The Alliance of American Football officially kicked off this week with an incredibly lopsided blowout of a contest. Atlanta kept it close early, but ultimately ended up on the wrong side of an absolute slaughter. The Orlando Apollos outclassed Atlanta in all three phases of the game en route to a 40-6 victory.
AAF Week One Atlanta Legends vs Orlando Apollos Recap: Apollos Win 40-6
Earlier in the week, we wrote about how the Atlanta Legends were falling apart at the seams. Things didn’t look good for Atlanta entering Week One, but nobody could have seen anything like this happening. Matt Simms unexpectedly beat out Aaron Murray for the starting job, but he quickly lost the honor. Simms was lost in the offense, throwing for just 126 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. Murray came in late in the game but didn’t do anything to show he deserved the starting job. The homegrown hero completed four of his seven passes for 38 yards, no touchdowns, and one ugly interception.
On the other side of the ball, former NFL veteran Garrett Gilbert looked to have complete command of the offense. The 27-year old quarterback wasn’t asked to do much in this game because this one was basically over by halftime. However, he did everything head coach Steve Spurrier asked of him. The former Carolina Panthers passer completed 15 of his 25 passes for an efficient 227 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Gilbert also added a receiving touchdown in a play eerily similar to the now-famous “Philly Special”.
The “Orlando Special” ‼️
— Orlando Apollos (@aafAPOLLOS) February 10, 2019
The star of the Apollos offense was running back Akeem Hunt. The former Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs running back turned a few heads on Saturday, recording 73 yards on 10 carries for a highly efficient 7.3 yards per carry. Granted, 31 of those yards came on one single play. Still, it was an encouraging performance for Hunt which should help solidify his spot atop the Apollos depth chart.
In the passing game, former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson was the star of the show. Gilbert spread the ball around in the passing game, as 13 different players saw a target. However, Johnson was clearly the favorite, as the three-year NFL veteran recorded a team-high in receptions (four), targets (six) and yards (60). Johnson flashed some promise on the NFL stage and appears to have translated that potential to the AAF. He should remain the top target in Orlando’s offense moving forward.
The Legends didn’t have any standouts on the offensive side, primarily because the quarterbacking was so bad. The lone bright spot (relatively speaking) was running back Lawrence Pittman. Pittman saw just three carries on the day, but converted those opportunities into 24 yards and a long of 13. Tarean Folston saw the majority of the carries, but only recorded 2.7 yards-per-carry on 12 carries. Pittman could earn a larger share of the carries in Week Two.
As a whole, the Apollos defense was fantastic throughout the night. Atlanta had nowhere to run and the quarterbacks weren’t capable of finding anyone in the open field. However, the biggest standout of the day was linebacker Terence Gavin. Initially signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2013, Gavin bounced around the NFL without ever finding a home. However, the 28-year old made a big impact in his AAF debut. The linebacker recording two interceptions, taking one to the house for a pick-six. On his own, Gavin recorded as many points as the Legends offense.
Gavin was the star, but safety Bryce Canady recorded the game-ending interception on Aaron Murray. Canady went to college at Florida International but never played in a professional football game. His interception was a right-place, right-time play, but it was an encouraging confidence building which put a cherry on top of this absolute blowout.
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