Courtesy: Albany Empire Media Relations
Last Second Touchdown Lifts Soul over Empire
ALBANY, NY – The Albany Empire (5-4) was defeated by the Philadelphia Soul (5-4) 75-74 Saturday night at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY in front of a crowd of 9,534. Soul receiver Aaron Wascha caught 12 passes for 208 yards and seven receiving touchdowns earning himself the game MVP award. Empire receiver Malachi Jones had 7 receptions for 177 yards, five receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown on his way to being named Offensive Player of the Game. Empire mac linebacker Derrick Summers was named Defensive Player of the Game 4.5 total tackles and one sack.
The Empire received the opening kickoff and began the game on the five-yard line after a short return by Jordan Williams. After failing to connect on a bomb to receiver Joe Hills, Tommy Grady hit receiver Malachi Jones for a 45-yard touchdown to give the Empire an early 7-0 lead. Philadelphia took the ensuing kickoff to the 14-yard line and went to work on their first drive of the game. After an incomplete pass, defensive end Joe Sykes was able to apply pressure, but couldn’t bring down Soul quarterback Shane Austin who scrambled across midfield for a 15-yard gain. The next play, Philadelphia was in the red zone as Austin connected with the league’s leader in receiving yards, Darius Prince. Three plays later, Austin hooked up with Prince in the end zone for the short score to tie the game.
The Soul attempted an onside kick, but failed to recover it, setting up the Empire on the opposing 10-yard line. After an encroachment penalty on Philadelphia, Grady found Joe Hills from five yards out for the quick score. Hills’ trip to the end zone marked the 89th consecutive game of his career with a receiving touchdown; an active league record.
Philadelphia took over on their own 15-yard line after a nice kick return by Poppy Livers. The Soul were across midfield on the first play of the drive as Austin went right back to Prince. After making it to the red zone, the Soul were setback thanks to a sack by defensive end Nick Seither. One play later, Austin found Aaron Wascha to get down to the Empire three-yard line. Philadelphia was quickly backed up because of an offensive pass interference play, but Austin found Prince on the next play for the score to tie the game at 14.
Albany went back to work on their on 12-yard line as the first quarter came to an end. With the first play of the second quarter, Grady found Hills down field to set the Empire up on the opposing seven-yard line. After Albany successfully overturned a fumble call, Malachi Jones ran the ball in from four-yards out for the score. The Soul returned the ensuing kickoff to the two-yard line and two plays later, Austin connected with Wascha for the 48-yard touchdown to once again tie the game.
Due to a holding penalty on the Empire return, the Albany offense went back out to the field starting on their own three-yard line. After an illegal contact penalty on Philadelphia and two completions to Hills, the Empire were quickly across midfield. One play later, Grady found Hills in the end zone once again as he bobbled the ball but secured it for the score. Albany would then attempt an onside kick but failed to recover, setting Philadelphia up on the six-yard line. Three plays later, Austin found Wascha once again for the score.
After another failed onside kick attempt by the Soul, Albany went back to work in the red zone on the seven-yard line. One play after the one-minute warning, Grady found receiver Greg Carr for the short score. The Empire then attempted an onside kick of their own but failed to recover, giving the Soul the ball back on the Albany 15-yard line. After a defensive pass interference, Philadelphia inched down to the six-yard line after a short rush by Austin. Albany used three timeouts on consecutive plays as the Soul ran the ball down to the four-yard line to set up a fourth and goal situation, but Philadelphia was able to cap the drive off with a touchdown to Wascha; his third of the quarter. The Empire offense took the field with a mere 21 seconds remaining in the first half with no timeouts. Making quick work, Albany was across midfield thanks to catches from Hills and Jones who were both able to get out of bounds. Grady was then able to connect with Jones from 14-yards out for the Empire touchdown, leaving just five seconds on the clock before halftime. The Empire took a 41-34 lead into the half.
The Philadelphia offense took the field to start the half on their own five-yard line and were quickly helped by a roughing the passer penalty on Albany. After two incomplete passes, linebacker Derrick Summers was able to get to Austin for the sack, pushing Philadelphia back to their own 10-yard line for fourth and long. Unable to convert the yardage, Albany took over on downs on the opposing 23-yard line. One play later, Grady hit Jones for the 23-yard score.
The Soul made quick work of their next possession, crossing into Empire territory. On third down, defensive end Joe Sykes was caught offsides for the second time in the game, resulting in an automatic ejection. The following play, fullback Jeramie Richardson ran 20 yards for the Soul touchdown. The Albany offense picked up where they left off as Grady quickly finds Hills for the short gain to start the next drive. One play later, Grady found Jones for another deep throw as the two connected on a 40-yard touchdown; Jones’ fourth receiving touchdown of the game. With the first play of the next drive for the Soul, Austin hit Wascha who broke a tackle and ran for a 40-yard touchdown. The Empire would respond with a 45-yard touchdown to Hills on their first play.
After nearly losing the ball from bouncing off the bar, the Soul began their next possession with two rushing plays as the game entered the fourth quarter. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Austin found Wascha once again for the 32-yard score; his fifth of the game.
Albany opened their next drive with a quick-hitter to Jones already approaching midfield. One play later, Grady found Jones again for the 32-yard touchdown; his sixth total touchdown of the game. The Soul began their ensuing possession on their own five-yard line and were immediately helped by a couple of Empire penalties. After crossing midfield, Austin found Wascha again for the score from 13-yards out.
Albany recovered the Soul’s onside kick attempt and were quickly in the red zone threatening once again. Two plays later, Grady hit Carr on a fade in the corner of the end zone for the Empire touchdown pushing Albany to 74 points; the most points scored by any team on the season. After a short rushing attempt and two incomplete passes, the Soul were quickly forced into a fourth down and seven situation. Unable to pick up the yardage, Albany took over on downs in the red zone on the nine-yard line. After running down some clock, the Empire failed to get into the end zone, turning the ball over on downs back to the Soul. Within two plays, Philadelphia was across midfield and threatening once again. One play later, Austin found Wascha once again for his seventh receiving touchdown of the game.
The Soul recovered the ensuing onside kick and took over on their own 12-yard line down by five. After pushing across midfield in two plays, the Soul were threatening once again with little time left on the clock. From the 10-yard line, Austin took a shot at the end zone that fell incomplete leaving less than one second on the clock. On the following play, Austin rolled out and found Prince for the 10-yard score as time expired.
Albany Empire 2018 Inaugural Season Presented By CDPHP.
|June 16, 2018||3:00 pm||Arena Football League||2018||9,534|
|Times Union Center|
|51 S Pearl St, Albany, NY 12207, USA|