The first games for the initial Alliance of American Football (AAF) week are in the books. For this game, the San Diego Fleet traveled to the Alamodome to face the San Antonio Commanders. It was a fitting matchup to start the season for these teams, as both had military backgrounds. True to the military theme, it was a tightly played game that was surprisingly clean for it being one of the first ever games played. In the end, the Commanders defense was too much for the Fleet, as they fell 15-6.
Week One AAF Recap: San Diego Fleet at San Antonio Commanders
San Diego Fleet
One early standout on offense was running back Ja’Quan Gardner. Gardner took his first AAF carry for 25 yards, giving the Fleet offense some momentum. His success prompted the Fleet to give him the ball the next three plays as well. Just in that four-play span, he had three carries for 40 yards and one catch for eight yards as well. For some reason, that was the only action he got in the first half.
He finally saw some more action in the second half, getting 11 yards on his first third-quarter carry. However, he was bottled up after that. On the game, he totaled eight rushes for 55 yards and caught two catches for 17 yards.
In the passing game, San Diego struggled mightily. They had no answer for the Fleet’s pass rush, and quarterback Mike Bercovici was sacked five times in the first half alone. After throwing his second interception he was benched for backup Phillip Nelson. The game was already basically out of hand, but Nelson showed better poise than Bercovici. Nelson finished the game five of ten for 68 yards and an interception, compared to Bercovici’s 15 of 25 for two interceptions.
Tight end Gavin Escobar was a bright spot in the passing game, leading the team with two catches for 40 yards in the first half. He ended the game tied with Brian Brown with 66 yards. Dontez Ford also has the longest catch of the night, a 32-yard grab that gave him 56 yards on the night.
Defense was where the Fleet really shined in this game. It started off with Damontre Moore getting a sack the first drive. Then Ryan Moeller got a finger on a pass to force it incomplete and save a touchdown. He didn’t stop there, as the next time the Commanders had the ball, he picked off a pass. Later, however, he got completely burned on a long pass that set up the Commanders with first and goal from about the one-yard line. Still, he ended up leading the team in tackles with five.
The announcers were talking up Ron Brooks at the beginning of the second half, and then right on cue, he scored an interception in the end zone. The team started to get gassed towards the end of the game with the Fleet offense not able to do much. Still, it was a promising showing from the defense that they will look to build on.
Like San Diego, the Commanders had their share of struggles on the offensive side. However, they were able to overcome them. Logan Woodside was able to shake off two interceptions to throw for 255 yards. He was much more mobile than Bercovici and able to get out of the pass rush.
Mekale McKay quickly became his favorite target. Though he only connected with him five times, Woodside gave him a staggering 12 targets. “Big play McKay” was the leading receiver for both teams, racking up 80 receiving yards. Alonzo Moore also made his mark, totaling 78 yards receiving, including a 46-yard bomb that fell just short of the goal line. Greg Ward Jr. was second on the team in targets with nine, making five catches for 65 yards. The former college quarterback also attempted one throw, though unfortunately, it went incomplete.
Aaron Green was the team’s leading rusher with 43 yards on six totes. Though Kenneth Farrow was given 14 carries, he only managed 37 yards. David Cobb was honestly the biggest standout. He started the second half for the Commanders and was bowling over guys. He totaled 36 yards on the ground.
The defense made life hard for the San Diego Fleet offense the entire night. The Commanders had six sacks in the game, including five in the first half. Linebacker Shaun Washington accounted for two of the sacks, and Winston Craig was in on a few as well. Orion Stewart got the first interception of Bercovici, followed by De’Vante Bausby. Then Zack Sanchez clinched the game with an interception off of Nelson in the end zone.
Last Word on San Diego Fleet at San Antonio Commanders Week One Game
Despite the low scoring ending, it was an entertaining affair from start to finish. Moving forward, the Fleet will turn the reigns over to Nelson at quarterback, who looked a lot better than Bercovici once he came in. The team should also start leaning on the run game some more, as Gardner seems like the team’s best offensive player. On the Commander’s side, the team will just look to tighten things up on offense. Woodside showed potential, he just needs to get more on the same page with his receivers, especially with McKay. The defensive side for both teams will try to build off their performance.
Football is back… or it never really went away!
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