Courtesy: Atlantic City Media Relations
ATLANTIC CITY- The Atlantic City Blackjacks (4-8) finished their inaugural season with a tough loss to the Baltimore Brigade (7-5) on Sunday night. Atlantic City and Baltimore both used two quarterbacks in the game which was filled with penalties and turnovers. The Blackjacks gave it their best in front of the 6,266 fans in attendance and will be heading into the offseason with a lot of positives following their first year of play.
Baltimore started the game with the first possession and chewed off more than nine minutes off the clock. The drive was filled with penalties and Baltimore faced the first fourth down of the game. Boyd and his offense would need 14-yards for the first and the touchdown but was defended perfectly as his pass sailed into the end zone and fell incomplete.
After an incomplete pass from newly acquired quarterback Dennis Harvilla, he dumped a pass off to Wes Mauia who made his way down the field but was flipped up and the ball was knocked loose as Baltimore recovered it. The scoreless quarter ended with Baltimore only needing seven yards for the score.
Marvin Ross broke up a pass and after a five-yard gain on third down the Brigade would face their second fourth down of the game. The defense stood strong once more as they would not allow Baltimore to get into the end zone as the Brigade would turn the ball over on downs again.
Harvilla was looking for more than a two-play drive this time around as it started with a quarterback sneak that picked up a few yards. That was not the case as on the second play the ball was ripped out of the hands of Rashad Still by Brigade’s Joe Powell as he dragged the massive pile of bodies into the endzone for the first score of the game.
Harvilla had another quick drive, but this time it ended positively for the Blackjacks. After a 14-yard connection to LaMark Brown, he hit Antwane Grant for the 19-yard touchdown and the game was all tied up.
On the Brigade’s next drive Boyd and his offense faced their third fourth down but were able to convert by one yard. Boyd then followed up on the next play with an 18-yard dart to Ervin Williams for the lead. The Brigade attempted an onside kick, but Grant was able to recover the ball on the Brigade’s 10-yard line.
On third down, Harvilla had his arm hit as he was throwing which sent the ball back into Atlantic City’s territory. Leo Bates was able to get to it first, but the offense now needed 30 yards for the score. Mark Lewis came in to attempt the 37-yard field goal. The kick hit off the crossbar and Powell of the Brigade was able to field the bounce cleanly and return it all the way back for the touchdown.
With little time on the clock, Havrilla needed to move fast. With 13 seconds left Havrilla threw it to Grant who came down at the one-yard line as time expired. There was a flag on the play for roughing the passer and the Blackjacks were gifted one last play. The defense read the quarterback sneak and were able to stuff Havrilla at the line ending the half with a 14-point lead for Baltimore at 7-21.
Jones fielded the second half kick as he was only able to get three yards on the return. The offense didn’t start out strong as they faced a fourth down from their own 16-yard line. Havrilla felt the pressure and as he was getting sacked, he tossed the ball in desperation, but the Brigade were able to intercept him.
Boyd was pulled from the game for rest as Shane Morris now stepped in. Marvin Ross welcomed him into the game quickly as he picked Morris off in the end zone and returned it across midfield. EJ Nemeth for the Blackjacks replaced Havrilla at quarterback on their next drive.
Nemeth had a shaky start to the game but was able to find Grant in the end zone as he was turned around. He was able to make the great catch on fourth down to pull the Blackjacks to within seven. Lewis kicked it deep as Powell was able to return it 13-yards.
For the fourth time in the game Baltimore faced a fourth down and Morris went deep but was way off on the throw. The Blackjacks forced a turnover on downs for the third time in the game. Nemeth had 21-yards to try and go tie the game.
Nemeth found Brown who pulled the men on his back all the way to the one-yard line. This time the Blackjacks were able to get across the goal line as Nemeth executed the quarterback sneak. The game was all locked up at 21 with one minute gone in the fourth quarter.
Powell had another great return as he took the ball across midfield to give his offense good field position. Facing a long third down after an intentional grounding flag, the Blackjacks were called for pass interference. The Brigade now needed just two yards and Rory Nixon plowed his way in for the touchdown giving them the lead back.
Kiante Northington stepped in for the kick return and found a hole and took it all the way to the Brigade’s 15-yard line, but Nick Haag was called for a block in the back. The ball went all the way back to the Blackjacks’ five-yard line. Nemeth and the offense responded as he connected with Brown to get some space. On the next play he hit Grant who was able to hug the wall and stay inbounds on the 27-yard touchdown to tie the game up.
The Blackjacks only had 30 seconds to work with. Nemeth hit Still for the 13-yard gain and stopped the clock. Nemeth went deep to Brown as it missed his outreached hands by a few inches. Nemeth went deep again to Grant but was intercepted by Powell. Time expired and the Blackjacks season would end in a loss. The team finished with a record of 4-8 in their first year.