It was an exciting opening weekend for the Alliance of American Football this past weekend. They celebrated their opening weekend with some exciting football. And Sunday night’s matchup between the visiting Salt Lake Stallions and Arizona Hotshots was certainly that. In front of their home crowd, the Arizona Hotshots outpaced the Salt Lake Stallions 38-22.
AAF Week One Salt Lake Stallions vs Arizona Hotshots: Hotshots win 38-22
The Salt Lake Stallions and Arizona Hotshots put up the most total points from this past weekend’s AAF games. While the game didn’t lack scoring, there were several key defensive plays by the Hotshots that helped them take home a victory on Sunday night.
While Salt Lake was able to put up 22 points in the game, it was the Hotshots that had control of this game. A sound offensive game plan by the Hotshots helped them keep control of this game and take a home a victory.
But it wasn’t just the offense that helped the Hotshots get the win. The Hotshots defense, especially the play of their defensive line, helped contain the Stallions offense. The defensive front of the Hotshots put enough pressure on the Stallions quarterbacks to create two interceptions. The execution of the offense and the turnovers created by their defense gave the Hotshots a complete victory.
In our preview of this matchup, we made the mistake by claiming that the Arizona Hotshots would be starting their top draft pick Trevor Knight at quarterback. Not only was it an error but turned out to be a slap in the face to John Wolford, the actual Hotshots starter.
Wolford illustrated why Hotshots head coach Rick Neuheisel made the right call by making Wolford the starter. The former Wake Forest product made the most of his first start as the Arizona Hotshots starting quarterback. If there was an MVP of this game, it was Wolford.
Wolford went 18 of 29 for 275 yards with four touchdown passes, rushing for two two-point conversions and most importantly, never threw an interception. With having less than 30 days to learn the Hotshots offense, Wolford’s play was quite impressive. His top target was wide receiver Rashad Ross. Ross was targeted seven times, catching five passes for 103 yards with two receiving touchdowns.
On the ground, running back Jhurell Pressley led the Hotshots with 64 yards on 18 carries. He also chipped in one catch for 30 yards and one receiving touchdown. He rushed for one two-point conversion and had another one receiving.
Salt Lake Stallions
Unfortunately, for the Stallions offense, they were outshined by the Hotshots offense on Sunday. While the Stallions offense didn’t play poorly by any means, they were done in by turnovers.
Starting Stallions quarterback Josh Woodrum was forced out of the game at the end of the first half with a hamstring injury. But before departing, he went 10 of 22 for 103 passing yards with one touchdown pass and helped convert two two-point conversions (one through the air and one on the ground). Unfortunately for Stallions head coach Dennis Erickson, Woodrum also had one costly interception.
Woodrum was relieved by quarterback Matt Linehan. The son of former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, Matt Linehan finished the game going 7 of 13 for 56 yards with one touchdown but also threw one interception. While Woodrum played decently, Linehan showed a stronger arm than Woodrum. It will be interesting to see who Erickson will start next week if Woodrum is healthy enough to go.
Leading the Stallions in receiving was Anthony Denham. The former University of Utah product finished the game with five catches for 59 yards.
The standout group for the Stallions was their running backs. It appears that they have a solid tandem in Brandon Oliver and Joel Bouagnon. The duo carried the ball 24 times for 79 yards and one rushing two-point conversion. Former Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata contributed one rushing touchdown as well.
Arizona Hotshots defensive tackle Will Sutton showed why he was selected in the third round by the Chicago Bears. He was a standout on the Hotshots defensive line. He finished the game with four total tackles, (one for a loss), and one sack. He also contributed two quarterback hits.
The Hotshots defense also created two very crucial interceptions. Linebacker Steven Johnson and defensive back Robert Nelson each had an interception.
Salt Lake Stallions
While the Stallions defense struggled at times, Greer Martini can’t be blamed. The linebacker from Notre Dame led the Stallions with six total tackles, one of which was for a loss. He also had one of two Stallions sacks in the game.