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Orlando Apollos (6-1) at Atlanta Legends (2-5)
Final Score: Orlando 36, Atlanta 6
Recap: The Apollos continue to dominate, making history as the first AAF squad to clinch a berth in the postseason. Garrett Gilbert continues his stretch to be the AAF’s inaugural player of the year, throwing for 217 yards and leading Orlando to another dominant victory over a divisional opponent. His defense also stepped up in this contest, intercepting the Legends twice, one of which was returned 65 yards by Deji Olatoye for the final score. With only three weeks left until the regular season concludes, the Apollos hold a 2.5 game lead over the Birmingham Iron in the East division. A win next week would almost guarantee they’ll host on April 21.
After a short winning streak that gave fans a glimmer of hope, Atlanta has once again gone off the rails in their first season. Granted, it was against the AAF’s juggernaut, but this game brought back eerie memories of the Week One matchup, where Orlando held the Legends to only six points while scoring 40 and constantly stymying Legends quarterbacks. Aaron Murray was benched late for Matt Simms following a 2 INT performance, and with Birmingham and Orlando looking like the two squads to fight to represent the East division, Atlanta’s first campaign is almost over. However, if there’s one glimmer of hope for Legends fans, they know that “HotLanta” and their teams never give up or quit, no matter what the circumstances.
Garrett Gilbert (QB): 19/23, 217 yds, 9.4 YPA, 1 TD, Rush 2-PT.
D’Ernest Johnson (RB): 7 rush, 54 yds, 7.7 YPC, Rush 2-PT, 2 rec. on 2 targets, 27 yds.
Charles Johnson (WR): 4 Receptions on 5 targets, 31 rec. yds, TD.
Deji Olatoye (CB): 3 tackles (3 Solo), PD, 65-yd INT for TD.
Aaron Murray (QB): 16/22, 135 yds, 6.1 YPA, 1 TD, 2 INTs.
Tarean Folston (RB): 8 rush, 37 yds, 4.6 YPC, 2 rec. on 2 targets, 19 yds.
Malachi Jones (WR): 6 Receptions on 7 targets, 53 yds, TD.
Khalil Bass (OLB): 8 tackles (5 Solo), 2 TFL.
Written by: Joe Carlino
Salt Lake Stallions (2-5) at San Antonio Commanders (5-2)
Final Score: Commanders 19, Stallions 15
The Stallions just can’t seem to get out of their own way! After yet another game riddled with mental errors, fumbles, and costly interceptions… Salt Lake is now sitting at 2-5, with four of those losses coming down to one score or less. The Commanders, on the other hand, are riding high after not only winning their 4th straight and remaining in first place of the AAF’s Western Conference but also set the league’s attendance record with 30,345. Regardless of the outcome or amount of fans in San Antonio, it was a thriller of a back and forth matchup that featured dominant defenses, big plays, and a crazy final two minutes.
After three quarters of back and forth action in the books, the Commanders replaced starting QB Logan Woodside with the mobile Marquise Williams late in the game. Williams went 2 of 3 for 49 yards through the air, adding another 20 yards rushing and a passing TD on his one and only drive. With two minutes to go, the Stallions’ QB Josh Woodrum drove his team the length of the field; throwing a perfectly placed TD pass to RB Terrell Newby on a wheel route and bringing his team within a two-point conversion from overtime. Sadly, Woodrum would follow up his dime touchdown pass with a boneheaded pick-2 game-sealing interception that was taken from endzone to endzone by San Antonio DB De'Vante Bausby.
Josh Woodrum once again had a tremendous 4th quarter comeback spoiled for the second week in a row. Defensively, the Stallions have wreaked havoc on opposing QB’s all season, totaling 6 sacks on Sunday, and leading the league through seven games. SL running back Joel Bouagnon fumbled on multiple occasions and oddly without even being touched, contributing to the team’s 4 total fumbles on the day. Logan Woodside had a decent outing but it was the late coming of Marquise Williams and his athletic spark added to the offense that won San Antonio the game.
San Antonio Commanders
Logan Woodside (QB): 13/19, 164 passing yds, 8.6 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT, 0 2-PT
Trey Williams (RB): 6 rushes, 19 yds 3.2 YPC
Evan Rodriguez (TE): 3 receptions on 3 targets, 71 rec. yds
De'Vante Bausby (DB): 3 tackles (3 Solo),1 PB, 1 INT, 2-PT INT Return
Salt Lake City Stallions
Josh Woodrum (QB): 22/35, 229 yds, 6.5 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT
Joel Bouagnon (RB): 9 Att, 35 yds, 3.9 YPC
Nick Truesdell (TE): 4 catches of 5 targets, 74 yds
Trevor Reilly (LB): 5 tackles (5 solo), 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QB Hit
Written by: Jack Bourgeois
San Diego Fleet (3-4) vs. Arizona Hotshots (4-3)
Final Score: Hotshots 32, Fleet 15
Recap: Out in the desert of Tempe, Arizona, the Hotshots were fresh off their huge upset over AAF juggernaut Orlando Apollos and then had to host the Fleet for an AAF game with serious playoff implications. Both teams started the game strong as they traded blows in the first quarter, however, about midway through the 2nd quarter, the Hotshots took over the game and never looked back. Hotshot QB John Walford used his arm and legs to execute HC Rick Neuheisel’s RPO offense perfectly. The defense had no idea what was coming and was too slow to react. Walford’s offensive line did an incredible job containing a Fleet pass rush that includes Demontre Moore and Shakir Soto. They contained them to only one sack the entire game.
As well as the offense was clicking, the Arizona defense was on a level of its own. The linebackers were flying to the ball not allowing the run game to develop. The Hotshots did a great job keeping everything and front of them and not allowing Fleet HC Mike Martz to execute his offense. Nyles Morgan and company contained the Fleet RBs which allowed the Hotshots defense to keep their coverage back and not allow the big plays. This coverage eventually led the Fleet QB Mike Bercovici to throw 2 interceptions. The Hotshots dominated both sides of the ball and placed themselves securely in the driver seat for one of the playoff spots in the West Conference.
John Walford(QB): 15/19, 212 Passing yds, 113 YPA, 2 Pass TD, 1 INTt, 5 Rush att, 44 rush yds, 1 TD.
Jhurrel Pressley(RB): 15 rush, 64 yds, 4.3 YPC, 1 rec. on 1target, 13 yds.
Shaquille Richardson (CB): 8 tackles (8 solo), 2 PD, 1 INT, 1 FF.
Steven Johnson (LB): 7 tackles (7 solo) 1 PD, 1 INT
San Diego Fleet
Mike Bercovici(QB): 22/43, 312 Passing yds, 7.2 YPA, 1 Pass TD, 2 INT, 2 Rush att, 8 rush yds.
Terrell Watson(RB): 10 rush, 44 yds, 4.4 YPC, 1 TD, 2rec. on 4 target, 49 yds.
Nelson Spruce (WR): 12 Receptions on 14 targets, 146 rec. yds.
Demontra Moore (Edge Rusher): 4 tackles (4 Solo), 1 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits, 1 PD.
Written by: David Connors @connors_david
Birmingham Iron (4-3) at Memphis Express (2-5)
Final Score: Memphis Express 31, Birmingham Iron 25
The Great Iron Meltdown
On Sunday, March 24, 2019, the Birmingham Iron experienced the “smelting” of the Iron’s steel defense. The Memphis Express slowly wore the defense down in the fourth quarter to pull off an upset win at home in overtime 31-25. Memphis got an emotional boost from newly acquired quarterback Johnny Manziel from free agency. Manziel was able to provide the Express with a dual threat that the Iron did not experience in their first meeting.
The Iron controlled the pace and flow of the game for three quarters leading 19-8 with only 8 minutes remaining. Luis Perez passed for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns and without turning the ball over. Trent Richardson rushed 56 yards and a touchdown to provide the balanced attack that all Iron fans have been waiting to see. The stage was set for Birmingham to get closer to clinching a playoff spot that is until 4 minutes in the 3rd quarter DB Terrell Bonds returned a blocked punt by DeMarquis Gates for a 68-yard TD to change the momentum.
The Iron responded with an impressive drive following the turnover to spread the deficit to an 11-point lead in the 4th quarter 25 -14. However, costly penalties and the combination of Brandon Silvers who passed for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns and Johnny Manziel’s debut line of 3-5 48 yards passing and 20 yards rushing slowly melted down the tough Iron defense.
The Iron falls to 4-3 overall and the Memphis Express keep their playoff hopes alive by improving to 2-5. The Iron will return home next week to take on the Atlanta Legends at Legion Field on March 31st.
Brandon Silvers (QB): 24/35, 266 Passing yds, 7.6 YPA, 2 Pass TD, 1 Rush att,3 rush yds.
Zac Stacy (RB): 13 carries, 14 rush, yds, 1.1 YPC, TD, 3 rec. On 3 targets, 24 yds.
Reece Horn (WR): 7 Receptions on 9 targets, 113 rec. yds 1 TD 1 2PT.
DeMarquis Gates (Defense): 7 tackles (6 Solo), 1 Blk punt return for TD.
Luis Perez (QB): 16/37, 235 Passing yds, 6.4 YPA, 2 Pass TD, 7 Rush att, 27 rush yds.
Trent Richardson (RB):16 carries, 56 rush, yds, 3.5 YPC, 1TD,2 Rush 2-PT, 3 rec. 25 yds.
Amba Etta-Tawo (WR): 3 Receptions on 4 targets, 71 rec. yds.
Beniquez Brown (Defense): 7 tackles (7 Solo), 1 TFL.
Written by: Andrae’ Perry