Week 7 of the AAF season opens with a battle between two Eastern Conference foes when the Orlando Apollos take on the Atlanta Legends. Orlando suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday night, and look to rebound against an Atlanta Legends team that saw their two-game winning streak snapped with a home loss to the San Antonio Commanders. Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 2:00 ET, at GSU Stadium, Atlanta, GA
These two teams met in Week 1, with Orlando crushing Atlanta 40-6.
Hotshots Too Strong for Apollos, 22-17
The Orlando Apollos finally saw their five-game winning streak to open their inaugural season come to an end when the Arizona Hotshots ended their three-game losing streak with a 22-17 victory. Orlando took the lead early on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Gilbert to Charles Johnson. However, things would turn quickly from there as Arizona would score 14 of the next 17 points to take a 14-9 lead heading into the half. After neither team was able to put up points in the third quarter, Orlando would retake the lead on a Gilbert 17 yard pass to Jalin Marshall for the touchdown. After the two-point conversion was successful, Jhurell Pressley would put the Hotshots back on top with a 1-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion gave Arizona a 22-17 victory.
Gilbert had a solid day, throwing for 268 yards and two touchdowns. D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 43 yards on nine carries and De’Veon Smith had 39 yards on nine carries. Marshall had six catches for 98 yards and touchdown. The defense was led by Reggie Northrup II, who had 10 total tackles.
Despite the loss, Orlando has still been the top offensive team in the AAF the season. Gilbert has thrown for 1625 yards while completing 59.2% of his passes. He leads the league with 10 touchdowns but saw his five-game streak without an interception come to an end against Arizona. Johnson has rushed for 294 yards and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Smith follows closely behind with 278 yards and a 5.3 yards per carry average. Charles Johnson was held to just four catches in the last contest but still leads the team with 33 receptions for 521 yards and three scores.
The 10 tackle performance moved Northrup into first on the team with 27 tackles this season. Keith Reaser leads the team with three interceptions this season, and Okine and Moten, Jr. are tied for first on the team with four sacks apiece.
Commanders Thrash Legends, 37-6
A 6-0 San Antonio Commanders lead quickly turned into a 20 point as the Commanders crushed the Atlanta Legends 37-6. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Atlanta, third in the Eastern Conference.
Three straight touchdowns staked the Commanders to the early lead. Trailing by 20 with about 10 minutes left in the half, Aaron Murray would complete a one-yard touchdown pass to Tarean Folston on fourth and goal at the 1 to finally get Atlanta on the board. However, San Antonio would score the remaining 17 points of the game despite the fact that Atlanta held the ball for nearly 35 minutes. In fact, Atlanta dominated the statistical categories in every way except for on the scoreboard.
Murray passed for 215 yards and a touchdown, completing an impressive 30 of 41 pass attempts, but he also threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Atlanta mustered just 65 yards on the ground.
Murray has played well, completing 81 of 124 passes for a 65.3 completion percentage. He has 813 yards passing, but his four interceptions have been costly this season. The ground game has been abysmal, with Folston leading the attack, gaining 169 yards on 38 carries. Seantavius Jones is the leading receiver this season with 21 receptions for 265 yards.
The defense has been able to get some pressure, thanks to Tracy Sprinkle who leads the team with four sacks. Tyson Graham, Jr. leads the team in tackles with 37 and has an interception the season.
The Winner Prediction
Atlanta did everything right last weekend except win the game. Costly mistakes gave the game away, and you simply can’t do that against a team like Orlando. The Apollos got a bit of an awakening last weekend against Arizona, but the Hotshots were expected by many when the season began to be the top team in the league this year. There is no embarrassment in dropping a game like that.
Orlando dominated the first meeting between these two teams, intercepting three passes while putting up better than 360 yards of offense in a 40-6 victory. We don’t expect them to dominate like that, but they will still win and win big.
The Pick: Orlando Apollos (-9.0) (-110)