The undefeated Orlando Apollos continued to show they’re the top dog in the AAF with a convincing 21-17 victory over Memphis, in what was undoubtedly the game of the weekend.
The express put up a real challenge after switching quarterbacks in the second half but simply ran out. The Express aren’t anything to write home about just yet but the potential is clearly there.
Orlando kicked things off in quick fashion jumping to a 9-0 lead when the half time break arrived. The express really failed to get the chains moving throughout the entire first half thanks to a largely ineffective Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg went 8 of 11 for 88 yards and two interceptions, you can’t expect to win anything with numbers like that.
Fellow offensive baller Zac Stacy really struggled to get things going as well. Stacy only managed 29 yards on the ground from 14 attempts, so you’d be forgiven for thinking the Express’ problems were more than Hackenberg.
That was until Zach Mettenberger came in to throw a TD with his third touch of the ball.
With the score now sitting at 9-6, the Apollos went up a gear and ran riot to take the scoreline to 21-9 – which subsequently put the game just out of reach for Memphis.
Mettenberger did manage to find the endzone for a second time late on in a performance that has already doomed Hackenberg to the bench. Unfortunately for Mettenberger and the Express it came a too little too late as the Apollos ran out the clock for a comfortable win.
On the stat board, Mettenberger put up a 75% completion for 120 yards and two scores. His opposite number, Garrett Gilbert had a 50% pass completion with one touchdown through the air and another on the ground.
Overall this was one of the strongest quarterbacking halves of football I’ve seen so far in the AAF. Memphis may have just found a get out of jail free card.
Quarterbacks aside, D’Ernest Jones led the Apollos on the ground for a score, 79 yards on 13 carries (Apollos finished with 183 rushing yards overall). Meanwhile through the air the Apollos had production from Rannell Hall who took 4 targets into his grasp, netting 68 yards and a TD in the process.
Defensively, Orlando owe a lot to Andrew Ankrah, without him they may not have left with win in week 3. Ankrah’s 5 tackes, 1 sack and 3 QB pressures really helped both Earl Okine and Terrence Garvin pick the ball off.
For the Express, Zac Stacy had Sherman Badie to thank for carrying the teams running efforts as he took the rock 59 yards on 8 carries. In a similar vein to Rannen Hill of Orlando, Express receiver, Devin Lucien took in 3 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in an attempt to revive things for the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll.
Memphis were less explosive defensively than Orlando but that doesn’t mean they failed to put in a shift. Davis Tull made 4 tackles whilst also bringing in the teams only sack of the evening. Aside from Tull however, much of the defence felt very passive.
Hackenberg getting benched is the headline in this one, his career in the AAF seems all but over at this point and much like Matt Simms in Atlanta, it’s mind-boggling to see how either made it to a professional level in the first place.
The express at this point are still 0-3 but with Mettenberger behind the wheel I feel the Express may be about to give their fans something to cheer for.
The Apollos, thanks to a strong Memphis defensive performance had their poorest outing thus far. They’re still by far the team to beat in the league and we’ll see whether or not they can get 4-0 next week against the Stallions.