Courtesy: Albany Empire Media Relations
Albany Wins 35-19 in Home Opener
ALBANY – The Albany Empire (1-0) defeated the Destroyers (0-1), 35-19, in front of 11,682 fans at the Times Union Center. Empire quarterback Tommy Grady went 25 of 34 passes for 230 yards and four passing touchdowns earning himself the game MVP award. Empire receiver Malachi Jones led all receivers with 11 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, being named Offensive Player of the Game. Empire defensive end, Joe Sykes, had 2.5 total tackles, one sack, and one blocked extra point, being named Defensive Player of the Game.
Columbus received the game’s opening kickoff and began on their own eight-yard line after a return by receiver Anthony Amos. On the first play of the game, quarterback Danny Southwick connected with receiver Paul Revis for a quick first down. On the following play, Southwick found receiver Jenson Stoshak who was hit behind the line for a three-yard loss. After an incomplete pass, Southwick found Revis downfield for another first down to get the Destroyers into Empire territory. Following an incomplete pass on first down and a short gain on second down, Southwick fumbled the snap and the ball was picked up by Jeramie Richardson to turn the ball over to Albany.
On first down, Grady found Demetres Stephens for an 11-yard pick up a quick first down. From the Albany 19-yard line, Grady found Stephens on another quick-hitter to push the ball to midfield. Following an offsides penalty on the Destroyers, Grady connected with Stephens for the third time in a row who maneuvered his way down to the Columbus 6-yard line. The next play, Grady handed the ball off to fullback, Mykel Benson Sr., who plowed his way into the end zone for the Empire’s first score of the season.
After nearly botching the ensuing kickoff, the Destroyers began their second drive from their own five-yard line. Following a throwaway by Southwick, the quarterback connected with Revis on a nice gain to move the ball near midfield. After another Destroyer first down, Southwick found Stoshak in the end zone for six. The extra point attempt was blocked by Sykes, keeping the Empire in the lead 7-6 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Beginning on their own eight-yard line, the Empire opened the team’s second drive up with a short gain to receiver, Quentin Sims. On second down, Grady connected with last season’s Wide Receiver of the Year, Jones, for an Empire first down. The first quarter came to a close after Grady’s first incomplete pass of the night. At the start of the second quarter, Grady found Stephens once again to move the ball into Destroyer territory. After a short pass to Jones, Grady found Jones again through a tight window to get the Empire into the red zone. On first down, Grady hit Jones for the third consecutive pass who ran down to the one-yard line. Following a loss of a yard on second down, and an incomplete pass on third down, the Empire turned the ball over on downs.
The Destroyers took over on their own two-yard line, but Southwick was quickly picked off by last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Terence Moore. One play later, Grady found Sims for a six-yard touchdown. Starting on their own nine-yard line, found Amos open down the sideline for a big gain, setting up the Destroyers on the Empire 11-yard line. Following a no-gain Southwick hit Amos again to move the ball to the three-yard line. After a one-yard gain and a penalty, Southwick was leveled by Sykes, who adds to his all-time League career sack record. With under a minute to play, Grady found Jones to move the ball across midfield as the clock continued to wind. One play later, Grady once again hit Jones who climbed the ladder over Columbus defensive back, Varmah Sonie, for another Empire touchdown to take the lead, 21-6. With five seconds remaining in the half, Southwick was chased out of the pocket and out of bounds to send the game to halftime.
Albany began with the ball on their own five-yard line after a return by Stephens. On the first play of the second half, Grady threw a dart to Jones over the middle for a quick first down. The Empire picked up another first down on three plays, two rushes by Benson and a short gain by Stephens, to cross midfield. On first down, Grady found Sims on the sideline who managed his way down to the Columbus six-yard line. After nearly being picked off in the end zone, Grady hit Stephens for a short gain on second down. Following an Empire penalty, Grady found Sims from seven yards out in the end zone to extend the lead to 28-6.
Starting on their own eight-yard line, Sykes once again muscled his way to Southwick, forcing a fumble that was picked up by a Destroyer lineman and advanced out of the end zone. Two plays later, Southwick was picked off by defensive back, Arkeith Brown giving the Empire offense the ball back on the Destroyer 15-yard line. One play later, Grady connected with receiver, Christian Briggs, for his first ever reception and touchdown in the AFL to widen the gap, 35-6.
Behind by four scores, Columbus had a nice return on the ensuing kickoff, setting up their offense on their own 21-yard line. One play later, new inserted quarterback, Grant Russell, found Stoshak deep down field for the 29-yard touchdown. Albany began on their own five-yard line after the Columbus kickoff traveled through the slack net. Following an incomplete pass and a short gain by Stephens, Grady found his top target over the middle as Jones gave the Empire a first down. On the next play, Grady hit Sims who crossed midfield and brought the ball to the Columbus 16-yard line as the third quarter wrapped up. Following a short gain to open the fourth quarter, Grady was intercepted by Sonie in the end zone.
Columbus opened their next possession with two quick plays to cross midfield. After a short rushing gain by Russell, the quarterback found his tight end, Miles Mason, who muscled down to the one-yard line. Following two incomplete passes and a loss of yards, Russell was unable to handle the snap and turned the ball over on downs. Right away, Grady once again hit Jones, who broke free and ran the ball near midfield to the 21-yard line. After two consecutive incomplete passes, Grady completed a pass to wide receiver, Collin Taylor, who made his first catch of the game, just short of the first down marker. Albany was unable to pick up the necessary yardage on fourth down, turning it back over to Columbus. Capitalizing on the turnover, Russell hit Amos down field to bring the Destroyers into the red zone. Two plays later, Russell rushed ahead for the score. Two-point conversion attempt was no good, bringing the score to 35-19 in Albany’s favor with under two minutes remaining in the game.
After a short kick that gave the Empire the ball near midfield, Grady quickly hit Jones for a short gain prior to the 30-second stoppage in play. The offense then took victory formation as Grady knelt and time expired with an Empire win, 35-19.
Albany Empire 2019 Season Presented By CDPHP.
|April 27, 2019||4:00 pm||Arena Football League||2019||11,682|
|Times Union Center|
|51 S Pearl St, Albany, NY 12207, USA|