The Fleet lose in a disappointing fashion to the Memphis Express. The Fleet lead by eight points in the fourth quarter before giving up 11 unanswered points to lose 26-23.
Bucking the trend of slow starts, the Fleet defense quickly stopped Memphis and forced a punt on the first drive. Ron Brooks then returned the ball 57 yards for the score. After a failed two-point attempt, SD lead 6-0 early.
After Donny Hageman’s first missed field goal (53 yards) of the season, the Express drove down 30 yards and kicker Austin MacGinnis made his first field goal of the season, a 46 yarder.
On the ensuing drive, Philip Nelson (9/12, 110 yards, 1 touchdown) and the Fleet moved the football 75 yards down the field and scored on a 6-yard pass to Dontez Ford. Ford had a big day, catching three of his six targets for 71 yards and that 6-yard touchdown.
After scoring the touchdown, the Fleet offense was back on the field quickly due to a Memphis three and out. Nelson would then fumble the football on a botched snap, giving the football back to Memphis. The Express would take advantage of their first takeaway of the game and score three points on a 40-yard field goal, MacGinnis’s second of the day.
The Fleet would then drive to the 39-yard line, where they would attempt and complete a fourth down conversion. Starting quarterback and star of last weeks victory, Philip Nelson, was injured on the play and ruled out for the rest of the game.
Alex Ross would then step in, throwing two passes, with one of them being for a 30-yard touchdown to Marcus Baugh. They would fail the two-point conversion and lead 20-6 with 5:41 left in the first half.
Zach Mettenberger and the Fleet would then drive 58-yards for MacGinnis’s third field goal of the day. This drive was highlighted by a diving catch by Reece Horn for a 39-yard gain. Horn had four catches for 63 yards on the day.
On the next, Alex Ross and the San Diego Fleet would continue their turnover woes. Ross would scramble right on a third down and throw a late pass that was intercepted by Drew Jackson, who had 14 total tackles, a sack, one interception, and four defended passes.
This turnover became turn into six points for the Memphis Express, as Mettenberger took it in from one yard out to make the score 20-15 after a failed two-point conversion.
Both San Diego and Memphis struggled in the third quarter offensively, trading punts until San Diego scored a field goal on a 36 yard, seven play drive. This made the score 23-15 with 14:03 left in the game.
Memphis and San Diego would trade punts once again until the Fleet turned the ball over for the third time on an Alex Ross fumble, giving the Express the ball at the 21 yard line. Memphis would score four plays later on a six-yard pass to Terrence Magee. After a successful two-point conversion run by Mettenberger, the game was tied 23-23.
On the ensuing drive, The Fleet failed to move the ball much on the first three plays, giving them a fourth and three situation on their own 32-yard line. Mike Martz made a questionable call to go for it on fourth calling a fake punt that was unsuccessful with Sam Irwin-Hill getting tackled in the backfield for a four-yard loss. After getting the ball back, Memphis ran out the clock and kicked MacGinnis’s fourth field goal of the game, a 45 yarder that snuck by the left upright. With that field goal, the Express took the lead 26-23.
Turnovers were a big problem for the Fleet during this game. After running for a 14 yard gain on third and 13 for a first down, things seemed to be going in the right direction for San Diego. On the next third down, Alex Ross dropped back and was strip-sacked by Corey Vereen. This would be San Diego’s fourth and final turnover.
Zach Mettenberger then kneeled three times until the clock hit double zeroes. Memphis would walk away with its first victory while the San Diego Fleet drop to 2-2.
After this disappointing 26-23 loss to the Express, Mike Martz and the San Diego Fleet look forward to their matchup with the Salt Lake Stallions.