by Bee Jay Glosson
Week 8 brought the match-up of the number 1 and number 2 candidates for the AFL MVP competition with Tommy Grady and Arvell Nelson leading their teams in battle. This would be the third time this regular season that these two teams met, with the first 2 being decided by less than 10 points.
This game would however see the Albany Empire have their worst half of the entire season, scoring on only 2 out of 5 drives in the first half, losing the ball on a fumble, an interception and downs on the other 3.
The Valor on the other hand would score on 5 out of 6 possessions with the only exception being when time expired going into the half.
The Valor would go into the half with a 34-14 lead that was built with Arvell Nelson finding 4 different receivers for touchdowns and running one in himself. The first half was the best half the Valor have played all year and the worst the Empire have played, but there are 2 halves to a game and one half doesn’t win games without the other half being played too.
The second half would bring a few different things that would include the third largest comeback in AFL history of 27 points to win the game.
This game will forever go down in Valor history known as “The Collapse.” After the first half saw the Valor offense score 5 separate times, the second half would only see the Valor offense score on 2 possessions. The Empire would capitalize on the mistakes and miscues of the Valor and would score 6 times in the second half with their final score coming with just 12 seconds left in the game to take the final lead 56-55.
The Valor’s kicking woes continued as Clarke would miss yet another point after attempt that would end up being the difference in the 1 point loss.
It is clear that the head coach doesn’t have confidence in his kicker as he had the opportunity for a late field goal to ice the game and instead went for it on 4th down and were stopped. After the game when asked why he didn’t go for the field goal the head coach, Benji McDowell said “that’s 100% on me..that was my decision to go for it there and no one should get the blame but me.”
As I am a fan first, and a writer/reporter second, I can tell you this game was the worst gut punch I have ever experienced as a Valor fan. Even with Arvell Nelson having a day that saw him score on 6 touchdown passes to 5 different receivers and punching one in on the ground, the fact that the Valor choked a 27 point lead in the game away will over shadow anything that anyone could do. After the game when I spoke with Will Corbin, he said “We took our foot off the pedal and their throat and gave them the spark they needed. We have to find a way to pick ourselves up and get ready for our next game against Baltimore.”
The regular season woes facing Albany continue as the Valor cant find a way to beat the Empire during the regular season again. The Valor have beaten the Empire during the playoffs as they did last year to punch their ticket to the Arena Bowl and eventual title last year, and will only get another shot at Albany again if the Valor can fight their way into the playoffs as the Empire with this victory punched their own playoff ticket and will be waiting to find out who they will play.
Two-thirds on the way through the season we see the Valor in third place with their next game against their beltway rivals, the Baltimore Brigade, this Thursday for a chance to move into second place with a win. This game is the beginning of a 4 game stretch which will see the Valor play the Brigade twice in 4 weeks and will help define what the Valor’s season will shape into.
As much as this loss hurt, look for the Valor to bounce back and get back on track this week as Arvell Nelson continues his MVP campaign with his league leading total touchdowns and league leading rushing yards and touchdowns.
There is plenty blame to go around for what happened on the field this past Saturday but blame doesn’t win games. Just like the Valor have to pick themselves up and push forward, us fans must do the same. It won’t be easy to get the taste out of our mouths but it’s just 1 loss in the grand scheme of things and the playoffs are still a real possibility. As always, be loud, be proud and Go Valor.