The playoff picture got a little clearer this weekend. Here’s a rundown of what happened in Week 8 of the AAF.
Week eight has come and gone in the Alliance of American Football league.
Here’s a quick recap of all the action from Week Eight:
Apollos 34, Express 31
In Memphis, the Orlando Apollos were able to hold off the Memphis Express in what turned out to be a shootout. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert, an MVP candidate, struggled early in the contest, throwing two interceptions and fumbling once, but was able to recover to record a 300-yard passing performance.
Things took a dramatic turn in the fourth quarter. Leading 31-28, Memphis was forced to punt. The snap went through the hands of the punter, resulting in a turnover deep in Express territory. On the ensuing drive, Orlando was gifted a no-call by the officiating team. The Apollos appeared to have not gotten the snap off in time (which should have been a delay of game). Express coach Mike Singletary ran onto to the field to protest the no-call, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. In the aftermath of the play, the Apollos ended up on the two-yard line, first and goal. Orlando punched it in on the next play, and never trailed again.
Penalties ruled this game. There were twenty-five penalties for over 250 yards. Penalties called back two touchdowns and negated three interceptions. The loss ended Express Fans’ hopes for postseason play. With the win, the Apollos clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Salt Lake Stallions 8, San Diego Fleet 3
It was the lowest scoring game in AAF history. The Stallions and Fleet combined for only eleven points, in a contest that quickly became a game of “anything you can do, I can do worse.” Salt Lake quarterback Josh Woodrum and Fleet QB Mike Bercovici dueled each other for the league lead in interceptions, with Bercovici coming out on top. A late Bercovici interception in the fourth sealed the win for the Stallions.
Salt Lake nearly lost the game when they won it. On the game’s lone touchdown, Woodrum fumbled the snap, handed the ball to running back Joel Bouagnon, who fumbled going across the goal line. A booth review upheld the touchdown. This gave Salt Lake the score it needed to preserve the victory. More importantly, the Stallions still have an outside shot at the playoffs.
Birmingham Iron 17, Atlanta Legends 9
The Birmingham Iron became the second team in the AAF to clinch a playoff spot this season, defeating Atlanta 17-9. Trent Richardson scored his league-leading eleventh rushing touchdown of the year. Kicker Nick Novak added three field goals for the Iron.
The Legends’ offensive struggles continued, as they were unable to break ten points for the third consecutive week. Turnovers doomed the Legends. Two interceptions and two fumbles were too much to overcome for the inept Atlanta offense.
With the win, Birmingham clinched a playoff spot. The Iron will play the Apollos in the Eastern Conference championship game on April 21 at 12:00. CBS will televise the game.
Arizona Hotshots 23, San Antonio Commanders 6
The Arizona Hotshots continue to be the most dangerous team in the AAF. The Hotshots traveled to San Antonio this weekend and dominated the Commanders, 23-6. The Hotshots struck early on a 58-yard pass to Rashad Ross. Arizona never really looked back after that. A late fourth-quarter score from running back Tim Cook put the game away.
San Antonio never really got anything going offensively. The Commanders thrive on creating offense from their defense but were unable to create any turnovers. The loss dropped San Antonio to 5-3 and opened up the West. Interestingly, with two games to play, all four teams are still in the playoff race in the West.
Notables from the Weekend
- Johnny Manziel was injured and had to exit the game early after trying to make a tackle on an interception.
- It is possible for all four teams in the West to finish the season at 5-5.
- The Eastern Conference Bracket is set: Birmingham at Orlando. The teams play one another in the last game of the regular season, which is the week prior to the Conference Championship
- Kickers Nick Rose (Commanders), Younghoe Koo (Legends), and Elliot Fry (Apollos) have yet to miss a kick this season.