Memphis, TN – Fans, waiting for Johnny Manziel (2) led the offense, were disappointed to see his limited usage. But the Memphis Express (2-5) faithful were rewarded by a 31-25 comeback overtime victory over the Birmingham Iron (4-3) lead by quarterback Brandon Silvers (12).
Silvers clinch the victory in overtime with a 10-yard, goal-line pass to wide receiver Daniel Williams (86). This came after the Iron’s OT attempt, that the AAF starts from the 10-yard line and doesn’t allow field goals, yielded two incomplete passes, a sack for an 8-yard loss and a final Hail Mary that fell ineffectually to the turf.
Silvers put up 266 yards passing, going 24 of 35 with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“Right now, Brandon is our quarterback, and I don’t want to start a quarterback controversy or what have you,” Singletary said. “I’m very very excited about what Johnny does and what he brings to the team, but Brandon’s our starting quarterback.”
Things were looking pretty dire for Memphis, halfway through the 3rd quarter, being down to the Iron 19 to 8. The turning point came from a Birmingham series that was halted by a holding penalty. The ensuant punt was blocked by Express linebacker DeMarquis Gates (58), scooped and returned for a touchdown by defensive back Terrell Bonds (21). Reducing their deficit to 5.
The Iron score again in the fourth with a 4-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Luiz Perez (12) to tight-end Wes Saxton (83) to make it 25-14. The Express answered by putting up a field goal, and with 24 seconds left in the game, a TD pass to Reece Horn (17) and subsequent two-point conversion pass to Brandon Barnes (80) tied it up and sent the game to overtime. A first for the AAF.
Horn was the most productive receiver of the night with 113 yards off of 7 receptions. Followed by Alton Howard (81) with 3 receptions for 55 yards and Williams’ 5 for 30.
Rushing was low for the Express, with only 41 yards total. In fact, Manziel had the highest rushing total for Memphis scrambling twice for 20 yards. Manziel was in for the last series in the second quarter and two in the third. Which resulted in a missed field goal attempt and two punts. He went 3 of 5 for 48 yards and was sack twice for 11 yards.
“This is the best room I’ve ever been in,” said Manziel, “we came back and won the game, and that’s all that matters.”
Another area that Memphis is going to have to improve is their penalties. They were penalized 14 times for a total of 111 yards. Many of which coming at inopportune times, giving some stalled drives of Birmingham new life and hurting them on the scoreboard.
The Express came away with a much-needed win before having to face a 6 and 1 Orlando Apollos team next Saturday, March 30 in Memphis. Birmingham also plays at home for their Sunday game against the Atlanta Legends (2-5).