The Massachusetts Pirates delivered a total team effort as they defeated the first place Arizona Rattlers at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center on Sunday afternoon. The victory by the Pirates stopped the Rattlers six game winning streak while handing them their second loss of the season. Massachusetts is now 7-3 on the year while Arizona now stands at 7-2.
The Rattlers did score first as quarterback Drew Powell found wide receiver Troy Pelletier from six yards out to grab a seven to nothing lead. Later in the first quarter Chucky Williams of the Pirates recovered a Powell fumble and the home team would cash in six plays later as Justin Stockton scored on a 12-yard run on the last play of the quarter for his fourth touchdown of 2021. Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield ran in the two-point conversion and the Pirates led 8-7.
Powell got the lead back for the Rattlers with a five-play, 28-yard drive with scoring on a one-yard run to grab a 14-8 advantage which lasted just seconds. LaQuvionte Gonzalez returned the kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown and with a Bennifield to Dontez Byrd two-point conversion, the Pirates would never trail.
After Harlan Miller broke up a pass to Pelletier on fourth and goal from the four, the Pirates went the length of the field with Bennifield scoring his twelfth rushing touchdown of the season. His conversion pass to Thomas Owens put the Pirates out front 24-14. Massachusetts’ good fortune continued as Sean Brackett’s kickoff bounded off of Montavious Atkinson and was recovered by Miller giving the Pirates the ball on their own 20. That led to a Bennifield to Gonzalez 30-yard touchdown pass and with Owens’ conversion catch, Massachusetts led at halftime 32-14.
The second half would see the team’s trading touchdowns on nine straight possessions. The Rattlers tried an onside kick to start the third quarter but the Pirates recovered at the nine-yard line and on the next play Bennifield teamed up with Owens for the wideouts 16th touchdown of the season for a 38-14 advantage.
Powell’s second rushing touchdown of the game (a 27-yard scramble) closed the margin to 38-20 but Byrd caught his first TD of the season for the Pirates from 19 yards out to pad the lead to 46-20 along with Stockton’s two-point conversion run.
Powell was not finished. His four -yard scamper found him in the endzone for the third time. He then tossed a conversion strike to Jeremiah Harris and the Rattlers were down 46-26. Massachusetts closed out the quarter with Bennifield scoring his second rushing touchdown of the game on a one-yard plunge. He then found R.J. Turner on a two-point try and the Pirates led 54-28 after three.
The Rattlers leading receiver, Jarrod Harrington, got into the act to open the final quarter with a 13-yard TD reception. Powell ran in the conversion to make the score 54-36. Another failed onside kick gave the Pirates a short field and Stockton made them pay with a five-yard TD as the Pirates hit the 60-point mark. Powell threw his final TD pass of the game to Harris, from four yards out, and added a conversion run to make the score 60-44 with 8:24 to play.
The Pirates tacked on one more score for good measure as Bennifield connected with Byrd for his second TD of the game with a 15-yard pass. Owens caught the two-point conversion for the 68-44 final score.
The Pirates’ defense held the Ratters to 219 yards of total offense (91 rushing and 128 passing) while the offense had its highest point production of the season. Stockton was Massachusetts’ leading rusher with nine carries for 35 yards and two scores. Bennifield ended the game 16 of 26 passing for 203 yards and four touchdowns. The quarterbacks’ two touchdown runs earned him a Pirates single season record as he now has 13 on the year. Byrd was the Pirates leading receiver with four receptions for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Owens had four catches for 42 yards and a score while Gonzalez added a TD with three grabs for 48 yards. R.J. Turner chipped in with three receptions for 48 yards.
Powell was the games’ top rusher with 11 carries for 68 yards and three touchdowns. He was 16 of 21 passing for 142 yards and three scores. Harrington was the Rattlers top receiver with four catches for 43 yards and a TD, Harris had four catches for 31 yards and a score, Jamal Miles also had four receptions for 31 yards and Pelletier added three receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown.
The Pirates, who now have won four straight games, will have a bye week before traveling to the west coast to face the Spokane Shock on July 31.
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