NFL / san antonio commanders
AAF Week 5 Recap: San Antonio escapes Arizona to stay atop Western Conference
San Antonio Commanders survived a massive comeback from the Arizona Hotshots as they tallied a nail-biting 29-25 victory to remain on top of the Western Conference of the Alliance of American Football, at the Sun Devil Stadium, Sunday. Head coach Mike Riley and defensive coordinator Jim Grobe were put on a busy task once more as they had to design key defensive adjustments late in the game to avoid another loss heading into the second half of the season. Former Green Bay Packers linebacker Jayrone Elliott led San Antonio’s clutch defensive charge as he rallied his team to two consecutive crucial plays to deny Arizona’s potential come-from-behind win. Elliott finished with the game with three tackles and was one of the main men for the staggering Commanders defensive unit which pushed the home team to five turnovers and collected three total sacks. “We’re still learning and growing as a unit,” Elliott said. “That was the first time we’ve played with a big lead. It was a learning experience on how to finish a game.” “I think we’re hitting our stride at the right time. Our coaches have put us in a great position to be successful. We went out there, started fast and hit a little oil in the middle of the game. We finished strong through,” he also added. The Commanders shut down the Hotshots, 26-0, at the end of the first half, but almost squandered their gigantic lead as the latter went on a scoring barrage in the last two quarters. Just as when San Antonio thought they have already won with ease, Arizona slowly started clicking on offense as quarterback John Wolford started the second half with a statement. Wolford connected to Rashad Ross for a 45-yard score to give the Hotshots its first eight points before once again delivering a touchdown pass to Thomas Duarte after Nick Folk’s field goal to put them with striking distance, 19-29. Tim Cook would then score the final touchdown of the night to put Arizona trailing by just four points, but Elliott’s heroics salvaged the Commanders after breezing through the Hotshots’ offensive line and sacking Wolford for a loss of 10 yards to seal the victory. “I thought we came out really well tonight. We came out hot, got a good lead and I think our guys came ready to play,” coach Riley said in the post-match press conference. Commanders’ Corner: The Offense After running for 162 total scrimmage yards in their win against the Birmingham Iron last week, San Antonio tried to inculcate a rather balanced approach this week as coach Riley managed to make starting quarterback Logan Woodside involved more in the offense. Woodside showed more consistency than usual against Arizona after having an efficient 21-for-27 completion for 290 yards and two touchdowns against only a single sack and interception. The passing game was clicking in all cylinders all night long as Mekale McKay, Demarcus Ayers, and Alonzo Moore all accounted for 195 yards of the team’s overall receiving yards. Woodside’s two touchdowns in the first half pushed San Antonio to record the highest point total scored in The Alliance history so far after a five-yard pass to Stehly Reden extended their lead to 26-0. Meanwhile, the trio of Kenneth Farrow II, Trey Williams, and Aaron Greene rushed for just 59 yards, but that didn’t stop Farrow from scoring another touchdown when his one-yard score put the Commanders up 20-0 three minutes into the second quarter. Commanders’ Corner: The Defense It would be an understatement to say if the Commanders’ defense was good last weekend at Tempe, because boy, oh boy, they were great. Safety Derron Smith intercepted Wolford in Arizona’s first drive for a pick-six and then picked one more later in the game to inspire the Commanders’ defensive unit all game long. San Antonio finished with three interceptions—two from Smith and one from De’Vaunte Bausby—as well as two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in a night of arguably their best performance yet five weeks into the season. “Anytime you can get a big play on defense, offense or special teams, that does a good job of setting the tempo for the game. “The offense was able to come out on their opening drive and make a big play. We were able to set the tone early in the game,” Smith said after the game. Commanders’ Corner: The Special Teams All praises have always been on Nick Rose since Day 1, and that trend is still yet to change after the former Los Angeles Chargers kicker managed to sink in his only field goal attempt last night to stay perfect in the season. Rose is now 11-for-11 in the season. UP NEXT: San Antonio travels to Georgia State Stadium to face the resurging Atlanta Legends, who have now won two straight since dropping their first three games. Their match will be aired live on NFL Network at 5:00 pm local time on Sunday, March 10.
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