The Massachusetts Pirates completed their first ever regular season in the Indoor Football League with a 55-19 win over the Iowa Barnstormers (6-6) at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center on Saturday night. The victory was the teams’ 11th against three losses. The win total equaled a franchise best set by the 2018 Pirates, who were 11-5. This years’ team earned a winning percentage of .785 over 14 games which is a team record. It was also the Pirates eighth consecutive victory that also established a franchise best. The eight-game win streak is the longest of any IFL team this season. With the victory the Pirates end the season in second place in the IFL standings and will host a first round playoff game on August 28th against the seventh seeded Bismarck Bucks at 7:05pm.
The Barnstormers scored on their first possession of the game as running back Elad Covaliu scored his 12th rushing touchdown of the season on a three-yard run, but the Pirates tied the game quickly. Kick returner Laquvionte Gonzalez took the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to the Iowa 13. On the next play Pirates quarterback Alejandro Bennifield hit Wideout Thomas Owens with a touchdown pass. The Barnstormers Gabriel Rui connected on a 29-yard field goal to give the visitors a 10-3 lead, but that would be the last time they would have the advantage. Bennifield and Owens teamed up again, this time from 16-yards and Massachusetts led 13-10 after the first quarter.
The game turned in the second quarter as Iowa was facing a fourth and two from their own 17 when quarterback Dequan Neal fumbled a shotgun snap. The loose ball was recovered by Pirates defensive back Santos Ramirez who returned it 12-yards for a scoop and score giving the Pirates a 19-10 lead. Rui made his second field goal of the game from 34 yards to make it a six-point affair, but his kickoff was returned 50 yards for a touchdown by Gonzalez. It was his third kickoff return for a touchdown this season. Running back Justin Stockton scored on a three-yard run and kicker Ali Mourtada added a “Deuce” as Massachusetts led 35-13 at the half.
The scoring slowed in the third quarter as Mourtada accounted for the only points coming on field goals of 30 and 44 yards giving the Pirates a 41-13 lead.
With 8:03 remaining in the game Barnstormers QB Richard Stammetti was intercepted by Aarion Maxey-Penton. Massachusetts drove 29 yards in six plays with Owens catching his third touchdown pass on the night, making a one-handed grab in the corner of the endzone for his 22nd TD reception on the season.
With the score 48-13, Stammetti threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Rasberry but the two-point conversion was no good as defensive end JD Griggs batted the ball down at the line of scrimmage.
With 1:44 to play on a first and goal at the seven, Owens lined up in the Pirates backfield and took a direct snap, ran right and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season. It was his fourth trip to the endzone on the night making the final score 55-19 with Mourtada’s extra point.
It was the fifth consecutive game in which the Pirates offense scored 50 or more points and it also marked the fourth time this season that the Massachusetts defense held an opponent under 20 points.
The Massachusetts ground game was led by Stockton who had nine carries for 23 yards and a score. The leading receiver was Owens who had five receptions for 85 yards and three touchdowns. Gonzalez had 139 all-purpose yards on the night with one yard rushing, 27 receiving and 111 coming on kick returns. Owens finished with 103 all-purpose yards with his seven-yard run, 85 receiving yards and 11 more coming via a returned kickoff. Bennifield finished the game 10 of 18 passing for 141 yards and three scores.
The Pirates defense saw Harlan Miller make six tackles, Ramirez added 5.5 along with his 12-yard fumble return for a score and defensive back Khalid Wooten broke up four passes.
The leading rusher in the game was Iowa’s Covaliu who ran 12 times for 49 yards and a touchdown. Neal finished 9 of 26 passing for 86 yards while Stammetti was 1 of 4 for 22 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Three Iowa receivers had three receptions. Rasberry ended with 41 yards and a score while Kentrez Bell had 29 yards and Daylon Person added 28. Tyrone Cromwell III had six tackles to lead the Barnstormers defense.
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