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Fleet Find the End Zone, First Win over Atlanta, 24-12

by Paul Reeths
February 17, 2019 - Alliance of American Football (AAF) - San Diego Fleet

After playing nearly 111 minutes of football without scoring a touchdown, San Diego Fleet running back Ja'Quan Gardner found the end zone twice in the fourth quarter to lift San Diego to a 24-12 victory over the Atlanta Legends in the Fleet's rainy home opener.

An announced crowd of 20,019 welcomed professional football back to San Diego more than two years after the NFL's Chargers left for Los Angeles.

"This is a huge win for us to get back on track," said Gardner. "Very fun game, ecstatic crowd. Football is back in San Diego and we couldn't be happier."

Atlanta, also held without a touchdown in week one, scored its first TD in the opening quarter on a 19-yard pass from Matt Simms to Malachi Jones, staking the Legends to a 9-0 advantage. The score was set up by a Carlos Merritt interception.

The Fleet managed a pair of late first-half field goals from Donny Hageman to cut Atlanta's lead to three at the half. Ryan Moeller set the Fleet up for the second kick by picking off a deflected pass.

Gardner powered San Diego back into the game, running for a game-high 104 yards and the pair of scores. All told, the Fleet rolled up 185 yards rushing, out-gaining Atlanta by more than 100 yards on the ground (185-82).

San Diego's Philip Nelson completed 14 of 30 throws for 142 yards.

For Atlanta, Simms threw 25 times, completing 17 for 160 yards and a score.

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