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Orlando Apollos (7-1) at Memphis Express (2-6)
Final Score: Orlando Apollos 34, Memphis Express 31
Recap: The Apollos survived an upset effort by the Express in a wild game that featured sloppy special teams play, turnovers (some missed), and a host of penalties (25) which saw both teams finish with over 100 penalty yards. Garrett Gilbert had an uneven performance where he uncorked another 300-yard passing game and multiple touchdowns, but he also tossed two interceptions and could have had a few more if not for penalties. Also, he was on the resulting end of a strip sack that resulted in a TD. D’Ernest Johnson had a nice game that showed off his versatility as a runner and pass catcher, and the alpha WR of the AAF. Charles Johnson accrued another 100 yard, 1 TD effort. The Apollos defense was aggressive and had a number of key contributors step up big from all three levels of the defense, with Will Hill III, Earl Okine, and Terence Garvin chipping in.
Memphis had a real shot at unseating one of the best teams in the AAF this past weekend if they could have just played a little more disciplined throughout, but this has been a recurring theme throughout this season and a huge reason why the Express are eliminated from postseason consideration. With all the hoopla of Johnny Manziel coming to town, it has been an impressive showing of Brandon Silvers that has kept the Express in the last two games. He has shown terrific poise, arm talent, and aggressiveness that should not be lost to the fans. As for Manziel, he saw limited action and then exited due to a head injury. There were a number of questionable rulings and penalties, but we are going to focus strictly on the players and their impact on the game, like an uncharacteristic drop/ gag reel bobble from Punter Ryan Winslow that ultimately was too much for the team to overcome. The offense saw a few WRs step up to help offset the loss of Reece Horn, and Dontez Byrd and Gerrard Sheppard made a number of nice catches, including a beautiful back-shoulder catch for a TD by Byrd. On defense, the story of the last two weeks has been none other than DeMarquis Gates, who has been playing at an elite level both as both a run stuffer and as a playmaker with forcing turnovers.
Garrett Gilbert (QB): 22/40, 310 Passing yds, 7.8 YPA, 2 Pass TD, 2 INT, 1 Pass 2-Pt, 1 Rush att, -1 rush yds.
D’Ernest Johnson (RB): 5 rush, 24 yds, 4.8 YPC, 1 TD, 1 Rush 2-PT, 6 rec. on 9 targets, 38 rec. yds.
Charles Johnson (WR): 8 Receptions on 12 targets, 135 rec. yds, 1 TD.
Earl Okine (DE): 1 tackle (1 Solo), 1 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits, 1 PD, 1 INT.
Brandon Silvers (QB): 30/49, 269 Passing yds, 5.5 YPA, 1 Pass TD, 1 INT, 2 Pass 2-Pt, 2 Rush att, 16 rush yds.
Terrence Magee (RB): 9 rush, 39 yds, 4.3 YPC, 1 TD, 3 rec. on 7 targets, 12 rec. yds.
Dontez Byrd (WR): 5 Receptions on 7 targets, 52 rec. yds, 1 TD, 1 2PT.
DeMarquis Gates (LB): 6 tackles (5 Solo), 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QB Hits, 1 PD, 1 FF.
Written by: Roy Countryman
San Diego Fleet (3-5) at Salt Lake Stallions (3-5)
Final Score: Stallions 8, Fleet 6
Recap: The score of this game does not reflect how dominant the Stallions were. Though they struggled to move the ball downfield, Schult, Siliga, Purcell and the rest of the Stallions defensive lineman absolutely dominated the Fleet offensive lineman. The Stallions had to grind the game out, because QB Josh Woodrum could not get into a rhythm against the Fleet secondary. He only managed 155 passing yards and threw 2 interceptions to Fleet CB Ryan Moeller. Luckily the Stallions were able to get an early lead and run the clock out with their RBs Tanner Ward and Joel Bouagnon who accumulated 33 rushes, 92 yards, and a touchdown between the two of them.
The Fleet could not move the ball against the Stallions tough defense. HC Mike Martz is missing his deep ball threat in Dontez Ford and needs another perimeter WR to step up. QB Mike Bercovici could not sustain drives only picking up 3 of their 15 third-down attempts. The strangest part of the Fleet’s offense was, that they abandoned their RB committee in favor of Bishop Sankey who was a healthy scratch through first few weeks of the season. Although the Fleet defense put their offense in great field position, the Fleet’s offense could not do much with it settling for a K Donny Hagerman field goal as their only points for the entire game. The Fleet will need to find a way to move the ball if they even want a chance to claw back into playoff contention.
Salt Lake Stallions
Josh Woodrum(QB): 21/32, 155 Passing yds, 4.8 YPA, 2 INT, 3 Rush att, 4 rush yds.
Joel Bouagnon(RB): 15 rush, 45 yds, 3 YPC, 1 TD, 1rec. on 1 target, 11 yds.
Anthony Denham(TE): 4 Receptions on 6 targets, 32 rec. yds.
Steve Williams(CB): 2 tackles (2 Solo), 3 PD, 1 INT.
San Diego Fleet
Mike Bercovici (QB): 22/47, 210 Passing yds, 4.5 YPA, 2 INT.
Nelson Spruce (WR): 8 Receptions on 16 target, 79 rec. yds.
Damontre Moore (DE): 3 tackles (3 Solo), 2 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits.
Ryan Moeller (S): 2 tackles (2 Solo), 2 PD, 2 INT, 1 FR.
Written by: David Connors @connors_david
Atlanta Legends (2-6) at Birmingham Iron (5-3)
Final Score: Birmingham 17, Atlanta 9
Recap: A low-scoring affair saw Birmingham’s defense do just enough to clinch the second and final playoff spot in the East division. Luis Perez had a quiet 65 yards passing in this contest, but Trent Richardson found enough holes to score the games only offensive touchdown. Despite playing one of the weaker organizations in the AAF, the Iron were on high alert throughout, as one mistake could’ve easily brought the Legends back into the fold. When mentioning the defense, it was their performance in the fourth quarter which stood out, as they prevented the Legends from scoring on fourth down from their 3-yard-line and forced two turnovers, a fumble and an interception to seal both squad’s fates.
A promising early-season winning streak feels like a distant afterthought now, as this loss eliminated the Legends from postseason contention. Matt Simms tried his best to keep his squad in the game, and he did a pretty decent job. However, he was plagued in the final quarter by a failed QB sneak and an interception. His defense performed about as good as they’ve done all season, holding a powerhouse opponent to a lower score than they’ve averaged all season. Atlanta now looks toward the future of the league, and maybe Year Two will be their time to shine. For now, though, they must look up at Birmingham and Orlando, because one of them will represent their division in Frisco, Texas on April 27.
Luis Perez (QB): 10/24, 65 yds, Pass 2-PT.
Trent Richardson (RB): 18 rush, 83 yds, 4.6 YPC, TD
Wes Saxton (WR): 3 Receptions, 36 yds
Matt Simms (QB): 13/22, 135 yds, INT
Brandon Radcliff (RB): 6 rush, 30 yds, 5.0 YPC
Justin Thomas (WR): 4 Receptions, 74 yds
Written by: Joe Carlino
Arizona Hotshots (5-3) at San Antonio Commanders (5-3)
Final Score: Hotshots 23, Commanders 6
Recap: This game was all Hotshots from the first offensive possession. Arizona got on the board first, courtesy of a 58-yard touchdown pass from John Wolford to Rashad Ross. Wolford continued to have a solid day from there, throwing for 216 yards, one touchdown, and a two-point conversion. Ross was his leading receiver with four receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. They also benefited from two touchdown runs by running back Tim Cook. With the win, the Hotshots improve to 5-3 on the season, tying the Commanders at the top of the West division.
As you can see from the score, San Antonio struggled in this one. Quarterback Logan Woodside was replaced in the second quarter by Marquise Williams after throwing only four completions for 32 yards and an interception. Williams came in and threw for 130 yards but no touchdowns. The only point in the game came on two field goals by Nick Rose. Unfortunately, this shakes the playoff picture for the Commanders as they are now in a tie with Arizona for the top spot in the West.
John Wolford (QB): 17/23, 216 Passing yds, 9.4 YPA, 1 Pass TD, 1 Pass 2-Pt, 5 Rush att, 3 rush yds
Tim Cook (RB): 3 rush, 30 yds, 10 YPC, 2 TD
Rashad Ross (WR): 4 Receptions on 7 targets, 78 rec. yds, 1 TD
Rykeem Yates (DE): 3 tackles (3 Solo), 1 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 QB Hits
San Antonio Commanders
Marquise Williams (QB): 17/23, 130 Passing yds, 5.7 YPA,7 Rush att, 36 rush yds
David Cobb (RB): 9 rush, 59 yds, 6.6 YPC, 1 rec. on 1 target, 6 yds
Greg Ward (WR): 5 Receptions on 8 targets, 48 rec. yds
Jayrone Elliott (LB): 4 tackles (4 Solo), 1 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits
Written by: Ryan Lippert