AAF Week 7: First Overtime & First Playoff Spot Clinched

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John Wolford Leads Arizona To A Big Win

Week 7 of the first season of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) had a little bit of everything.  Just when you thought you had seen all the first of the new league, this week gave us a few more.

ORLANDO APOLLOS 36, ATLANTA LEGENDS 6

Led by running back De’Veon Smith’s three rushing touchdowns, Orlando beat the Atlanta Legends to clinch the first spot in the Eastern Conference championship game.  Any hope of a close game disappeared in the second half, when Atlanta turned the ball over twice to end promising drives. The first came in the third quarter, when Apollos cornerback Deji Olatoye intercepted a pass from Legends quarterback Aaron Murray and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown to give Orlando a commanding 28-6 lead.  Murray threw another interception on the Legends’ next possession, to cornerback Cody Riggs at the Apollos’ goal line.  Garrett Gilbert added a touchdown pass to wide receiver Charles Johnson in the fourth quarter.

Next:

  • Orlando at Memphis
  • Atlanta at Birmingham

MEMPHIS EXPRESS 31, BIRMINGHAM 25 (ot)

With all the hype surrounding the signing of Johnny Manziel, it was Memphis Quarterback Brandon Silvers who led the Express to their second win of the season Sunday night against the Birmingham Iron in the first overtime game in AAF history.  Silvers went 24-for-35 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner to wide receiver Dan Williams on a 10-yard slant in overtime.  The Memphis Express scored the final 17 points of the game after trailing 25-14 with 9:01 left in regulation. The performance of Silvers, the Express defense getting pressure on Iron quarterback Luis Perez and big plays on special teams carried Memphis to its second win of the season.  The momentum of the game started to change late in the third quarter when DeMarquis Gates blocked an Iron punt and defensive back Terrell Bonds ran it back 50 yards for the touchdown. It was the first blocked punt and blocked punt touchdown in the history of The Alliance.

Next:

  • Memphis will host Orlando
  • Birmingham will host Atlanta

SAN ANOTNIO COMMANDERS 19, SALT LAKE STALLIONS 15

Trey Williams’ 36-yard touchdown reception and Greg Ward Jr.’s two-point conversion catch with less than six minutes left gave San Antonio the win over Salt Lake in front of an Alliance-record 30,345 fans at the Alamodome. Williams took a short pass from reserve quarterback Marquise Williams – who entered the game in the fourth quarter for injured starter Logan Woodside – sprinted down the right sideline and leaped into the end zone for the go-ahead score. Marquise Williams then found Ward Jr. for a successful two-point conversion to put San Antonio up 17-9 with 5:29 left to play. On the ensuing possession, the Stallions drove 75 yards to make it a two-point contest after Terrell Newby’s 21-yard TD reception from Josh Woodrum on the first play following the two-minute warning. Salt Lake had a chance to tie the score on the two-point try but De’Vante Bausby stepped in front of Woodrum’s pass in the left flat and returned it untouched to make it 19-15.

Next:

  • San Antonio hosts Arizona
  • Salt Lake hosts San Diego

ARIZONA HOTSHOTS 32, SAN DIEGO FLEET 15

Behind Hotshots quarterback John Wolford, Arizona emerged from a back-and-forth first half with a slight lead and pulled away with a fourth-quarter surge to defeat San Diego, 32-15, on Sunday afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium. The victory pushed the Hotshots (4-3) into second place in the Western Conference — a game behind San Antonio (5-2) — and into fourth place in the league with four postseason spots up for grabs. San Diego felWolford completed an efficient 15 of 19 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns to one pick, while adding 44 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Rashad Ross, a stellar receiver all season for Arizona, had three catches for 53 yards.

Next:

  • Arizona at San Antonio
  • San Diego at Salt Lake

AAF STANDINGS:

Eastern Conference

  • Orlando Apollos (6-1)
  • Birmingham Iron (4-3)
  • Memphis Express (2-5)
  • Atlanta Legends (2-5)

Western Conference

  • San Antonio Commanders (5-2)
  • Arizona Hotshots (4-3)
  • San Diego Fleet (3-4)
  • Salt Lake Stallions (2-5)

AAF NEWS AND NOTES:

  • The AFF is moving its championship game from Las Vegas to Frisco, Texas. The new eight-team spring league said last week that the April 27 title game will switch to The Ford Center at the Star, which is owned by Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys and is the indoor practice arena for the team.
  • Johnny Manziel’s first game in the AAF with the Memphis Express drew solid TV ratings. Over 250,000 tuned in for Manziel’s game against the Birmingham Iron on the NFL Network. Johnny Football slung it for 48 yards and rushed for 20 yards coming in off the bench in the winning effort for Memphis.
  • Tom Dundon, who just injected $250 million into the Alliance in February. Speaking with USA Today Sports, Dundon, the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, said the start-up league could be in danger of folding without the cooperation of the NFLPA in acquiring young talent. “If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a development league,” Dundon said. “We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.”

 

Orlando Suffers First Loss In AAF

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Hotshots Bring Down Apollos in Week 6

Through five weeks into the inaugural season of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), it looked like Steve Spurrier’s Orlando Apollos were unbeatable.  In week 6 they were beaten.  Here’s a recap of the games from Week 6:

Arizona Hotshots 22, Orlando Apollos 17

The Hotshots reminded the Apollos that no one was perfect as they held the Apollos to a season-low 17 points as the offense never really got on track.   The Hotshots were the ones calling the shots on offense, especially on the ground.  Tim Cook had 11 carries for 71 yards, Jhurell Pressley ran for 57 yards and Justin Stockton added 37 yards which wore down the Apollos’ defensive line while controlling the line-of-scrimmage.  Arizona was 2-of-2 in the red zone.  The win snaps the Hotshots’ three game losing streak.

Next:  Orlando plays at Atlanta, Arizona hosts San Diego.

Salt Lake 22, Memphis 9

Salt Lake started out strong offensively in the opening quarter jumping to an early 16-0 lead at the hands of QB Josh Woodrum completing an 11-yard touchdown pass to TE Nick Truesdell on the game’s opening drive. Continuing with the league’s highest 2-point conversion rate, Woodrum capitalized the drive when hitting WR Jordan Leslie for the two-point conversion.  Salt Lake continued with their first quarter flurry by capping off a 44-yard scoring drive with a 14-yard touchdown from Woodrum to TE Anthony Denham. RB Terrell Newby caught a pass from Woodrum to convert their second consecutive two-point conversion to take a 16-0. Following a key defensive stop following on a surprise Memphis fake-punt, K Taylor Bertolet kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Stallions up 19-0.

Next:  Salt Lake travels to San Antonio, Memphis hosts Birmingham

San Antonio 37, Atlanta 6

The San Antonio Commanders scored early and never trailed as they defeated the Atlanta Legends 37-6 in front of 10,619 at Georgia State Stadium. The Commanders (4-2) set a season-high in points by scoring 37, and the defense matched its best performance of the year by holding the Legends (2-4) to just six points.  The San Antonio defense led the way by forcing four turnovers, marking the third straight week with three or more turnovers. De’Vante Bausby, Zack Sanchez and Derron Smith all tallied an interception and Duke Thomas recovered a fumble in the victory. Offensively, Logan Woodside completed 17 of his 23 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns – one to Mekale McKay and another to Evan Rodriguez.

Next:  San Antonio will host Salt Lake, Atlanta is at home against Orlando

Birmingham 32, San Diego 29

Quarterback Luis Perez came off the bench for injured starter Keith Price and threw three touchdowns, and he led a final drive that ended with Nick Novak’s 43-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to lift the Birmingham Iron to a victory over the San Diego Fleet at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. The win ends Birmingham’s two-game losing streak.

Next:  Birmingham plays at Memphis, San Diego is at Arizona.

AFF News and Notes:

  • Johnny Manziel has joined the Memphis Express.   There has been no indication on when Manziel might see his first action in the AAF.
  • The Birmingham Iron’s front office has undergone a midseason shake-up.  Iron President Tom Ward and Vice President for Marketing Randy Campbell are no longer with the team. It’s unclear if they were fired or left the organization voluntarily.
  • Offensive player of the week: Birmingham WR L’Damian Washington. Washington had four receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns in The Iron’s 32-29 week six win. The performance marks team single-game records in receiving yards and touchdown catches, while Washington became the first player in Alliance history with at least 125 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in the same game.
  • Defensive player of the week: Salt Lake DE Karter Schult. Schult tallied five total tackles, two sacks and four QB hits in The Stallions’ 22-9 victory last week. Schult, who leads The Alliance with seven sacks this season, anchored a Salt Lake defense that held Memphis to nine points and 239 total yards while racking up seven team sacks in the win.
  • Special teams player of the week: San Antonio PR Greg Ward, Jr. Ward, Jr., a highly-accomplished quarterback at the University of Houston before transitioning to wide receiver/returner after college, set an Alliance record with a 79-yard punt return-touchdown in The Commanders’ 37-6 win in week six.

AAF Standings:

Eastern Conference

  • Orlando Apollos (5-1)
  • Birmingham Iron (4-2)
  • Atlanta Legends (2-4)
  • Memphis Express (1-5)

Western Conference

  • San Antonio Commanders (4-2)
  • San Diego Fleet (3-3)
  • Arizona Hotshots (3-3)
  • Salt Lake Stallions (2-4)

 

 

SW Florida To Debut New Arena League

ALeagueA new arena “football” league is set to begin play in four Southwest Florida cities in 2019.  I put the word “football” in quotes because one of the unique rules will be no kicking.  No punts, field goals or extra points will be allowed.  The league has been organized by the ownership group of the Lakeland Tarpons.  Other teams will include the Sarasota BigCats, Gulf Coast Fire (Ft. Myers) and Manatee Neptunes (Bradenton).

The Tarpons have bounced around several leagues since they were an expansion team in the Ultimate Indoor Football League (UIFL) in 2012.  They moved to Arena Indoor Football (AIF) in 2016 and then Arena Pro Football (APF) in 2017.  They played this past season in the American Arena League (AAL).

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Lakeland Tarpons will have a league of their own in 2019

The A-League will feature several unique innovations.   There will also be new rules designed to speed up game play and enhance the fan experience. Teams will only carry 16-man rosters, which must include at least two players who play both offensive and defense. Dubbed “The Deuce”, these two way players must play all 60 minutes on both sides of the ball.

There will also be no kicking in the game. The elimination of the kicking game dramatically improves the pace of the game and eliminates many dead ball fouls and timeouts. Teams will scrimmage from their own five-yard line, or if turned over on downs, will scrimmage from that spot.

A totally unique element of the A-League is the scheduled double header game concept. All four teams will host a regular-season doubleheader where all teams will play in the same arena in back-to-back games.

The A-League season will run from May to the end of July, 2019. All teams are owned and operated by A-League Sports with teams located in a tight footprint of local Florida markets including, Lakeland, FT Myers, Sarasota and Bradenton. Plans are in place for the addition of two to four new teams for the 2020 season. Each team will play an eight-game regular season with four home games in each team’s home venue.

The A-League is developing partnerships with regional semi-pro teams to develop talent for their rosters.

The A-League will join the Arena Football League (AFL), Indoor Football League (IFL), Champions Indoor Football (CIF), American Arena League (AAL), National Arena League (NAL) and National Gridiron League (NGL) on the indoor turf next season.

For more information on the A-League you can click here.

 

Names/Logos Set For Alliance of American Football Teams

AAF TeamsOkay, the wait is over (if you were really waiting for this).  The newest professional football league has now released their team names and logos.  The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is scheduled to kickoff on February 9, 2019.

So here they are.  These are your 10 teams:

  • Orlando Apollos
    • Stadium:  Spectrum Stadium
    • Coach:  Steve Spurrier
  • Atlanta Legends
    • Stadium:  Georgia State Stadium
    • Coach:  Brad Childress
  • Memphis Express
    • Stadium:  Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
    • Coach:  Mike Singletary
  • Birmingham Iron
    • Stadium:  Legion Field Stadium
    • Coach:  Tim Lewis
  • Salt Lake Stallions
    • Stadium:  Rice-Eccles Stadium
    • Coach:  Dennis Erickson
  • Arizona Hotshots
    • Stadium:  Sun Devil Stadium
    • Coach:  Rick Neuheisel
  • San Diego Fleet
    • Stadium:  San Diego County Credit Union Stadium
    • Coach:  Mike Martz
  • San Antonio Commanders
    • Stadium:  Alamodome
    • Coach:  Mike Riley

I don’t love or hate any of these names/logos for these proposed teams.  They didn’t pick any of the names I had expected such as Memphis Hound Dogs, Orlando Wizards, Birmingham Bulls, San Diego Breakers and San Antonio Outlaws.  Hopefully they will not end up in the graveyard of failed leagues.  Orlando, Memphis, Birmingham and San Antonio have had teams in many of the failed leagues in the past so it will be interesting to see if the fans of these cities will embrace the newest teams or will wait to see their teams fold again.  Arizona and Atlanta are the only teams with active National Football League (NFL) teams in the same city but with the spring schedule, they will not compete head-to-head.  I was a little surprised that the AAF failed to place a franchise in St. Louis.  Maybe that is in their future plans as well as expansion into the Northeast U.S.

So how will the AAF be different than the NFL?

  • AAF will get rid of kicking the extra point.  Instead, teams will go for two.
  • Play clock will be reduced to 30 seconds
  • No kickoffs.  Teams will start with the ball at the 25 to begin play.
  • Instead of an onside kick, a team can keep possession of the ball by attempting a scrimmage play from their own 35-yard line and gaining at least 10 yards.

So will the AAF survive where the USFL, WFL, CFL and other leagues failed?  It seems they are off to a good start and have some legitimate people running the league.  The last sustained attempt at an alternative spring league was the United States Football League which lasted from 1983-1986.  The league folded when the plans were made to move to the fall and compete head-to-head with the NFL.  Maybe the AAF will not repeat the mistakes of the past.  If it works, we may have access to football year-round.  That’s enough to make football haters cringe.