After witnessing a tragic shooting in the team hotel in Green Bay the night before the game, the Pirates decided to play Sunday evening as they took on the Green Bay Blizzard at the Resch Center. They ultimately came up short in a thrilling ending by a score of 40-36.
The Blizzard got the scoring started with a 29-yard field goal by Henry Nell to make it 3-0 Green Bay early in the first quarter. After unsuccessful drives by each team, the Pirates offense caught a spark with a Justin Stockton 15-yard reception to set them up on the 1-yard line. The Pirates got on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run by Alejandro Bennifield on a quarterback sneak to make it 7-3 as time expired in the first quarter.
Green Bay answered immediately as Trevon Saunders picked up a rolling squib kick in the back of the endzone and took it all the way to the endzone for a Blizzard touchdown, giving them a 10-7 lead.
Alejandro Bennifield then led the Pirates offense downfield with a methodical drive and capped it off with his second rushing touchdown of the game on a crucial 4th and goal from the 3-yard line, giving the Pirates a 14-10 lead.
Before the half, the Blizzard rode their defense and the foot of Nell as they had a 28-yard field goal, the IFL’s first deuce of the season on a kickoff, a safety, and a 41-yard field goal all within 26 seconds. This brought them into halftime with a 20-14 lead.
The Blizzard continued the momentum to start the second half as running back Kerrion Moore ran for a 7-yard touchdown on an option play to make it 27-14. The Pirates followed that up with a 10-yard touchdown catch by Demarcus Ayers in his first game with the team, cutting the Green Bay lead to 7.
The Pirates defense gave them 2 more points with a sack by J.D. Griggs and Martrell Spaight as the momentum seemed to shift in the Pirates’ direction. Bennifield then ran yet another touchdown in from 7 yards out for his third of the game. The two point attempt was no good, making the score 28-27 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was as exciting as you can get as the Pirates rack up another safety and another Bennifield rushing touchdown as he broke a quarterback sneak for 6 yards. With the score now 36-27 in favor of the Pirates, the Blizzard offense started to figure it out, scoring on a 3-yard reception by wide receiver Eric Thomas Jr. after quarterback Damion May got them near the goal line with a 24-yard rush. After the PAT, the Pirates led by just 2 as it was now 36-34.
The Blizzard then recovered their onside kick with under two minutes to go, giving them the ball down by two points. Damion May took matters into his hands as he rushed for a first down on 3rd and 8. On the next play, on a botched snap, May picked the ball up, scrambled around in the backfield and fired the ball downfield to Kezlow Smith for the go-ahead 24-yard touchdown, making the score 40-36 in favor of the Blizzard with just over 30 seconds to go. The Pirates attempted to score on their final drive, but after a reception by Ayers, an attempted lateral to keep the game alive was recovered by Dajon Emory of the Blizzard to secure their 40-36 victory.
The now 1-1 Pirates’ next matchup is Saturday, May 8th at 7:05 PM EST against the 1-0 Bismarck Bucks at the Bismarck Event Center.
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