The Massachusetts Pirates, with the top defense in the Indoor Football League, held the Bismarck Bucks to just 12 points in the second half enroute to a 44-19 victory and advanced to the second round of the IFL playoffs next weekend. For the Pirates it was their first ever playoff victory. It was also their twelfth win overall this season and their ninth consecutive, both franchise records. It marked the fifth time this year that the second seeded Pirates (11-3/1-0) held an opponent under 20 points. Seventh seeded Bismarck (7-8/0-1) finished with just 118 yards of total offense and only 57 yards passing.
The Bucks scored the only points of the first quarter as running back Isaiah Strayhorn scored on a three-yard touchdown run to finish off a four-play, 14-yard drive. The Pirates answered in the second quarter as quarterback Alejandro Bennifield connected with Thomas Owens on a six-yard pass play to tie the game with 12:31 remaining in the half. On the Pirates next possession, they drove 45 yards in ten plays with Laquvionte Gonzalez scoring on a four-yard run to make the score 14-7 and Massachusetts would never trail again. The Pirates closed out the half with kicker Josh Gable, who returned from the long term injured reserve list earlier in the week, making a field goal from 26 yards for a 17-7 halftime advantage.
Bismarck had a great opportunity with its first possession of the third quarter as they drove to the Pirates ten. On fourth and one quarterback Caleb Lewis tried to sneak for the first down but Massachusetts nose tackle Toby Johnson and the rest of the defensive line stopped him short of the line to gain. The Pirates took over on downs and marched 40-yards in five plays with Owens catching his second TD pass of the night from 14 yards out for the only score of the third quarter.
For Bismarck, an upset was still within reach as the final quarter began with Strayhorn scoring his second touchdown of the game on a three-yard run. The point after by Cody Barber was no good and the Bucks trailed 24-13. The Pirates needed only three plays to pad their lead as Bennifield scored on a two-yard plunge making the score 30-13.
The next offensive play for the Bucks is one that went in the wrong direction. Lewis’ pass went off the fingertips of receiver Raheem Harvey and was caught by Pirates defensive back Aarion Maxey-Penton who returned it 30-yards for a touchdown and Massachusetts had a commanding 37-13 lead with 8:34 to play.
The Bucks next drive stalled at the Massachusetts 20. Pirates’ backup quarterback Sean Brackett connected with wideout Juston Christian on a 29-yard pass play making the score 44-13. The final points of the night came when Bucks QB Kenyatte Allen Jr. hit wide receiver Mike Carrigan with a 25-yard strike.
For the Pirates, Bennifield was the leading rusher with 26 yards on seven carries with one touchdown. He was also 11 of 15 passing for 113 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Brackett finished three for three for 45 yards and a score. Owens was the leading receiver for Massachusetts with five receptions for 47 yards and two touchdowns. The Pirate’s defense was led by Chucky Williams and Santos Ramirez as each had five tackles. Linebacker Martrell Spaight had 4.5 stops including the game’s only sack. He also posted 1.5 tackles for a loss. Maxey-Penton broke up two passes and had the game’s only interception, which was the 30-yard pick-six.
Bismarck’s Strayhorn was the top rusher in the game with 30 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. Lewis was 5 of 18 passing for 39 yards and one interception. Allen Jr. was 1 of 2 passing for 25 yards, which was a touchdown. Carrigan was the only Bismarck receiver with more than one reception as he had two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. The Bucks Darreon Jackson led all tacklers in the contest with 7.5. Linebacker Jeff Branch finished with two tackles for a loss.
The Pirates will now play their second round playoff game at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center on Saturday night, September 4, with kickoff scheduled for 7:05.
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 email@example.com 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