Coming off what could be the biggest win in franchise history, the Massachusetts Pirates return home to Phoenix Field at the DCU Center this Saturday night when they take on the Bismarck Bucks at 7:05. After knocking the Frisco Fighters from the ranks of the undefeated last weekend, the Pirates (5-3) who currently sit in fourth place in the Indoor Football League standings, will look to run its winning streak to three games.
The Bucks make the trip to Worcester coming off a bye week. Bismarck (5-4) lost its most recent game to the Sioux Falls Storm 52-27 and are currently in seventh place in the IFL.
The Pirates won their last two games on game winning field goals by Josh Gable. His 46-yarder defeated the Tucson Sugar Skulls 37-34 as time ran out, and last week, his 27-yard walk-off was the difference in handing the Frisco Fighters its first loss of the season 38-37. Against the Fighters, Pirate’s quarterback Alejandro Bennifield was 9 of 19 for 105 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Wideout Thomas Owens was the Pirates leading receiver with six receptions for 72 yards and two scores. Martez Carter led the Massachusetts ground game with 11 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. DeMarcus Felton scored three times for Frisco on a pair of one-yard runs and a 44-yard romp, but the Pirates defense held the Fighters to just 34 yards passing which was their lowest output of the season. A crucial stop by the Pirates came with 2:51 to play as Frisco had a fourth and six from the Pirates 24. Pirates’ defensive back Ahmad Dixon applied pressure on Frisco quarterback Jonathan Bane as he fired a pass to wideout Manny Arceneaux which was broken up by defensive back Khalid Wooten. That gave the ball back to the Pirates for the game winning drive.
This will be the second meeting between Massachusetts and Bismarck this season. Bennifield passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more as the Pirates defeated the Bucks 36 to 18 at the Bismarck Event Center on May 8. Trailing 12-0, the Pirates took control of the game in the second quarter, running off 20 straight points to lead at halftime. In the third quarter Bismarck quarterback Glen Cuiellette found wideout Raheem Harvey for the second time on the evening for a score, but a two-point conversion try was no good and the Pirates led by two, 20 – 18. Bismarck would not score the rest of the game.
Bennifield was 16 of 30 passing for 186 yards and three scores and he was also the games top rusher with 31 yards on eight carries with two touchdowns. Owens was the Pirates top receiver with eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. For the Bucks, Cuiellette was 7 of 15 for 74 yards and two TD’s while Harvey led Bismarck with four receptions for 90 yards and two TD’s. The Massachusetts defense held the Bucks to 249 total yards of offense which included a minus 8 rushing yards for the game.
This week the Pirates enter the game allowing the fewest points per game in the IFL at 32.0. They also are number one against the pass giving up 111.1 yards per contest and yield the fewest total yards per game at 158.1. The Massachusetts defense also has the best third down conversion rate in the IFL at 31 percent. The Pirates also rank second against the run allowing opponents just 47 yards per game and they also rank second in the IFL with 11 sacks.
The Pirates are scoring 36.9 points per game while Bismarck averages 42 points per contest. The Bucks defense is allowing 46 points per game.
The Bucks have the distinction of scoring a league best nine touchdowns in a game on May 22 vs. Northern Arizona and they also gave up nine against Sioux Falls on June 5.
This game will feature several players who rank in the IFL’s top ten in various categories.
Bucks RB Justin Rankin is ninth with 33.7 yards per game and seventh with 236 yards rushing. Alejandro Bennifield of the Pirates is fourth with 11 rushing touchdowns.
This season the Pirates Alejandro Bennifield has 86 completions (4th) on 163 attempts (4th) for 985 yards (4th) for a percentage of 52.8 (7th) with five interceptions (3rd) and 21 touchdowns (2nd). He averages 123.1 yards per game (8th) and has an efficiency rating of 139.9 (7th). He is also 8th in total offense with 1,096 yards.
The Pirates’ Thomas Owens is making his case as the top receiver in the IFL. Owens leads the league with 38 receptions and 521 receiving yards. He is also first averaging 65.1 receiving yards per game, second with 12 TD receptions, second with 5.3 receptions per game and ninth with 13.7 yards per catch.
The Bucks have a trio of receivers who also are making their mark in 2021. JT Stokes has 25 receptions (9th), 421 receiving yards (2nd), 12 touchdowns (3rd) and averages 16.8 yards per catch (1st). Raheem Harvey also has 25 receptions (10th), seven TD receptions (7th), and averages 13.8 yards per catch (8th). Mike Carrigan has seven touchdown receptions (9th) and averages 14.1 yards per catch (7th).
Owens is currently ranked tenth, scoring 9.3 points per game.
The Pirates Laquvionte Gonzalez ranks first averaging 22.0 yards per return.
All Purpose Yards
The Bucks Mike Carrigan is sixth with 97.3 yards per game while Gonzales of Massachusetts nets 97.1 per contest.
Two of the top kickers in the league will be on the field Saturday. Josh Gable of the Pirates is 15 (9th) of 18 (10th) on extra points while Cody Barber of the Bucks is 34 (2nd) of 46 (2nd). As for field goals, Gable is nine (2nd) of 18 (4th) for a percentage of 50 percent (3rd). Barber is six (5th) of 20 (2nd) for a percentage of 30 percent (8th). Barber has 52 points kicking (3rd) while Gable has 42 (6th).
LB/DB Darreon Jackson and DB Deion Carter for Bismarck are tied for tenth in tackles with 43 each.
Tackles for Loss
DB Malik Duncan of the Bucks ranks fourth with 7.5 and the Pirates DL/LB Tavarus Dantzler is fifth with 7.0.
DL Da’Von Keith of Bismarck has 3.5 which ranks him fifth.
DB Zuril Hendrick of Bismarck leads the IFL with 16 and has the best average per game with 2.67. Teammate Kiante Goudeau is fourth with 12. Pirates DB’s Harlan Miller and Aarion Maxey-Penton are tied for eighth as each has nine. They also are among the league leaders in interceptions with two each.
DB Chucky Williams of the Pirates has two this season as does DL Lawrence Ross III of Bismarck joining several others to lead the league.
The Bucks DB Deion Carter leads the IFL with three while Pirates DL Toby Johnson ranks fourth with two.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA, 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available now at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard