The Orlando Apollos, coached by Steve Spurrier, and Birmingham Iron, led by RB Trent Richardson, go into Week 4 of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) season as the only two teams without a loss. If the two teams can win this week, they will have a showdown in Birmingham on March 9th.
Birmingham Iron 28, Atlanta Legends 12
The Iron spoiled Atlanta’s home opener as running back Trent Richardson scored three touchdowns and the Iron defense clamped down on the Legends’ offense in the second half. The Legends had their chances in the first half with 2o plays in the red zone but could only gain 20 yards. The Legends rallied late for 154 yards on their final three possessions which included the league’s first onside conversion with a 48-yard pass completion from Matt Simms to Seantavius Jones.
San Diego Fleet 31, San Antonio Commanders 11
The Fleet claimed their second win of the season behind RB Ja’Quan Gardner’s 122 yards on 12 carries, including the longest play in Alliance history with his 83-yard touchdown run. The Fleet ran for 202 yards as a team in the 31-11 win over The San Antonio Commanders. Fleet QB Philip Nelson threw the first two touchdowns of his career – both to WR Nelson Spruce. The Fleet defense stopped the Commanders attack with five sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown by LB AJ Tarpley.
Salt Lake Stallions 23, Arizona Hotshots 15
Salt Lake QB Josh Woodrum was 22 of 31 for 178 yards and a touchdown to lead the Stallions to their first win in franchise history. RB Branden Oliver and RB Joel Bouagnon continued the Stallions’ one-two punch where the duo rushed for 85 combined yards against Arizona. Both Oliver and Bouagnon had a rushing touchdown.
Orlando Apollos 21, Memphis Express 17
Orlando QB Garrett Gilbert completed 14 of 28 passes for 207 yards, which included a 37-yard touchdown to wide receiver Rannell Hall with 6:28 remaining in the third quarter that extended the Apollos’ lead to 15-6. Gilbert also rushed for 43 yards on seven attempts. The story of the game was the play of Express quarterback Zach Mettenberger. After a first half in which starter Christian Hackenberg completed 8 of 14 passes for 88 yards with two interceptions and a 36.3 passer rating, Mettenberger entered the game at the start of the second half with Memphis trailing, 9-0. He immediately led the Express down the field on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Devin Lucien. In the fourth quarter, a seven-play, 75-yard drive ended with a 40-yard scoring pass from Mettenberger to wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard. A two-point pass to running back Anthony Manzo-Lewis made the score 21-17 with 5:32 to play. However, the Express never saw the ball again as five Orlando running plays netted 62 yards prior to three kneeldowns to conclude the game. Mettenberger completed 9 of 12 passes for 120 yards, the two touchdowns and a 145.8 passer rating.
News and Notes:
- Offensive player of the week: San Diego RB Ja’Quan Gardner. Gardner rushed 12 times for an Alliance single-game record 122 yards (10.2 yards per carry) and one touchdown in the Fleet’s 31-11 win last week. Gardner’s day was highlighted by an 83-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, the longest rush in Alliance history, as he became the first player with back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances (104 yards in week two).
- Defensive player of the week: San Diego LB A.J. Tarpley. Tarpley tied for second on the team with five tackles and had a 27-yard interception return-touchdown, which proved to be the game-winning score, in San Diego’s second consecutive home win.
- Special teams player of the week: Birmingham P Colton Schmidt. Schmidt punted five times for a 49.2-yard gross average with a long of 57 yards in the Iron’s 28-12 week three victory. Schmidt placed three of his five punts inside the 20 last week, tied for the most such punts in a single game in Alliance history, while helping Birmingham control field position throughout the day.
- AAF’s Week Three games on NFL Network had significantly increased ratings over Week Two. The official numbers, first reported by SportsTVRatings.com, show that the Saturday night game generated an average audience of 491,000, up from 424,000 in Week Two. On Sunday night, the prime-time game drew an average crowd of 515,000, a 90,000 viewer increase from Week Two’s comparable crowd of 425,000.
- The AAF and founder Charlie Ebersol are facing a lawsuit from Robert Vanech, who claims he came up with the idea for the league, according to a report by Action Network’s Darren Rovell. Vanech, a venture capitalist based out of Los Angeles, claims to have had a “handshake agreement” entitling him to 50 percent ownership of the league, according to the report. The AAF issued a statement in response to Vanech’s claims: “Mr. Vanech’s claim is without merit,” the statement said. “There was never any agreement, oral or written, between Mr. Vanech and Mr. Ebersol relating to The Alliance. We remain focused solely on our historic, inaugural season when each weekend over 400 players get an opportunity to showcase their talents and fulfill their dreams of playing professional football.”
- AAF Attendance figures:
- San Antonio (28,625)
- Orlando (20,292)
- San Diego (17,404)
- Birmingham (17,179)
- Memphis (11,980)
- Arizona (11,751)
- Atlanta (10,717)
- Salt Lake (10,412)
Week 3 Standings:
- Orlando Apollos (3-0)
- Birmingham Iron (3-0)
- Memphis Express (0-3)
- Atlanta Legends (0-3)
- San Diego Fleet (2-1)
- Arizona Hotshots (2-1)
- San Antonio Commanders (1-2)
- Salt Lake Stallions (1-2)
Week 4 Schedule:
- San Diego at Memphis
- Orlando at Salt Lake
- San Antonio at Birmingham
- Atlanta at Arizona