Quarterback Sean Brackett threw four touchdown passes, wide receiver Laquvionte Gonzalez scored three times and the defense caused six turnovers as the Massachusetts Pirates ran their record to 10-3 with a 51-16 win over the Northern Arizona Wranglers at the Findlay Toyota Center on Sunday. The win was the Pirates seventh consecutive victory which set a franchise record and extended the longest winning streak by any team in the Indoor Football League this season. The victory was also Massachusetts’ fifth straight triumph on the road. Additionally, the win secures a top three overall seed in the upcoming playoffs. The Wranglers are now 1-12 on the season.
The start was anything but easy as the Wranglers scored first, taking the opening drive 25-yards for a score with quarterback Verlon Reed Jr. running it in from two yards out for a 7-0 lead. The Pirates answered immediately as Gonzalez returned the kickoff 43-yards to the six-yard line. Four plays later it was Brackett passing to Gonzalez with a two yard strike. Kicker Ali Mourtada’s PAT however was blocked and returned by Kam Prewitt for two points and Northern Arizona led 9-6.
After the Pirates’ defense forced a four-and-out, Massachusetts took over at the Wranglers 15. The drive carried over into the second quarter where Mourtada connected on a 32-yard field goal to tie the game with 14:09 to play in the first half.
On Northern Arizona’s next possession Reed Jr. was intercepted by Pirates defensive back Chucky Williams at the 11. After a six-yard run by Marquis Young, Massachusetts kept it on the ground with Gonzalez running a sweep five yards for a touchdown making the score to 16-9. The Pirates missed an opportunity on their next possession as Prewitt intercepted Brackett in the end zone, but one play later it was Jonathan Jones fumbling the ball away with the Pirates Harlan Miller recovering. That led to a one-yard run by Young and the Pirates held a 23-9 lead. The half ended with the Pirates causing another turnover as Khalid Wooten deflected a Reed Jr. pass that was intercepted by Santos Ramirez.
The Pirates started the third quarter from their own three yard line and drove 47 yards for a touchdown. Brackett took the team down the field completing three passes to Thomas Owens and finished the march with an eight-yard pass to Dontez Byrd to make the score 30-9.
The Massachusetts defense would strike again. This time with the Wranglers looking to score with a second and goal at the Pirates seven yard-line, Aarion Maxey-Penton intercepted Reed Jr. five yards deep in the end zone and returned it 55-yards for a coast to coast pick six and the quarter ended with Massachusetts leading 37-9.
In the final quarter, Caden Walters came on in relief at quarterback and led the Wranglers to a score with a short 1-yard touchdown run, but Brackett and company were not finished as the Pirates QB connected with Owens for a five yard TD, his 20th touchdown of the season, and then, after a fumble recovery by Youhanna Ghaifan, Brackett went deep to Gonzalez, 41 yards for the final points of the game.
With nine seconds to play, the Pirates collected their sixth turnover of the night as Miller intercepted Walters in the end zone.
It was the third time this season that the number one defense in the IFL held an opponent under 20 points. Conversely, it is the fourth straight game in which the Pirates have scored 50 or more.
Young was the leading rusher for the Pirates with six carries for 15 yards and a touchdown. Brackett finished the night 12 of 20 passing for 127 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. His top receivers were Owens who had seven catches for 72 yards and a score and Gonzalez who had three receptions for 41 yards and two touchdowns.
The leading rushers in the game were Rob Brown of the Wranglers with 25 yards on three carries and Emanuel Jones with five rushes for 24 yards. Reed Jr. ran six times for 17 yards and a TD. Reed Jr. was five of 15 passing for 37 yards with three interceptions. Walters was four of nine for 45 yards and was picked off once.
Defensively Chucky Williams was the leading tackler in the game with seven, including one for a loss and an interception. Ramirez had six stops, 1.5 tackles for a loss and a pick, Miller had an interception and recovered a fumble and T.J. Barnes had two tackles for a loss. Michael Witherspoon led Northern Arizona with 4.5 tackles including one for a loss.
The Pirates will return to Phoenix Field and the DCU Center on Saturday night for a 7:30 showdown with the Iowa Barnstormers in their regular season finale.
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 2022 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