Orlando- The Orlando Apollos went into this weekends match-up standing as the only undefeated team in the AAF. That distinction as the only ended as the Arizona Hotshots dealt Orlando their first loss of the season 22-17.
But it was the win did not come with some late-game excitement and even a bit of controversy. For the first three-quarters things were not that exciting but as we entered the fourth quarter things got very interesting.
As I said it was a game of ebbs and flows that went all the way down till the final moments of a wild fourth quarter. Arizona took charge as the clock ticked down.
Hotshots running back Jay Pressley scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:59 remaining in the game and Arizona’s two-point conversion pushed the lead to five at 22-17. After a quick change of possessions, things got very interesting with about two minutes left in regulation.
Over the year’s it is the two-minute drill that has made Steve Spurrier’s famous for his ability to pull games out in those final minutes.
So, the Apollos offense got one more chance to get the winning touchdown. Orlando quarterback Garrett Gilbert completed a deep pass to tight end Sean Price for 48 yards.
Racing the clock with only with 19 seconds remaining, he hooked up on another 26-yarder to receiver Jalin Marshall, who was tackled at the Arizona eight-yard line with no time outs.
Next came the controversy: as the Apollos ran to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock with only eight seconds on the clock,they were not completely set, drawing an illegal procedure call. The penalty ended the game, because the rule required “a 10-second runoff,” as time ran out with the Orlando offense standing less than 20 yards from the Arizona goal line.
A crowd of 18,000 stood silent as they looked the clock that read all zero’s and a chance for a miracle finish gone. It was a punch to the gut to all Orlando coaches, players and fans.
“The Head Ball Coach,” opened his Post-game conference by stating “We didn’t play well enough, didn’t coach well enough. I made a couple of bad calls on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 but we still had a fighting chance at it. That’s how it works out sometimes.” He then added we didn’t play our best,”
The loss puts Orlando at 5-1 and they remain in first place with a game and a half lead over the Birmingham Irons in the Eastern conference. Meanwhile, Arizona even their record at 3-3 in the AAF West.
Apollos: Get a rematch with Atlanta March 23rd game time 2 pm and fans can see the game on TNT.
Hotshots: At home versus the San Diego Fleet Sunday, March 24th.