Empire Win Big in Opening Game of Playoffs
The Albany Empire (10-2) defeated the Baltimore Brigade (7-5), 61-26, in front of 9,085 fans at the Times Union Center on Saturday night. The victory gives the Empire a 35-point lead over the Brigade in the aggregate score of the home-and-home playoff series. The second game of the series will be on Saturday, August 3 at 7 p.m. at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The Empire also announce that tickets for the ArenaBowl will be on sale on Sunday, July 28, at noon. Fans can secure their tickets to the championship game by visiting www.TheAlbanyEmpire.com . Should the Empire not reach the ArenaBowl, any fan who purchased tickets will receive a full refund.
Empire quarterback, Tommy Grady, completed 15 passes on 20 attempts for 212 yards and seven touchdowns, earning himself the game MVP award. Empire receiver, Quentin Sims, hauled in a team-high seven catches for 106 yards, and five receiving touchdowns, being named Offensive Player of the Game. Empire defensive back, Tevin Homer, had four tackles and an interception return for a touchdown, being named Defensive Player of the Game.
SCORE BY QUARTER 1 2 3 4 FINAL
ALBANY 7 14 20 20 61
BALTIMORE 6 0 7 13 26
Baltimore kick returner, Joe Powell, would open the game by returning the first kickoff back for a touchdown. The extra point attempt was missed, as the Brigade took an early 6-0 lead. AJ Coney was hit and tackled in his own end zone, giving the ball to the Empire on the three-yard line for the team's first possession of the game. On first down, Grady completed a pass to DJ Stephens for a quick gain of 14 yards and a first down. After a short completion to Malachi Jones, the Empire was aided by an illegal defense penalty to move the ball across midfield for another first down. Following another defensive penalty, Grady would hand the ball off to Mykel Benson who plowed ahead for seven yards. After losing five yards due to a false start penalty and two incomplete passes, Grady lofted one up for Sims who secured the ball in the end zone with the defense draped all over him to give the Empire a one-point lead.
The Empire nearly recovered the ensuing kick, but instead a Baltimore player landed on the loose football as the Brigade offense took the field for the first time from their own three. On first down, Baltimore was helped by a pass interference call, moving the ball up 10 yards. With the new set of downs, Shane Boyd would open with a quick pass to former Empire receiver, Joe Hills, for a gain of six. After consecutive incomplete passes, Boyd found Ervin Phillips to move the ball across midfield for a new set of downs. Going back to Phillips, the rookie picked up nine yards on a quick hitter. Boyd was then intercepted in the end zone by Terence Moore as the ball deflected off the nets. Within two plays, Albany was back in the end zone after Grady threw a bomb to Sims.
Powell would take the Empire kick to the nine-yard line where the Brigade offense would take over. Boyd would open the new drive with consecutive incomplete passes before Boyd connected with Phillips for a short gain. On fourth down, Boyd was sacked by Rodney Fritz to turn the ball over to the Empire in the red zone. Following a pass interference on Baltimore, Benson would carry the ball and plow his way into the end zone to extend the Empire lead, 21-6.
Unable to get out of the end zone on the following kickoff, the Brigade would start from their own three. Following back-to-back incomplete passes, Boyd would find Rod Windsor along the sideline right at the down marker to move the chains. Attempting to run on first down, Rory Nixon was met at the line by Aaron Tiller for a no-gain. After two more incomplete passes, the Brigade were bailed out of a fourth down turnover by a pass interference call against the Empire. From the 24-yard line, Boyd would connect with Hills to cross midfield for a gain of seven. Baltimore would pick up a first down as Boyd threw a short pass to Phillips. On first down, Boyd found Windsor near the end zone as the Brigade called their second timeout of the half with 19 seconds to go. After being setback by a false start penalty, the Brigade would use their final timeout with 12 seconds remaining in the half following another incomplete pass by Boyd. The Brigade would complete a pass, but were unable to stop the clock, as time expired in the first half with the Empire leading, 21-6.
The Empire would start with the ball in the third quarter on their own five-yard line. Following consecutive incomplete passes, Grady would throw a dart to Stephens over the middle for a first down at the Empire 20. On first down, Grady threw a screen pass to Sims, who maneuvered his way around blocks to run down field before being tripped up at the Baltimore three-yard line. Two plays later, Grady connected with Benson on a short pass as the fullback walked into the end zone for an easy score.
Beginning on their own five, Boyd found Hills along the sideline who stiff-armed his way for a first down. One play later, the Brigade were in Empire territory as Boyd threw a screen pass to Milton Williams. Following an incomplete pass, Baltimore was backed up by a false start penalty to move the ball to the 25-yard line. On the following play, Boyd's pass was tipped by Moore and then intercepted by Tevin Homer who returned the ball to the end zone for another Empire score.
Down by 29 points, the Brigade offense took the field on their own three-yard line. On first down, newly inserted quarterback, Shane Morris, connected with Hills over the middle for a first down. Baltimore would gain an extra 10 yards after a roughing the quarterback penalty on Albany. After nearly being picked off on first down, Morris would dump off a screen pass to Nixon who moved the ball down to the Empire 14. Morris would then find Hills wide open in the end zone to cut into the deficit.
Recovering the onside kick attempt, the Empire offense would take the field from the Brigade seven-yard line. One play later, Grady threw into a tight window and connected with Sims as time expired in the third quarter. The extra point attempt was no-good with the Empire still ahead, 41-13. From their own seven, Morris opened the new drive with consecutive incomplete passes before finding Hills near midfield for a first down. After a short pass to Williams, a tipped ball, and a false start penalty, Morris evaded a sack and was able to carry the ball deep into Empire territory to the Albany seven. One play later, Morris was sacked by Fritz to back the Brigade up to the 11. Morris' pass was then tipped at the line of scrimmage, but Morris caught the ball and advanced to the seven-yard line. On third down, Morris went to Hills in the flat, but the wide receiver was swarmed by Albany defenders at the three-yard line. Baltimore was unable to complete a pass, but a defensive holding penalty gave the Brigade a fresh set of downs inside the two-yard line. On first down, Morris handed the ball off to Morgan who ran the short distance into the end zone. The two-point conversion was no-good as the Empire held onto a 22-point lead.
The Brigade kickoff would hit the wall in the end zone, giving the Empire the ball on the five-yard line with just over five minutes in the game. On first own, Grady threw a quick slant to Jones who juked a defender on his way for a gain of 15. Grady would then go right back to Jones who shook a Brigade defender on his way down field for another Empire score.
Albany would attempt an onside kick and fail to recover, giving the Brigade the ball inside the five-yard line. In one play, Morris found Hills in the end zone for the score. Baltimore would attempt an onside kick of their own but failed to recover as the ball bounced into the hands of Sims at the 13-yard line. On first down, Benson took the handoff for a short gain as the Brigade use their first timeout of the half. One play later, Grady had all day in the pocket and found a diving Sims in the end zone to push the lead to 55-26 with 27 seconds to go in the game.
Powell had a nice return on the kickoff before the ball popped out and was recovered by Empire kicker, Adrian Trevino at the 16-yard line. After a false start penalty, the Empire burned their second timeout of the half. From the 21, Grady found Stephens along the sideline who stopped the clock by giving himself up at the 15. Grady then went to Sims who was stopped at the eight-yard line as the Empire used their final timeout. Grady went right back to Sims who made an incredible catch while flipping over the wall for a touchdown. Time ran out on the ensuing kickoff as the Empire were victorious, 61-26.
Albany Empire 2019 Season Presented By CDPHP.
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Arena Football League Stories from July 27, 2019
- Baltimore Drops First AFL Playoff Game 61-26 - Baltimore Brigade
- Empire Win Big in Opening Game of Playoffs - Albany Empire
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