It was a cold, 35 degrees at kickoff time in the farthest north Stadium in the Alliance of American Football, Rice Eccles Stadium in Utah. Undefeated Orlando Apollos leave the confines of the warm weather coming to play the Stallions whose first two games were both road losses. They managed to grab a win last week at home against the Arizona Hotshots.
The Apollos did not get off to a good start against the stout backfield of the Stallions. After two consecutive losses, they ended up with a 3rd and 20; although they gained eight, it wasn’t enough. The defense was up to the task on their first stand; the Stallions looked like they were on the march until they stopped the Apollos at the 22. After the defensive stand, Gilbert had a wide-open man in De’Veon Smith, but the pass sailed overhead. As the quarter wound down, Elliot Fry kicked a 43-yard field goal to put the Apollo up 3-0. The Apollo only racked up 50 yards compared to the 108 by the Stallions and trailed them in total first downs, 2 to 5.
Despite giving up the early field goal to tie up the game at three, the Apollos have doubled their offensive output only halfway into the quarter. They had a penalty endanger the 37-yard kick after a false start (which drew the defense into the neutral zone). However, on the ensuing play, the Apollo managed to add on to their lead with a 42-yard field goal (for the leading kicker entering the game — with no signs of slowing down). In the closing minute of the quarter, it looked De’Veon Smith was going to gash the Stallions potentially for a touchdown but wasn’t able to stay in bounds. The Apollos end the half with 60 yards rushing and 87 yards passing, but only two field goals to show for it.
The third quarter brought the first touchdown of the game for the Apollos on a pass from Gilbert to Donteea Dye, Jr. for a 20-yard completion. The Apollo also converted the 2 point attempt (remember after a touchdown in the Alliance, teams must go for two) with a trick play that saw a pitch out wide right for an eventual completion from D’Ernest Johnson (RB) to Sean Price (TE). After scoring the touchdown, the Stallions’ offensive line started to control the game, leading to a touchdown by the rarely-used (in the first half) Joel Bouganon.
However, the Apollos responded early in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard rush by Akeem Hunt, who was also targeted for the 2-point conversion but fell short of the goal line. The final few minutes of the game had a lot back and forth, but no scoring.
Garrett Gilbert (8): Gilbert had a difficult start to the game, but put it together down the stretch. He ended up completing 22 of his 32 attempts for 244 yards and a touchdown.
WR of the game:
Charles Johnson (8): Although Johnson wasn’t able to find the endzone tonight, he had a tremendous game. He caught nine passes on the 12 targets he received for 105 yards.
The Apollo defense was Jeykl and Hyde in this one, they had some stretches where they were impenetrable, and others, where it looked like the Stallions, were going to run away with it. The Apollos were able to make the big plays when they mattered and kept the Stallions off the board.
Special Teams (6):
The Apollos special teams unit did what was expected of them with a few successful field goals, average net punt yardage of 40 yards or more. The return was non-existent (they totaled -5 yards with a muffed punt that was recovered for a loss).
Apollos’ Defensive Player of the Game:
Earl Okine (8): Okine “quietly” put together a massive game for the Apollos, with five combined tackles, a sack (for -1 yard), two quarterback hits, and three tackles for loss. (Andrew Ankrah was a close 2nd.)
Salt Lake Stallions
The game started with a nice defensive stand by the Salt Lake Stallions with a strong defensive possession ending up with the Apollos deep in their own territory with a 3 and 20 play. After the possession change, Branden Oliver hopped in the driver’s seat dragging the Stallions along. After starting with the ball at their own 18, they proceded to move methodically downfield fueled primarily by the run involving Oliver and Newby until coming up just short on the 22-yard line. The Stallion’s compiled 108 total yards in the quarter but ultimately trailed the Apollo by a score of 3-0.
Shortly into the second quarter (11:42) the Stallions tied it up with a 36-yard field goal. Defensively, the Stallions found a huge boon when a clear in the neutral zone infraction was waived off after a false start on the offense (Quinterrius Eatmon, RT). Another Apollo penalty aided the Stallions when they were flagged for pass interference (Marquez White, CB) for impeding Kaelin Clay as he was trying to get to the ball. The Stallions end the half with 39 yards rushing as well as 91 yards passing — but only three points to show for it.
The Stallions weren’t particularly impressive in the third quarter, as they weren’t able to get anything going. They tried to play the run game a lot but only ended up with a punt. After an injury scare to Karter Shult in the first half, the Stallions lost Anthony Denham for the remainder of the game, and Gianni Paul left with an apparent injury. A missed coverage saw a 45-yard pass nearly go for a touchdown before a penalty flag moved the Apollo back (for the moment) before they converted.
After giving up the touchdown (and successful 2-point conversion), the Stallions came out slinging the ball for a 13-yard gain to (WR) Kenny Bell. The next several snaps were dominated by Branden Oliver who is trying to build on his strong performance from last week. Joel Bouagnon saw limited action (1 snap) in the first half but has begun to emerge after converting a much-needed fourth down. He punctuated his return to action with a 9-yard touchdown run (2-point conversion successful, pass to Terrell Newby, RB) to bring the Stallions back within three points.
The fourth quarter was rough for the Stallions’ giving up some serious ground to the Apollos rush, including a 2-yard touchdown by Akeem Hunt. The Stallions were in this game up until the fourth quarter, but their offense came to a sputtering halt in the second half, scoring zero points.
Josh Woodrum (7): Woodrum was very efficient today, the offense just came to a standstill. He completed 16 of his 22 passes completing more than 70% of his passes for 161 yards. The problem was that he was sacked four times and he couldn’t power the team to the win.
RB of the game:
Branden Oliver (7): Oliver received the lion’s share of the rushing attempts with 17 for 71 yards averaging over four yards per carry.
WR of the game:
Brian Tyms (7): Tyms was the leading receiver for the Stallions with four receptions for 32 yards. That makes his emergence as a threat in such a short time very impressive; hopefully, he can continue to make progress. There were a few other receivers in this range, but ultimately, Tyms gets the edge over the others because he was just recently signed.
Defensively the Stallions looked outclassed with some major blown coverages and gaping holes that eventually led to both touchdowns. The secondary struggled in this game and while the line was able to provide some pressure in the first half, everything just kind of fizzled out after that.
Stallions’ Defensive player of the game:
Greer Martini (7): Martini was a dominant force in the first half of the game though he faded off a bit in the second half. It ended up being a close race between Gionni Paul, Micah Hannemann, and eventual winner Greer Martini. Martini won his selection based on nine combined tackles, two quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, and a pass deflection. He was a wrecking ball in the first half, not sure where he went the second half though….
Special Teams (6):
Much like their opponent, the special teams did their jobs and not a lot more. Austin Rehkow booted his way to a 52-yard average punt on four attempts, but there was little else worthy of note.
Last Updated: March 2, 2019