NFL, NBA, NHL stats

Birmingham Clinches Playoffs and Arizona Wins Third Straight in Sunday Alliance Action

March 31, 2019 - Alliance of American Football (AAF) News Release

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Week eight of The Alliance of American Football concluded with an early defensive battle that ended with The Iron punching their ticket to the playoffs and The Hotshots moving into a first-place tie atop the Western Conference after a tough road win at San Antonio on the shoulders of their MVP candidate quarterback.

"We are in the final stretch of the regular season and you can tell by the performances on both sides of the ball," said JK McKay, head of football operations, The Alliance. "The playoff matchup in the East is set. The Hotshots came away with a very impressive victory in San Antonio - probably the most difficult place to get a win in the league. The football has been tremendous each and every week and we had another solid showing in week eight."

Sunday's action began with a battle between the top two defenses in the league when The Legends traveled to Birmingham. The Iron were victorious, securing their place in the playoffs in a game defined by defense. Both teams combined for eight sacks, two interceptions and allowed just six third-down conversions in 28 attempts. The Iron's third-quarter goal line stand proved to be the defining moment of the game, stopping The Legends at the one-yard line to maintain a 14-9 lead. Iron RB Trent Richardson scored the only touchdown of the game and Legends K Younghoe Koo converted all three field goal attempts, continuing his perfect kicking season (14 for 14).

Midway through the second quarter, with the score tied 3-3, Richardson scored his league-leading 11th rushing touchdown of the season for an 11-3 lead. On the next Iron possession, The Legends' defense forced a Richardson fumble with 4:20 left in the half. Legends K Koo cut the lead to 11-6 at the half with his second field goal of the day.

Legends QB Aaron Murray replaced Matt Simms at the half and after exchanging field goals, The Legends drove to The Iron's two-yard line with a chance to take the lead. On fourth and goal, Murray scrambled and dove for the endzone, but Iron DB Max Redfield stopped him short.

With 3:49 remaining, Legends LB Jeff Luc tallied his third sack of the day. An NFL journeyman who spent time with four different franchises, Luc finds himself in The Alliance four years after his college days at Cincinnati where he was recruited as the #1 inside linebacker in the country coming out of high school.

The sack was not enough, as The Iron forced turnovers on The Legends final two possessions to secure the win and a playoff spot.

In the night game, Arizona avenged a week five loss to The Commanders with a hard fought victory in the hostile Alamodome. Hotshots QB John Wolford impressed with 216 yards (17 of 23) and a touchdown while the defense forced two turnovers and secured four sacks. Commanders QB Marquise Williams accounted for 166 total yards in relief of QB Logan Woodside.

On the games third possession, Hotshots QB and MVP candidate John Wolford found WR Rashad Ross sprinting down the center of the field, connecting with the deep-threat receiver for a 58-yard touchdown to give the Hotshots the early 6-0 lead. The touchdown pass was Wolford's league-leading 14th of the season and the touchdown catch was Ross' league-best seventh of the year.

As the leading receiver for the Hotshots, Rashad Ross is one-half of the best QB/WR scoring combination in The Alliance, with his speed being a big reason why. Since leaving Arizona State, Ross has used his speed in numerous roles on the field during a five year run in the NFL. Ross entered the 2015 season with the Washington Redskins after a successful preseason where he led the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. After making the final 53-man roster, Ross scored three touchdowns in the regular season - a kickoff return, a fumble recovery and a 71-yard touchdown reception.

The Hotshots converted a field goal in the second quarter, followed by an interception by Hotshots CB Dexter McDougle, his first of the season. The ensuing drive ended with another Hotshots touchdown when RB Tim Cook scored from six yards out for a 15-0 lead.

Midway through the fourth quarter, The Hotshots defense forced and recovered a Marquise Williams fumble. A 20-yard touchdown run on the ensuing Hotshots drive by Cook - his second rushing TD of the game - put the game out of reach.

Tune in next week as the battle for the top two seeds in the west continues when The Commanders host The Express on CBS and The Hotshots host The Iron.

Saturday, April 6 - Memphis @ San Antonio 12pm ET CBS

Saturday, April 6 - San Diego @ Orlando 8pm ET NFL Network

Sunday, April 7 - Salt Lake @ Atlanta 4pm ET B/R Live

Sunday, April 7 - Birmingham @ Arizona 8pm ET NFL Network

• Discuss this story on the Alliance of American Football message board...

Alliance of American Football Stories from March 31, 2019

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew