Blackjacks fall to the Empire, 54-35

Albany Wide Receiver Quentin Sims hauls in a TD pass in the Second Quarter. Photo by: David Taylor

Atlantic City- After a fast start, the Atlantic City Blackjacks were unable to keep pace against the undefeated Albany Empire. Atlantic City matched Albany score for score until halftime. The Blackjacks led 28-27 at the break but ultimately fell, 54-35.

After the half, it was all Empire. Albany received the second half kickoff, and promptly drove the ball the length of the field. The drive resulted in a touchdown pass to Malachi Jones from quarterback Tommy Grady. The duo was unstoppable all game long, as Jones finished with 12 catches for 106 yards and 3 touchdowns. Grady finished the game 24 for 31 with 228 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Juwan Offray recovers a fumbled kick return for a TD. Photo: Tonya Taylor

Looking to keep pace, Atlantic City WR Kendrick Ings fumbled the ensuing kickoff. It was recovered in the endzone by Albany for a touchdown. It was the first lead of the game for the Empire, and it set the tone for the rest of the half. It was the only negative on the day for Ings, who finished the game with 11 catches for 106 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ings also returned a first half kickoff for a touchdown, the first in the history of the Atlantic City franchise.

Atlantic City lost multiple second half turnovers, including a 21-yard fumble recovery by Joe Sykes to seal the victory for Albany. Atlantic City also lost Lamark Brown for the game due to what coach Ron James called a “lower leg injury.” James also added, “We did some harm to ourselves today. Obviously I have to coach some of the situations better. We didn’t do a good job of fielding the ball, and when didn’t, they capitalized. That’s what good teams do.” When asked what the message to his team going into this week would be, James said, “The message was simple in the locker room. We just have to stop hurting ourselves. Most of our mistakes were self-inflicted. We had one play in particular that I thought was indicative of how we didn’t want to finish the game. We thought we had a touchdown with the ball off of the side wall, because the side wall is live in arena football, the back wall is dead. So we thought we had a catch off of the side wall, it was ruled that it wasn’t. The next play, we gave the ball up.”

With the loss, Atlantic City falls to 2-3 and will host Baltimore next weekend.

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