The game giveth and taketh away. After winning the game on a field goal as time expired, the San Diego Fleet lost in similar fashion. A 44-yard field goal from San Diego native Nick Novak sealed the Fleet’s fate.
But even if he is a San Diego native, he can’t crack the Fleet’s Three Stars. Neither do any of the offensive linemen, as the Fleet averaged less than three yards a carry against the seventh-ranked rushing defense in the AAF. A lot of this is due to the offensives lineman being unable to reach the second level of the defense. As a result of that rushing attack, San Diego’s running backs weren’t three-star candidates either. Terrell Watson played well despite his limited carries, averaging 4.8 yards per carry on only eight carries. But only totaling 38 yards and a touchdown doesn’t equate to a star.
The defense wasn’t terrible, and two of the performers earned stars. None of them are defensive backs. Even though they had one interception, it was due to production from the defensive line. This defensive back group allowed 377 yards and three touchdowns to an offense that had only had one touchdown pass through the first five games. That type of performance doesn’t merit a star.
The one guy that might have earned a star but didn’t would have to be Mike Bercovici. He threw for 311 yards and had three touchdown passes. It should have been four but Marcus Baugh dropped an early touchdown pass. But inconsistency marred Bercovici’s best AAF performance to date, as he also threw two interceptions and only had a 50% completion percentage. His yardage was also boosted by a large number of yards after the catch by a certain wide receiver.
Today’s stars include two defensive leaders and one of the most consistent players on offense.
Three Stars- A.J. Tarpley (7 Solo Tackles, 2 Pass Defenses)
A.J. Tarpley was a huge part of San Diego’s success against the run. The Fleet held Birmingham to 90 rushing yards on 3.9 yards a carry. This forced the Iron to attempt over 50 passes, and Tarpley played well in coverage. While he isn’t the tackling machine that Frank Ginda can be, Tarpley’s ability as a well-rounded linebacker is very important to this defense. Even when he isn’t a tackling machine, his ability to get the ball carrier to the ground by himself is fantastic because it means he’s stopping the play right there.
Two Stars- Dontez Ford (3 receptions, 182 yards, 122 YAC)
In two and a half quarters and on only four targets, Dontez Ford put up the second most receiving yards of any receiver this season. He only caught three passes but put up a Randy Moss-like amount of yardage. He averaged an absurd 60.2 yards per catch and had a total of 122 yards after the catch. His ability to make a big play with the ball in his hands led to three different scores. Whenever given an accurate pass, he made plays. If healthy, he is going to continue to play well.
One Star- Damontre Moore (5 Tackles, 1 sack, 6 QB Hits)
Damontre Moore has been the MVP of this Fleet team through six weeks, and it didn’t change today. He had an AAF single-game record six quarterback hits and was a part of a majority of the AAF’s 33 total pressures. He’s the driving force for this San Diego defense and was a part of the reason Perez had two interceptions. His ability to get to the passer also resulted in him getting double teamed at times, giving other talented pass rushers like Alex Barrett, Tani Tupou, and Shakir Soto a chance to get after the quarterback. Moore’s impact wasn’t only on the boxscore, he makes the game easier for everyone else with his team.
My names Zachary Gartin. I’m a college kid going to school in Newberg, Oregon. When I’m not writing about the San Diego Fleet, I’m usually training for football or playing Xbox. Follow me @The_Sideline10