SDCCU Stadium/San Diego, California-
San Diego pulled out a win in nail-biting fashion as they win at SDCCU Stadium for the third time this season. After a late rally by the Salt Lake Stallions, Donny Hageman was put on the field for a chance at the game-winning field goal. He slid it right by the left upright, and the San Diego crowd roared in response as their team won 27-25 as time expired.
The day didn’t start out too well for Hageman though, as the Fleet drove 42 yards down the field over 11 plays only to miss a 41-yard field goal. The defense stepped up right after, forcing a three and out.
Right after, Mike Bercovici led the Fleet down the field for a Hageman 39-yard field goal. Bercovici had a big day, completing 22 of his 43 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown. Later in the game, he threw an interception as well.
After the Hageman field goal, Josh Woodrum and the Stallions offense went the full 75 yards down the field and scored on a Joel Bouagnon three-yard run. After a successful two-point conversion, the Stallions led 8-3 at the end of the first quarter.
On the ensuing drive, the Fleet quickly moved the football down to the Salt Lake 16-yard line, but couldn’t turn the red zone trip into a touchdown. Instead, they settled for a 34-yard Hageman field goal. They struggled to find the endzone in the first half and settled for field goals on all three of their drives that were inside the 30-yard line that half.
With the score now at 8-6, Salt Lake took over and started driving the field before eventually turning the ball over. On second and eight, Fleet wide receiver turned cornerback Kameron Kelly recorded his first interception of the night. He picked off a pass intended for Brian Tyms.
Later in the second quarter, the Stallions would again find themselves driving into the red zone. After having a touchdown nullified by an illegal chop block, Josh Woodrum would throw his second pick of the night to Kameron Kelly. After the interception, Bercovici would take a knee to close out the half with the score sitting at 8-6.
After trading punts on the first drive, Salt Lake would capitalize on a series of short passes that would put them in field goal range and allow them to take a 44-yard field goal and an 11-6 lead.
After another punt, San Diego was struggling to put points on the board offensively so their defense decided to step up. Frank Ginda and Damontre Moore forced a Terrell Newby fumble and Jordan Martin scooped up the football and returned it 41 yards for San Diego’s first touchdown of the game. After failing to score on the two-point conversion, the Fleet had their second lead of the game at 12-11.
The defensive playmaking wouldn’t stop there. On the ensuing drive, a hit by Tani Tupou forced Josh Woodrum out of the game. After the roughing the passer penalty was assessed and Austin Allen entered the game, he was hit by Damontre Moore. This hit forced a fumble that was recovered by Moore moments after, giving San Diego the ball at the Salt Lake 18-yard line.
On the very next play, Mike Bercovici threw his first touchdown pass in the AAF, an 18-yard pass to tight end Ben Johnson who dove into the endzone for the score. Another failed two-point conversion left the score at 18-11.
After forcing a three and out on the ensuing drive, San Diego began to drive the ball down the field. Bercovici drove the football down the field for nearly six minutes before throwing his only interception of the night to Will Davis.
On the very next play, Kameron Kelly made another appearance. He snatched his third interception of the night, this time returning it 22 yards to the endzone for six points. After their third failed two-point conversion, the Fleet led 24-11 with 9:26 left to play.
The Stallions would not back down after the Fleet score. With Woodrum back at quarterback, he and Pierson-El connected for four times before a four-yard touchdown run by Bouagnon. They had cut the lead to seven with the score sitting at 24-17 with 4:02 left in the fourth.
San Diego was only able to take a minute and 45 seconds of the clock on the next drive as they only gained three yards. They struggled to run the ball all day, only totaling 31 yards against the Stallions first-ranked run defense. With 2:17 left on the clock, the Stallions had the ball on their own 24-yard line.
Salt Lake would then drive 76 yards in less than a minute. Woodrum connected with Pierson-El and Adonis Jennings for 30 and 42 yards respectively before throwing a six-yard touchdown pass to Nick Truesdell. The score was now 24-23, with the Stallions trailing by one.
On the ensuing two-point conversion, Josh Woodrum would roll out to the right. After finding nothing open, he would retrace his steps back to the left before finding Kenny Bell open on the left side of the endzone. The pass would be complete, putting Salt Lake ahead by one with 51 seconds left.
After an incomplete pass on the first play, Bercovici found the mark. He found Dontez Ford (Three catches for 94 yards) down the left sideline for a huge 45-yard gain that put the Fleet in field goal position. After two more plays, San Diego found itself believing in the right foot of Donny Hageman with three seconds on the clock. After the snap and hold, Hageman slid the ball right beside the left upright for the 44-yard field goal. After it went in, Hageman ran off with his arms held high as the San Diego crowd roared behind him.
With this win, San Diego advances to 3-2 and will eventually be tied for first place in the Western Conference. The Fleet will play the 3-2 Birmingham Iron next week at home.