ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – The Baltimore Brigade defeated the Atlantic City Blackjacks, 35-28, after a back-and-forth fourth quarter at the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall to close the regular season Sunday afternoon. The Brigade finished the regular season 7-5 and enter the 2019 AFL playoffs as the fourth seed to take on the number one seed Albany Empire (10-2) for the home-and-home playoff series. Baltimore will play the first game of the series at Times Union Center on Saturday, July 27 at 7:00 p.m. and will host the Empire for the second game of the series on Saturday, August 3 at 7 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD. The team with the highest aggregate score will advance to the ArenaBowl held on Sunday, August 11 at 8:00 p.m.

The game came down to the final minute after both teams traded scores for the entire fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Shane Morris threw a 20-yard pass to wideout Milton Williams for the game-winning touchdown.  Defensive back Joe Powell sealed Baltimore’s victory when he intercepted Atlantic City’s pass with four seconds remaining on the clock. 

Powell scored two of Baltimore’s three touchdowns in the first half. He also hauled in four tackles (three solo), one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception, and two touchdowns. Backup quarterback Morris who was switched out for quarterback Shane Boyd at the start of the half, completed seven passes for 61 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Boyd finished with 16 passes for 109 yards and one touchdown.

Baltimore took on the Blackjacks missing five players, including three starters. Wideout Brandon Collins suffered a knee injury last week, while wide receivers Joe Hills and Maurice Morgan and defensive backs Josh Victorian and Kenric Young were all placed on league suspension.

Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter with Atlantic City only having the ball for less than two minutes. The Brigade shaved off nine minutes in their opening possession and a big tackle from defensive back Jamal Robinson forced Atlantic City to fumble the ball on their only possession of the quarter. Robinson racked up four tackles, all solo, one forced fumble, and one interception.

The Brigade separated themselves with a 21-7 score by the end of the second quarter, with Powell bringing in two touchdowns and defensive lineman Darryl Cato-Bishop making two critical stops. Powell was the first to add points to the board after forcing an Atlantic City fumble and returning the ball six yards for a score. Atlantic City answered with a touchdown of their own, then wide receiver Ervin Philips brought down an 18-yard pass for the first touchdown of his career. After Atlantic City was sacked by Cato-Bishop for a loss of 8 yards, the Blackjacks attempted a field goal, but the ball landed in the hands of Powell who returned it 56 yards for his second touchdown of the night.

The contest blew open after halftime when the Blackjacks scored 14 unanswered points and Baltimore went scoreless in the third quarter, tying the game 21-21 in the fourth. The teams traded scores with fullback Rory Nixon hauling in a two-yard touchdown and Williams scoring the game-winning 20-yard touchdown. The game ended 35-28 after a Powell interception.

Brigade Head Coach Omarr Smith

Comments on game performance

“It was a very interesting week that translated into a very interesting game. There are some guys who really stepped up, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Joe Powell and our defensive lineman played well. Our offensive line did a great job of protecting. There are a lot of things we can get better at, we were sloppy. We have to find a way to clean that up, but we won the game and that was our mission.”

Comments on Joe Powell performance

“Joe is an absolute playmaker.  Considering who we had on offense, he started at wide receiver today. That’s a testament to him and his athletic ability and his leadership to go out and try to make any play that he could. He was great on special teams and defensively he made some significant plays. A lot of people will give him credit for the interception at the end of the game, but the play before that was huge. If he wasn’t just a ball hog and made the play that he did, they could have scored and that would have been a whole different outcome of the game. The little things that Joe Powell does in addition to the big things are remarkable.”

Comments on facing Albany in the playoffs

“We need to have a gut check offensively. Playing against Albany, they are the best team in the league at 10-2. We have to go out on the road, in a hostile environment and play the best team in the league. It’s going to be a good, hard week of preparation and we’ll see what happens.”