Mass Pirates Home Opener Game Notes
Spokane Shock (0-1) at Massachusetts Pirates (2-1)
Saturday, May 22, 7:30pm - Phoenix Field - DCU Center - Worcester, MA
For the first time in 665 days the Massachusetts Pirates will return to action on Phoenix Field at the DCU Center as they host the Spokane Shock in the home opener. Much has taken place since the Pirates defeated the New York Streets 50 -23 on July 27, 2019. The team hired a new coach and joined a new league.
The Pirates hired former New England Patriot and three time Super Bowl Champion Patrick Pass on November 9, 2019. On August 19 of 2020 Pirates Founder, Owner and General Manager Jawad Yatim announced the Pirates had joined the Indoor Football League. In 2021 the move looks great as the team returns home after a 2-1 road trip to start the season.
Massachusetts allowed just 18 points and 109 yards of total offense in a season opening win at Louisville, posted four sacks in a 40-36 setback in Green Bay and yielded just 1.3 yards per rush by Bismarck ball carriers in a 36 to 18 victory. The Pirates are coming off a bye week.
This week they face the Spokane Shock who saw a three point lead disappear in the final ten seconds in a 36-33 loss to the Frisco Fighters in their first game of the season.
Pirates QB Alejandro Bennifield has been impressive in his three games. He's completed 54.5 percent of his passes (36 of 66) for 411 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception. Twice he's thrown three touchdown passes in a game. In his last outing against Bismarck he threw for a season high 184 yards. He's also scored seven rushing touchdowns which leads the team. Bennifield ran for a season high of four touchdowns in a game vs. Green Bay and threw for another earning him IFL Offensive Player of the Week in week two.
Spokane quarterback Charles McCullum was 18 of 31 last week for 141 yards, a touchdown and threw two interceptions in the season opener against Frisco. He also scored on a seven yard run.
The Running Backs
Massachusetts running back Justin Stockton has a team high 149 yards on 31 carries for 4.8 yards per attempt. His six catches are third most on the team. Stockton has one TD reception and 38 receiving yards. His 11 carries for 76 yards (6.9 per carry) and a TD vs. Louisville earned him league Offensive Player of the Week honors in week one.
For the Shock, Davonte Sapp-Lynch was the featured back in week one against Frisco where he gained 47 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Pirates wideout Thomas Owens leads Massachusetts in receptions (15), receiving yards (222) and receiving touchdowns (4). His eight receptions for 105 yards and a score in week three against Bismarck saw him garner the IFL Offensive Player of the Week honors. His three touchdown grabs vs. Louisville are the most in a game this season.
Terrence Williams has adjusted to the indoor game rather well. The former Dallas Cowboy wideout has 110 yards on ten receptions and a score.
Spokane Wide receiver Kamrin Solomon led his team last week with six receptions for 61 yards and a score while Troy Evans Jr. added 35 yards on five receptions.
The Pirates have allowed 76 points in three games for an average of 25.3 which leads the IFL. Spokane has a small sample size as they allowed 36 points last week to Frisco, which ranks them seventh.
Individually for Massachusetts linebacker Martrell Spaight leads the team in tackles (25) and blocked kicks with two. Spaight also shares team high honors in sacks with Tavarus Dantzler with 2.5 and in passes broken up with defensive back Khalid Wooten with three.
Dantzler was recognized as the IFL Defensive Player of the Week in week two vs. Green Bay when he recorded six tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss for a total of 35 yards, had 2.5 sacks and forced two fumbles, which leads the team. His 6.5 tackles for a loss lead the team this season.
Defensive end JD Griggs is second on the team with 15 tackles and scored a touchdown against Louisville on a 12-yard fumble recovery. Defensive lineman Toby Johnson is tied for third on the team with 13 tackles with defensive back Santos Ramirez.
Spokane has a solid defensive front with Nick Woodman, Dante Holmes and Walter Thomas, but it was three defensive backs that compiled impressive numbers in week one. Mike Green led the Shock with ten tackles and Cedric Poole chipped in with nine. Dominick Sanders also had three passes broken up in the loss.
This is the first meeting between the two teams.
The Massachusetts Pirates have a 1-1 record all-time in home openers.
Patrick Pass is the third head coach in the history of the Pirates. In 2019 he served as the team's Director of Player development. His record is 2-1 as a coach.
The New England Patriots drafted Pass in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft (239 overall). He played eight seasons. In 79 games he rushed 128 times for 526 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 66 receptions for 570 yards and a score. He was a member of Super Bowl championship teams in 2002, 2004 and 2005 in New England. He also had short stints with the Houston Texans and the New York Giants.
Pass attended the University of Georgia where he played running back, quarterback, receiver and returned kicks. Before his freshman season he was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft. He played in the Marlins' farm system from 1996 through 1998.
Billy Back is in his first season as coach of the Spokane Shock. This is his 11th season as a head coach and has earned five championships along the way. His all-time record stands at 106-39.
Prior he led the Wichita Falls Nighthawks in 2016 and was the IFL Coach of the Year. Other head coaching stops included the Nashville Venom in 2014 & 2015, 2013 with the Texas Revolution and the Cincinnati Commandos (2009-2012). Back won three championships in Cincinnati and had a perfect 12-0 season in 2011. He was named Co-Coach of the year in 2010. Back enjoyed a six year career in the NIFL. He attended Miami-University of Ohio and was inducted into the Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame for his time there as a student athlete.
The Pirates lead the IFL in the following categories
Defense Average - 25.3 points per game
Longest Pass Play - 45 yards vs. Bismarck
Most Sacks - Four vs. Green Bay
Most Penalties - 11 vs. Louisville
Pass Attempts - Alejandro Bennifield, 66
Pass Completions - Alejandro Bennifield, 36
Passing Yards - Alejandro Bennifield, 411
Passing Touchdowns - Alejandro Bennifield, 7
Longest Pass Completion - Alejandro Bennifield, 45 yards
Receiving Yards - Thomas Owens, 222
Touchdown Receptions - Thomas Owens, 4
Longest Reception - Thomas Owens, 45 yards
Kick Return Average - Laquvionte Gonzalez, 24.3
Total Offensive Yards - Alejandro Bennifield, 481 yards
Sacks - Martrell Spaight, 2.5
Forced Fumbles - Toby Johnson, 1*
Fumble Recoveries - JD Griggs & Chucky Williams, 1*
Fumble Returns - JD Griggs and Chucky Williams 1*
(* with many others)
The Shock lead the IFL in the following categories
Field Goal Percentage - Sawyer Petre, 100% (2-2)
Average Tackles Per Game - Mike Green, 10
Passes Defended Per Game - Dominick Sanders, 3
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