After dominating the San Antonio Commanders on Sunday, the San Diego Fleet dominated the Alliance of American football world.
Two of the three AAF players of the week were members of the Fleet, as linebacker A.J. Tarpley and running back Ja’Quan Gardner both earned the award for the first time in Fleet history.
A.J. Tarpley led a defense that held a scorching Commanders’ offense to only 11 points on the night. Tarpley himself had five total tackles, a pass defense, and one interception against San Antonio. Tarpley earned Pro Football Focus highest individual grade on the week at a 91.4. He was targeted three times during the game and held receivers to negative yards on throws into his coverage.
The linebackers interception was the momentum shifter in the game, as he picked off quarterback Logan Woodside by undercutting an inside-breaking route and taking it to the endzone from 29-yards out. His pick-six gave the Fleet a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish as they glided to victory and into first place in the Western division.
The impact that Tarpley has on the Fleet defense is unexplainable. He is the heart and soul on arguably the league’s best front seven and he is a direct mirror image of the defensive coordinator on the field. Tarpley, who saw some playing time in his short-lived NFL career, is slowly playing his way back onto an NFL roster. Keep an eye out for his name moving forward, as he might potentially win the AAF’s first-ever defensive player of the year award.
Ja’Quan Gardner followed up a dominant performance against the Atlanta Legends with another 100+ yard rushing performance against the Commanders.
The Humboldt State product rushed for a league-leading 122 yards on 12 carries and had one of the most exciting plays in AAF history. On a third-and-long situation, the Fleet ran a delayed handoff to Gardner and he proceeded to gash the Commanders stout run defense for an 83-yard touchdown, the longest current touchdown from scrimmage in AAF history. He also averaged 10.2 yards a carry led the AAF last week and his 281 rushing yards on the season lead the league by a wide margin. His performance on Sunday night was his second straight game with more than 100 rushing yards, as he is the only player in the league to have run for over 100 yards more than once in a game. Gardner became the first player in Fleet history to win the AAF’s Offensive Player of the Week award.
The pair dominated the field and then dominated the AAF’s weekly awards. Expect more to come as they look to continue this dominance against the Memphis Express on Saturday, March 2nd.