Albany Empire Press Release
ALBANY, NY – The Albany Empire (5-2) defeated the Baltimore Brigade (5-2) 61-53 Saturday night at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY in front of a crowd of 8,057. Empire quarterback Tommy Grady threw for 248 yards and eight touchdowns earning himself the game MVP award. Empire receiver Malachi Jones had eight receptions for 133 yards and three receiving touchdowns on his way to being named Offensive Player of the Game. Empire’s jack linebacker Terence Moore was named Defensive Player of the Game for the second straight week with 4.5 total tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.
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Albany received the opening kickoff and went to work on their own six-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Tommy Grady hit receiver Malachi Jones over the middle who then broke a tackle and took it to the house for a 44-yard touchdown for the early lead. The Brigade took the field on the 20-yard line after a nice return by Brandon Thompkins. After one play, Randy Hippeard found receiver Quentin Sims for a short pass and the Brigade were across midfield. A few plays later, Hippeard over threw his receiver and hit the field goal post only to be intercepted by linebacker Terence Moore. Shortly after, the Empire turned the ball over on downs giving the ball back to the Brigade on the short side of midfield. Two plays later Hippeard found Sims for a nine-yard score to tie the game 7-7.
The Empire took over on their own seven-yard line and Grady quickly found Jones who used his elusiveness to push the ball to midfield. After the quarter break, Grady found his favorite target Joe Hills for a 13 score. This touchdown marked the 87th consecutive game with a receiving touchdown for Hills. Albany failed to recover an onside kick setting up the Brigade with great field position on the opposing seven-yard line. One play later, Baltimore capitalized with a short touchdown to Brandon Thompkins.
Albany went back to work from their own seven-yard line and were quickly across midfield in one play thanks to an impressive diving catch by Jones. Two plays later, Jones found pay dirt for the second time of the half on a 17-yard pass from Grady.
Due to the Empire kickoff going out of bounds, Baltimore was set up on their own 20-yard line. Two plays later, Hippeard found receiver Milton Williams and the Brigade were quickly across midfield. The next play, Hippeard went right back to Williams, moving Baltimore into the red zone. Hippeard then found receiver Brandon Collins for the short touchdown as Collins held onto the ball while flipping over the wall.
After the drive started on their own two-yard line, Grady found receiver Collin Taylor for a 48-yard touchdown on the first play of the new possession to reclaim the lead 27-21 with only a minute remaining in the half. The Empire failed to recover another onside kick, setting the Brigade up on the six-yard line. Baltimore made quick work of the short field as Hippeard connected with Thompkins for a two-yard touchdown.
Baltimore successfully recovered an onside kick and went back to work on their own 11-yard line. Thanks to a successful challenge by Head Coach Rob Keefe, Moore forced and recovered a fumble one play later to get the ball back on the opposing 14-yard line. After three consecutive run plays to Jones and a kneel by Grady, Baltimore had burned through their timeouts. One play later, Grady found Jones once again for the six-yard score; Jones’ third touchdown of the half. Baltimore returned the Empire kickoff and thanks to an unsportsmanlike penalty, were set up on the opposing 17-yard line. The Brigade ended the half with a 32-yard field goal to end the half still behind 33-31.
The Brigade began the second half with possession from their own five-yard line. Hippeard found Collins on consecutive throws as Baltimore pushed into Empire territory. Quickly reaching the red zone, Hippeard connected with Collins for a nine-yard score to take the lead. In response, the Empire easily moved the ball down field thanks to a spectacular catch over the sideline wall by Jones. Grady then connected with Hills once again for four-yard score to go back on top 40-38.
On the ensuing kickoff, Thompkins fumbled the ball back to the Empire, giving Albany great field position on the Brigade side of the field. Taking advantage of the turnover, Albany scored on a four-yard hookup from Grady to Greg Carr. The Brigade received the Empire kickoff and took over on the two-yard line as the third quarter came to a close. To open the quarter, defensive lineman Brandon Sesay got to Hippeard for a strip sack. The ball was recovered by Darryl Cato-Bishop in the end zone for another Empire touchdown.
The Brigade were setup on their own 15-yard line after another nice return by Thompkins. On the first play of the drive, Baltimore was across midfield after a screen pass to Collins. Hippeard then found Sims to advance the Brigade into the red zone. Two plays later, Baltimore was in the end zone after a one-yard rush by Hippeard. The Brigade was successful on their two-point conversion attempt, bringing them within a touchdown.
After a failed Brigade onside kick, the Empire went to work on the opposing 14-yard line. The Empire took their time burning away precious seconds on the clock. Grady then connected with Hills for his third touchdown of the game giving Albany a 61-46 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
Baltimore went back to work in a hurry-up offense quickly advancing the ball down the field. The Brigade were able to punch the ball in wasting little time on a 23-yard connection from Hippeard to Williams.
Collin Taylor recovered the Brigade onside kick attempt and the Empire offense took over on the 12-yard line with a minute remaining in the game. The Empire were quickly back in the red zone, but in no hurry to score. After three consecutive kneel-downs by Grady, the game was over, securing the Empire’s fifth straight victory 61-53.