): 3 Receptions on 6 targets, 71 rec. yds, 1 TD.
Ron Brooks (CB): 3 tackles (3 Solo), 1 Punt Return for a TD
Written by: David Connors @connors_david
Orlando Apollos (4-0) at Salt Lake Stallions (1-3)
Final Score: Apollos 20, Stallions 11
Recap: In a game that had to utilize a Zamboni-like machine to clear snow from the field, you had the initial feeling that the warm-blooded Orlando Apollos would struggle to adapt to the inclimate weather. However, the Apollos utilized their sure-handed pass catchers, steady kicker, and the aggressive-minded defense to be able to play time of possession style game to where they were in control of the tempo. Garrett Gilbert put up a steady and solid game with the elements and his #1 WR Charles Johnson proved he could still produce no matter the weather. On defense, both of their standup pass rushers (Earl Okine and Andrew Ankrah) had strong games, especially with some LBs out with injury, they were putting pressure on the QB all day with 4 sacks which helped keep the Stallions offense off balance all day.
The Stallions put together a solid performance, especially with the snowy field conditions, but it simply was not enough to get the W. Josh Woodrum again looked like one of the better QBs in the league, but he couldn’t push the ball downfield very much. Rather, he leaned on his stable of RBs in Branden Oliver, Joel Bouagnon, and Terrell Newby. They all chipped in on the effort: Oliver looked good running inside and in space, Bouagnon punched it in for a TD, and Newby made some nice plays as a pass catcher. Brian Tyms led the way for the pass catchers with Pierson-El and Bell falling behind him in production. On defense, it was a solid effort and Karter Schult continued his ascension to one of the premier pass rushers in the league. He only had 2 solo tackles but chipped in 4 QB hits, which is especially impressive when you take into account he left the field briefly after tweaking his knee. Overall, the Stallions defense displayed aggressiveness and poise to not lose focus on crappy day weather-wise and will be ready to play next week.
Garrett Gilbert (QB): 22/32, 244 Passing yds, 7.6 YPA, 1 Pass TD, 5 carries for 6 rush yds.
Akeem Hunt (RB): 8 rush, 35 yds, 4.4 YPC, 1 TD, 1 rec. on 1 target, 19 rec. yds.
Charles Johnson (WR): 9 Receptions on 12 targets, 105 rec. Yds, 11.67 YPC.
Andrew Ankrah (LB): 4 tackles (3 Solo), 1 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 QB Hits, 1 FF.
Salt Lake Stallions
Josh Woodrum (QB): 16/22, 161 Passing yds, 7.3 YPA, 1 Pass 2-Pt.
Branden Oliver (RB): 17 rush, 71 yds, 4.2 YPC, 2 rec. on 2 targets, 10 yds.
Brian Tyms(WR): 4 Receptions on 5 targets, 32 rec. yds, 8.0 YPC.
Karter Schult (DE): 2 tackles (2 Solo), 4 QB Hits.
Written by: Roy Countryman
San Antonio Commanders (2-2) at Birmingham Iron (3-1)
Final Score: Commanders 12, Iron 11
Recap: If you turned to the AAF because you were let down by the lack of offense in Super Bowl 53, then this was the wrong game for you. San Antonio fans may feel comforted by the impressive defensive performance, which included two picks and a couple more dropped passes, but they may be starting to sweat because, after four games, the offense still struggles with production. Trey Williams’ promising debut was followed by a quiet performance, although he tacked on the Commanders’ only touchdown, and it was only quiet because Kenneth Farrow was a nightmare to the Iron defense. Still, the defense bailed out the offense and earned them another week to figure things out as they hit the road again next week to take on the Hotshots.
Birmingham’s undefeated streak came to a screeching halt as the Iron, too, failed to get anything going on offense. While Perez had just over 200 yards, he also caused two turnovers and missed more throws than he made. Even star RB Trent Richardson could not get the running game going, unable to get even two yards per carry; Brandon Ross had more success carrying the football in his first game with the Iron this season. Like their opponents, however, fans can at least have hope in the defense, because for the 4th straight week they’ve held their opponents to 12 points or less. They will face a tougher test next week as Orlando, the offensive juggernaut, comes to town, but if their offense gets back on their feet, the Iron can certainly get back in the win column.
San Antonio Commanders
Logan Woodside (QB): 11/25, 106 Passing yds, 4.2 YPA, 5 Rush att, -6 rush yds.
Kenneth Farrow II (RB): 30 rush, 142 yds, 4.7 YPC,1 rec. on 2 targets, 3 rec. yds.
Greg Ward Jr. (WR): 2 Receptions on 5 targets, 24 rec. Yds, 12 YPC.
Derron Smith (Defense): 6 tackles (6 Solo), 1 PD.
Luis Perez (QB): 19/39, 202 Passing yds, 5.2 YPA, 2 INT, 1 Pass 2-Pt, 2 Rush att, 3 rush yds.
Brandon Ross (RB): 9 rush, 64 yds, 7.1 YPC, 1 rec. on 1 target, 2 yds.
Wes Saxton Jr. (TE): 3 Receptions on 3 targets, 54 rec. Yds, 18 YPC.
Beniquez Brown (Defense): 7 tackles (7 Solo), 1 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits.
Written by: Kristen Mori
Atlanta Legends (1-3) at Arizona Hotshots (2-2)
Final Score: Legends 14, Arizona 11
Recap: We have an Aaron Murray sighting and an Atlanta victory! The backup quarterback came in following a hand injury to starter Matt Simms, and the team appeared to be more in unison than they’ve ever been since the season started. Redzone problems still exist, but the team was able to score against Arizona inside the 20 this contest. The Legends defense also stepped up in big situations, converting the AAF’s first safety (with some assistance) and also preventing Arizona from winning the game at the end. Right now, the MVP in scoring is kicker Younghoe Koo, because that dude is money in this league for Atlanta. The remainder of the season is still tough, and barring a massive Birmingham/Orlando collapse, playoffs might not be an option in the East division, but getting that first win in team history is so sweet; it just remains to be seen how they’ll respond.
Arizona has turned into a completely different team these last two weeks. After thoroughly laying the hammer on Salt Lake in Week One, they barely squeaked by Memphis before being defeated by the Stallions and the Legends. Offensively, the Hotshots have enough firepower to compete with every other team in the league, but their defensive inefficiencies are very obvious to the naked eye. Currently, at 2-2, Arizona is still tied for first in the West Division, which means it’s anyone’s guess who’s going to be the division winner. That said, if Arizona is unable to fix their errors quickly, they will not be playing for the chance to make it to the AAF title game.
Aaron Murray (QB): 20/33, 254 yds, 7.7 YPA, 7 Rush att, 54 rush yds.
Denard Robinson (RB): 9 rush, 43 yds, 4.8 YPC, TD.
Tarean Folston (RB): 5 rush, 21 yds, 4.2 YPC, 5 Receptions on 7 targets, 66 rec. yds.
Ed Reynolds (S): 8 tackles (8 solo), 2 TFL.
John Wolford (QB): 17/31, 185 yds, 1 Pass TD, 1 Pass 2-PT. conversion, 3 Rush att, 14 rush yds
Jhurell Pressley (RB): 14 rush, 110 yds, 7.9 YPC, 4 rec. on 5 targets, 13 yds, TD
Rashad Ross (WR): 4 Receptions on 6 targets, 74 yds, 18.5 YPC, 1 TD.
Eric Dargan (Defense): 11 tackles (11 solo), 1 TFL.
Written by: Joe Carlino