Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield threw five touchdown passes and ran for another as the Massachusetts Pirates defeated the Bismarck Bucks 43-38 at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center on Saturday night. With the victory the Pirates are now 6-3 on the season as the Bucks fell to 5-5.
On the first play of the game Bennifield went deep to Thomas Owens and the leading receiver in the Indoor Football League pulled in the 27-yard pass for the first score of the night. After a missed 25-yard field goal attempt by Cody Barber of Bismarck, it took the Pirates just three plays to reach the end zone as Bennifield found R.J. Turner from 20-yards out for a 13-0 lead.
Bismarck answered on fourth and one from the Pirates 17 as Caleb Lewis connected with Andre Williams for a touchdown for the final points of the first quarter. The Bucks then turned the Pirates away as Zuril Hendrick intercepted Bennifield in the endzone to start the second frame and countered with a five play, 43-yard drive with Lewis teaming up with Williams on a 21-yard touchdown to put Bismarck down 13-12.
Massachusetts would score the next 14 points as Bennifield ran one in from nine yards out and later tossed a 32-yard TD pass to Owens. Josh Gable added a “Deuce” and the half ended with the Pirates leading 27-12.
In the third quarter Justin Rankin scored on a nifty 19-yard run for Bismarck to keep the game close at 27-18, but two plays later it was Owens catching this third touchdown of the night, his 15th on the season, from 21-yards away and the Pirates led 33-18. The Bucks kept pace as Williams grabbed his third TD of the game on a fourth and 14 from the Pirates 22. The point after was no good leaving the Bucks down by nine, 33-24. It looked as if the Pirates would pull away as Bennifield hooked up with LaQuvionte Gonzalez on an 18-scoring play and with Gable’s point after Massachusetts led 40-24 with one quarter to play. For Bennifield it was his 26th TD pass of 2021.
The game however was far from over. Lewis engineered a six-play, 36-yard drive, capping it off with a one-yard plunge. His two-point conversion pass was caught by Williams and the Bucks trailed by eight. A Josh Gable 23-yard field goal put Massachusetts ahead 43-32 with 5:13 to play. Bismarck started their next dive at midfield but penalties pushed them back to their own endzone. Looking at second and 22, Lewis connected with Mike Carrigan for a nine-yard gain. His next pass was a 24-yard play to JT Stokes. Two snaps later Rankin was into the endzone for the second time on the night, scoring on a two-yard run. A failed two-point conversion left the Bucks looking at a five-point deficit. Barber’s ensuing onside kick was recovered by Williams and Bismarck still had hope with 57 seconds to play. Bismarck advanced the ball to the Pirates 23-yard line with four seconds remaining. On the final play Lewis threw down the middle of the field for Carrigan to the five -yard line, but the pass was broken up by Santos Ramirez as time ran out, giving the Pirates a 43-38 victory.
Bennifield finished the game 12 for 20 for 214 yards with five touchdowns and an interception. He also was the Pirates leading rusher with six carries for 19 yards and a score. The leading receiver in the game was Owens with seven receptions for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
For Bismarck Rankin was the “go to” player leading the ground attack with 40 yards on eight carries and two TD’s while adding seven receptions for another 37 yards. Lewis ended the game 14 of 23 passing for 154 yards with an interception and three touchdown passes, all going to Williams. Williams ended with four receptions for 66 yards.
The Pirates will return to Phoenix Field at the DCU Center on Sunday, July 18 for a showdown with the Arizona Rattlers at 1:05pm.
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