Stat Pack Attack Week 8: The Empire Strikes Back

by David Taylor

Football is a game where you have to have a short memory. If you dwell too much on past mistakes, (a loss, an interception, a dropped pass), or get too comfortable during a win streak, teams can get stuck in a hole they can’t crawl out of.

The Albany Empire looked like they were in too deep after the first 33:32 of their game against the Washington Valor. The Valor had a chance to break the game, and the league, wide open, before back to back fumbles lead to the lead being cut to just six points headed to the fourth.

With the ball on the Empire four yard line, and a one possession lead, the Valor chose not to go for the field goal and go for the touchdown, leading to an interception and giving Tommy Grady and Albany the ball back with 1:04 left.

The Empire would score with 12 seconds left, thanks to an amazing pass from Grady to Quentin Sims on fourth down. An Empire pick would end the game, and give Albany the 56-55 win.

Albany scored 42 points in the second half, the most since July 7, 2018 when the Philadelphia Soul scored 43 points in a 71-57 loss to, strangely enough, the Albany Empire.

Unfortunately for the Valor, they go down in the record books as the team who blew the third largest lead in AFL history, as they lead by 27 points at one point in the game. The largest blown deficit was when the Pittsburgh Power overcame a 31 point deficit to knock of the Orlando Predators in 2012.††

With the win, Albany becomes the first team to clinch one of the four AFL playoff spots. The Baltimore Brigade sit two games back in second and are the AFL’s hottest team after two huge wins over Albany and Columbus. The Valor and Soul are currently just a game back, both 4-4, while Atlantic City is just one spot out of the playoffs at 3-5. Columbus sits in last place at 1-7 but with four games left in the regular season, the Destroyers still have an outside chance

Standings (As of June 16, 2019)

Team                                     Record
Albany Empire                        7-1
Baltimore Brigade                   5-3
Washington Valor                    4-4
Philadelphia Soul                     4-4
————————————————-
Atlantic City Blackjacks           3-5
Columbus Destroyers             1-7

Bold = Clinched Playoff Berth

Week Eight Results:
Baltimore 44 Columbus 39
Albany 56 Washington 55
Philadelphia 54 Atlantic City 29

Joe Hills Makes History

In what would’ve been the lead story this weekend in the AFL if it wasn’t for the Empire’s epic come back, Joe Hills made not just AFL history, but football history.

With 3:23 left in the first quarter in Columbus, Hills caught an 11 yard pass from Shane Boyd, giving him his 100th straight game with a touchdown reception.

Hills had already broken the league record when he played for the Tampa Bay Storm, catching a pass in his 79th straight game in 2017 against, oddly enough, the Baltimore Brigade.

To truly appreciate Hills record, the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception is 13 by hall of famer Jerry Rice.

Joe Hills doesn’t look to be done this season. He’s tied for third in the AFL with 17 touchdown receptions, and now ranks eighth all time with 276 receiving touchdowns.

League Lookback: The Largest Come Back In AFL History

On April 14, 2012, the Pittsburgh Power took on the Orlando Predators in an early season clash. The Predators were sitting at 0-4, looking for their first win.

And for 38:25 of game time, it looked like they would, as the Preds would pull away for a 48-17 lead.

The Power would go on a 34-3 run, including a touchdown catch by Randy Hymes with 37 seconds left to tied the game at 51.

In overtime, Orlando would get another field goal, but Christian Wise would catch his only pass of the game, a 19 yard reception for the game winning touchdown for the Pittsburgh Power in the largest come from behind win in AFL history.

The loss would give the Predators their first ever 0-5 start in team history. Orlando would finish 4-14, while Pittsburgh would finish 5-13 with two wins over the Predators.

Game of the Week: Baltimore at Washington

I’m going to bookend this week’s Stat Pack with how I started, you have to have a short memory in football.

Washington will need a short memory to rebound this week after such a heartbreaking loss. Baltimore will need a short memory to continue their winning streak.

The key payer this week is the Valor QB Arvell Nelson. Nelson went 23-for-34 with 262 yards and six touchdowns but threw two interceptions in the last two minutes of the game.

He’ll be facing a tough Brigade defense that tallied four sacks last week against Columbus. Darryl-Cato Bishop has made a case for Defensive Player of the Year this season, as the former NC State Wolfpack defender has four sacks, four and a half tackles for loss and has forced two fumbles.

Dezmon Epps will need to be a factor as he had four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown last week.

This Week’s Games

June 20, 2019
Baltimore Brigade (5-3) @ Washington Valor (4-4) — 7:00 PM

June 22, 2019
Atlantic City BlackJacks (3-5) @ Albany Empire (7-1) — 3:30 PM
Philadelphia Soul (4-4) @ Columbus Destroyers (1-7) — 7:00 PM

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