Time for an exciting Week 4 of the AAF. This is where it gets interesting. The teams know the opposition. They know who they are. It is crunch time.
Week 4 kicks off with a huge matchup between the San Diego Fleet and the Memphis Express. San Diego got off to a dominating start with the first ever punt return in the AAF by Ron Brooks to get the Fleet up by 6. For the Fleet, they continue to apply pressure to the Express with a huge 50-yard pass from Phillip Nelson to Dontez Ford getting them in the red zone. The same drive Nelson connects with Ford for the Fleets second TD of the game.
Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Fleet are forced to make a change at QB with Nelson leaving the game due to a shoulder injury. The Fleet then put in third string Alex Ross who makes an absolute statement with a 30-yard TD pass to Marcus Baugh increasing the lead 20-6. For the Express, their first game-changing play comes from interception by Drew Jackson giving his team some hope outside of special teams. The Express continues the momentum with new starting QB Zach Mettenberger who slings it to Alton Howard 30 yards just outside the end zone. Mettenberger then performs an excellent sneak for 6 points just as the clock ticks down the final seconds of the first half.
Come the second half the Express defence continues the dominance with a huge hit on Jackson by an unaware Ja’Quan Gardner for a loss and continue to shut down the Fleet offence the entire quarter. In the fourth, Ross takes a huge sack by Express lineman Latarius Brady forcing a punt deep inside the Fleets side of the field. Halfway through the last quarter, Alex Ross’ throw is knocked by Corey Vereen and forced into a fumble that is picked up by Express DB Arnold Tarpley. Mettenberger then takes advantage of tossing a touchdown into the hands of Terrence Magee for the last TD of the game.
Final Score San Diego Fleet – 23 Memphis Express – 26.
MVP of the game. Memphis Express QB Zach Mettenberger with 18 completions, 174 passing yards, and 2 TDs.
The second game for the week an icy one between the Orlando Apollos and the Salt Lake Stallions. The first take away for the Apollos, Garret Gilbert is the top passer in the league for a reason, his dual-threat ability. So far, the game had only been chip shot field goals however, the most impressive one so far was a 42 yarder by Apollos K Elliot Fry splitting the uprights in the snow, to leave the score at 6-3 Apollos way. The first TD of the game comes from a precise pass by Gilbert connecting with Donteea Dye on a 20-yard pass into the end zone. For the extra points, the Apollos pull off their own Philly special to extend the lead to 14-3. For the Stallions, they felt it was time to respond and they did so on the legs of Joel Bouagnon to get them on the board. The 2-point conversion is successful with a dime pass from Josh Woodrum to make it a 3-point game. The next TD comes early in the fourth with a short run by Akeem Hunt to extend the lead once again for the Apollos.
Final Score. Orlando Apollos – 20 Salt Lake Stallions – 11.
MVP of the game. Orlando Apollos QB Garret Gilbert with 244 yards 1 TD and still 0 interceptions.
The third instalment of the week was a matchup between the Birmingham Iron and the San Antonio Commanders. The game gets off to a very slow start pointwise with the first coming from an FG by a precise Nick Rose from 39 yards out. Closing out the half, the Iron tied the game with a solid kick from Nick Kovak. Finally, in the third Iron QB, Luis Perez makes a huge 22-yard pass to Wes Saxton in the middle of the field before the Commanders’ defence ensure no extra yardage is gained. On the same drive, Perez throws the first interception to Zack Sanchez, completely missing DeVozea Felton.
From that, Commanders lead the charge with an impactful run from Kenneth Farrow gaining 20 yards. The first TD of the game came on the same drive this time from Trey Williams getting them 6 points on the ground. Finally, just after the 2-minute warning league rushing TD leader Trent Richardson adds another to his list getting his team back in the game, with massive help from a successful 2 point conversion. The score sits at 12-11 Commanders way with 1:41 left on the clock. This gives the Iron a shot at the AAF’s version of an onside recover which was intercepted by Orion Stewart.
Final score San Antonio Commanders – 12 Birmingham Iron – 11
MVP of Game. San Antonio Commanders RB Kenneth Farrow with 142 yards rushing on 30 attempts.
Finally, it’s time for the Hotshots Hot Take. This time the Hotshots come off a loss but look to bounce back with a massive win against the Atlanta legends. The Legends got off to a huge start with three plays and three first downs making an absolute statement. A massive sack on Matt Simms by Hotshots Carl Bradford slowed that momentum. Fellow Hotshot Will Sutton recovered the resulting fumble. The Hotshots, unfortunately, could not continue the momentum and were forced into an early punt.
The Legends fans were then treated to what they’ve wanted all season, Matt Simms exited due to an injury and replaced by 2nd string QB Aaron Murray. Murray makes the most of his time on the gridiron by driving his team into the red zone. The drive ends up being a familiar sight for the Legends by not going for 3 and being forced to a turnover on downs. Once Murray has possession again, he turns it back up to 11 with a deep pass to Bug Howard for 37 yards. The first points of the game come just at the end of the 1st, with a safety by Ed Reynolds on Hotshots star Reshad Ross who ran back into his own end zone to give the Legends an easy 2 points.
The beginning of the second gets off to a great start again for the Legends, until they attempted a fake on the FG with Younghoe Koo, who was then demolished by Scooby Wright, keeping Arizona in the game. The first TD of the game is massive run by Atlanta RB Denard Robinson to extend the lead to 8-0. For the third quarter, each team looked very promising at the beginning of their respective drives but always ending in a punt.
It is not until the 4th quarter that the Legends pull the plug and let Koo nail one through the uprights to make the score 11-3. To respond Hotshots QB Wolford throws it to Ross for 26 yards to get some momentum. Much like the third quarter the drive fizzles out and ends in no points. Midway through the final quarter, Wolford connects with none other than Ross for 6 points on a 20-yard pass, Wolford then throws to Marquis Bundy for the conversion to tie the game at 11 each. At the 1:07 mark on the clock, Atlanta takes the lead with an FG from Koo. For the Hotshots, they fail to get back within field goal range and are unable to score again.
Final Score. Atlanta Legends – 14 Arizona Hotshots – 11.
MVP of the game. Atlanta Legends QB Aaron Murray with 20 completions for 254 yards and the leading rusher of the game with 54 yards on seven attempts.
MVP of the week. Kenneth Farrow
Overview for the week.
1. Teams need to understand you can punt on 4th down.
2. The running game by all teams this week was impressive.
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