SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego Fleet (1-1) rally from behind to defeat the Atlanta Legends (0-2), 24-12, in their home opener of Week 2 in the Alliance of American Football.
Atlanta got things rolling early with quarterback Matt Simms completing 6 of 8 passes for 72 yards and a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Malachi Jones.
Prior to the touchdown, place kicker Younghoe Koo hit a 29-yard field goal to put the Legends up 9-0.
The score eventually evened out to 9-9 after Fleet kicker Donny Hageman hit three consecutive field goals from 46, 43, and 26 yards in the third quarter.
Once the Legends took a 12-9 lead early in the fourth quarter Fleet knew that they must change the game plan to come back into the game.
That is when head coach Mike Martz turned to the ground game with quarterback Philip Nelson completing only 14 of 30 passes for 142 yards.
Later in the fourth quarter running back Terrell Watson rushed five times for 30 yards and Ja’Quan Gardner had 28 yards on three carries with an 8-yard touchdown as the Fleet moved the chains to take a 15-12 lead with 9:04 remaining.
The Fleet defense stopped the Legends and the offense hit the ground running once again. Gardner who made a swift move around a defender pushed 31 yards down the field to the Legends 7-yard line. A few plays later he punched his way into the endzone to extend the Fleet lead 21-12 with 4:00 left in the game.
The two touchdowns scored in the fourth quarter were the first of the season for the Fleet. Hageman also hit another field goal 33 yards out to seal the deal with less than a minute left in the game.
Gardner rushed for a total of 104 yards on 15 carries and the Fleet defense remained solid throughout the game holding Atlanta to just three points.
Sunday’s game marked the first professional football game at SDCCU Stadium in 777 days after the San Diego Chargers relocated to the city of Los Angeles ending a 56-year stay in America’s Finest City (1961-2016).
The fans didn’t exactly fill every seat in the stadium but the 20,019 people in attendance were electrifying during every second of the Fleet’s first victory in San Diego.