For the second time in back-to-back games in front of a national TV audience, Josh Gable made a game winning field goal as time expired giving the Massachusetts Pirates a 38-37 victory over the Frisco Fighters. The win Saturday night at the Comerica Center moved the Pirates to 5-3 on the season. The upset was the first loss of the season for Frisco (5-1) knocking them from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Gable gave the Pirates a 37-34 win over Tucson two weeks ago with a 46-yard field goal. This time a 27-yarder did the trick in Frisco.
The Game of the Week lived up to its billing. The Pirates took the opening kickoff and drove to the Frisco 16, but the drive was halted when quarterback Alejandro Bennifield’s pass was picked off by Sir’vell Ford. Three plays later Harlan Miller of the Pirates returned the favor as Fighters quarterback Jonathan Bane threw his first interception of the season. That gave Massachusetts a first and goal at the seven. Running back Martez Carter took the next handoff and raced into the end zone to open the scoring with 8:16 on the clock. Josh Gable’s point after made it 7-0.
The Fighters Marques Rodgers almost tied the game, returning the kickoff to the Pirates two-yard line. DeMarcus Felton’s two-yard run tied the affair but the Pirates ended the quarter taking a 14-7 lead with a six play, 44-yard march. Bennifield capped it off with a six-yard TD pass to R.J. Turner. For Turner it was his first touchdown of the season.
Frisco tied it up with a Bane to Rodgers six-yard touchdown pass and then after a missed 53-yard field goal by Gable, the Fighters grabbed their first lead of the night as Jarrod Heard came in at quarterback to jumpstart the Frisco running game. Heard ran the last 25 yards of a 35-yard drive including the final ten for a score. The extra point by Kristov Martinez was no good, leaving the score at 20-14.
Massachusetts came right back with a six play, 42-yard drive featuring Pirates receiver Thomas Owens. Owens had three catches, with the most spectacular being a one handed grab in the end zone, pulling in a 26-yard pass from Bennifield. With Gable’s PAT the Pirates had a 21-20 lead with 47 seconds remaining in the half, but a 25-yard field goal by Martinez put the Fighters up 23-21 as the horn sounded to end the half.
Frisco started the second half with a bang as Felton took the opening handoff 44-yards to the house for a 30-21 Fighters lead. Bennifield answered with a 19-yard touchdown pass to LaQuvionte Gonzalez to make it a two point game, but Felton’s third touchdown of the night, a one-yard run, put the Fighters up by two scores. The Pirates closed the third quarter with Thomas Owens making his second TD catch of the game, a 20-yarder, and Massachusetts trailed 37-35.
The Pirates had a chance to take the lead with 7:54 to play but Bennifield’s pass to Turner was broken up and intercepted by Alonzo Turner Jr. The Pirates defense stiffened as with 2:51 to play Frisco had a fourth and six from the Pirates 24. Pirates’ defensive back Ahmad Dixon applied pressure on Bane as he fired a pass to Manny Arceneaux which was broken up by Khalid Wooten. That stop ensured that the Fighters would not score in the final quarter.
Massachusetts had the chance it needed. The Pirates kept the ball on the ground with runs by Carter and Bennifield over the next five plays advancing the ball to the 12 yard line while taking the clock down to the final five seconds. Frisco tried to “ice” Gable with a timeout before he attempted the game winning kick, but the right-footer responded with a high lofting boot that was right down the middle.
Offensively Massachusetts won the battle with 105 yards passing while holding Frisco to its lowest passing total on the season with just 34 yards. The Pirates were outgained on the ground 96 to 64, but Massachusetts amassed 169 total yards to the Fighters 130. The Pirates had more penalties (12-5) and turned it over twice to just once for Frisco, but still won the game. This is the first time the Pirates have won back-to-back games this season. The Pirates will now return home to Phoenix Field at the DCU Center next Saturday night to face the Bismarck Bucks with kickoff scheduled for 7:05.
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