Fleet Dominate Commanders and Move Into Tie for First in the West

Credit: EVT Sports

Credit: Luke Ramirez/EVT Sports

SDCCU Stadium- San Diego, California

Two wins in a row are always good. That second win coming against your rivals and the team that beat you in week one? Even better for the San Diego Fleet, who won on Sunday against the San Antonio Commanders by a score of 31-11. 

Just like last week, it didn’t start well for Mike Martz and the San Diego Fleet offense. On the first play from scrimmage, Phillip Nelson’s pass intended for Nelson Spruce was intercepted by Commanders cornerback De’Vante Bausby. On the very next play, Mekale McKay beat Ryan Moeller for a 47-yard touchdown from Logan Woodside. The Commanders then completed the two-point conversion, bringing the San Antonio lead to 8-0.

The Fleet got the ball back and quickly punted it away. Woodside and the Commanders subsequently drove down and scored on a pass to Greg Ward, only to have it overturned by penalties. Self-Inflicted wounds (Nine penalties for 80 yards) were a common theme for San Antonio during Sunday’s game, as Woodside would throw an interception into triple coverage a few plays later.

After the interception, the Fleet took over and started rolling from there. The ensuing drive was four minutes long and highlighted by a 43-yard bomb from Nelson to Laquivonte Gonzales, who was playing in his first game Sunday. Terrell Watson also starred in this drive and ended the day with 73 yards on 13 carries. They would then score on a 3-yard pass from Nelson to Nelson Spruce, his first of the day and Phillip Nelson’s first of the season.

After a couple punts on both sides, the Fleet continued their dominant play on defense. A.J. Tarpley undercut a slant and ran the Fleet’s second interception of the day 27 yards into the endzone for the second score of the season and the first defensive touchdown in team history. Shortly after, Terrell Watson ran up the middle for the two-point conversion.

On the very next Fleet drive, Phillip Nelson showed us why Martz chose him to command the Fleet offense. Nelson led a long six and a half minute, 84-yard drive that ended in another Nelson to Nelson touchdown, this one for 18 yards.

The Commanders got the ball after the half but didn’t do a whole lot with it and ended up punting it away to the Fleet. The defense stood tall for most of the game after the first play, only allowing 144 yards through the air and keeping the pressure on Woodside for the majority of the game.

The Fleet imposed their will on the ground in the second half of this game. Ja’Quan Gardner, who only had 15 yards at the half, broke an 83-yard touchdown for the longest touchdown in AAF history.  Gardner also had his second 100+ yard game on the season, totaling 122 yards on only 12 carries.

The Commanders would get the ball back on a muffed punt by Gonzalez and scored three points off of a Nick Rose field goal two minutes later, making the score 28-11 with 3:27 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Fleet got the ball back and took six and a half minutes to drive 58 yards and scored another three points on a Donny Hageman field goal. These were the final three points of the game, leaving the score at 31-11. The Commanders switched quarterbacks late, giving Marquis Williams a chance to drive the ball down the field. San Antonio ended up turning the ball over on downs in the red zone, giving San Diego the chance to kneel the ball and end the game.

Phillip Nelson was extremely efficient, throwing 17 for 25 for 193 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. His play was a big reason for the Fleet’s offensive success on the day.

Defensively, San Diego did a great job getting to Logan Woodside and Marquis Williams. They totaled five sacks and ended up with two big interceptions on the day that both resulted in touchdowns. Shakir Soto and Alex Barrett both added a sack and had multitudes of pressures. 

After a dominant 31-11 win over their division rivals, the San Diego Fleet are now riding a two-game win streak into their matchup against the 0-3 Memphis Express. They are tied with the Arizona Hotshots for first place in the Western division. 

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