The Orlando Apollos remain undefeated as they overcame the cold weather over the Salt Lake Stallions while the Memphis Express took a huge win at home over the San Diego Fleet to record its first victory at the Alliance of American Football on Saturday, March 2.
Garrett Gilbert and the Apollos recovered from a slow start to finish strong at the freezing weather at the Rice-Eccles Stadium and stay unblemished in four games over Salt Lake, 20-11.
After converting just two of their eight third downs in the first half to settle for a pair of field goals, Orlando rallied back in the final two quarters as they made three of their five third downs.
Gilbert, who has yet to pass an interception this season, threw a 20-yard score towards Donteea Dye Jr. for the game’s first touchdown in the third quarter.
“(The play) had been set up on that drive, I think, twice before, and Donteea did a really nice job running that route and was able to slip by (the defender),” Gilbert said after the match.
With the win, the Apollos improved its win-loss record to 4-0 while the Stallions dropped to 1-3.
Meanwhile, Memphis has finally come aboard the winning column for the first time ever as they snapped their three-game losing streak against San Diego, 26-23, at the Liberty Bowl Stadium.
Zach Mettenberger impressed in his first starting job under the center for the Express as he completed 18 of 25 passes for 175 yards and a 104.4 passer rating.
San Diego quarterback Philip Nelson’s exit in the first half proved to be a liability in the Fleet’s offense after he sustained a shoulder injury when he was hit by Express defensive end Corey Vereen with 5:54 left in the second quarter.
The Express rallied back from as much as a 14-point deficit, 6-20, after shutting down the Fleet in the third period, thanks to their offensive line who limited running back Ja’Quan Gardner to just six yards and nine attempts.
Memphis kicker Austin MacGinnis secured the victory for the Express after hitting the game-winning field goal from 45 yards out to nail all of his four attempts in his season debut.
“I like kicking game-winners. I hate studying for tests.
“I wanted to take some time off from work and focus on football. When you’re a pro, there’s no room to be thinking about anything else,” he said.
Memphis is now 1-3 in the season while San Diego moves back to .500 with a 2-2 card.
GAMES ON SUNDAY: Undefeated Birmingham Iron (3-0) will take on the San Antonio Commanders (1-2) at Legion Stadium on 4:00 pm ET while the Atlanta Legends (0-3) looks to end their own skid against the Arizona Hotshots (2-1) tries to hold on for a solo lead the the Western Conference.