Courtesy: Atlantic City Blackjacks Media Relations
ATLANTIC CITY- The Blackjacks faced off against the undefeated Albany Empire on Saturday night. Randy Hippeard and Blackjacks struck first with Hippeard finding Kendrick Ings for the five-yard touchdown. The Empire would face a fourth down on their first drive after a wide-open Malachi Jones dropped a pass. Jones would catch the next pass and pick up the first down to keep the drive alive. Jones would also score the first points for the Empire as Tommy Grady found him in the end zone, but kicker Adrian Trevino would miss the extra point. Trevino’s kickoff was short which allowed Ings to field the ball perfectly and he took it all the way back for a touchdown. The Empire would respond quickly as Grady found Jones once again for the 24-yard touchdown. The first quarter came to an end with the Blackjacks leading 14-13.
The first score of the second quarter came from Hippeard to Ings once again on the 19-yard passing touchdown. Grady responded with a quick drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown to Quentin Sims. Hippeard stuck with his hot receiver Ings to pick up career passing touchdown 400 on the following drive. The back and forth action would continue with Grady finding Terrance Moore for the touchdown. The first half would come to an end with the Blackjacks leading 28-27.
The Empire would receive the ball after half and would be faced with a fourth down play in their drive. Grady was forced out of his pocket but found Jones in the end zone for the touchdown and the Empire would take their first lead of the game. Ings couldn’t field the ball cleanly on the ensuing kickoff and Juwan Offray was able to recover the ball in the end zone for the touchdown. The Blackjacks faced a fourth down on their next drive and Hippeard went deep to Ings but the Empire were called for pass interference. A string of penalties put the Blackjacks in bad position but Hippeard would find Rashad Still down the field and pick up the first down. The third quarter ended with the Empire now in the lead with a score of 28-41.
The first play of the fourth quarter resulted in a touchdown from Hippeard to Rashad Still to pull the Blackjacks to within six points. The Empire would begin their next drive with under 12 minutes to play. Grady marched his offense down the field and Mykel Benson finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. With under two minutes to play, Hippeard fumbled the ball after he was sacked which was recovered by the Empire. Another turnover at the end of the game resulted in a fumble returned for a touchdown by the Empire. A second half with the Blackjacks only scoring seven points wasn’t enough and the Empire would leave Atlantic City still undefeated with a score of 35-55. The Blackjacks are back at home next Saturday at 3:30as they take on the Baltimore Brigade.