Pirates running back Justin Stockton rushed for 109 yards and scored twice while the Massachusetts defense limited Frisco to just 23 yards rushing in a 43-22 victory over the Fighters at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center on Saturday night. It was the tenth consecutive victory for the Pirates.
The second seeded Pirates (11-3/2-0) now advance to the Indoor Football League’s championship game, the United Bowl, which will be played on Sunday, September 12th at the highest remaining seed.
Third seeded Frisco (10-3/1-1) jumped out to a first quarter lead as quarterback Jerrod Heard engineered an eight play, 30-yard drive that ended with Heard scoring on second and goal from the four for the first points of the game. Kicker Kristov Martinez added the point after for a seven to nothing lead with 8:40 remaining.
After Garrett Hartley missed a 26-yard field goal for Massachusetts, the Fighters suffered their first turnover of the game. On third and 12 from their own three-yard line, Pirates defensive lineman Toby Johnson deflected a Heard pass that landed in the arms of defensive back Harlan Miller who returned it seven yards for a touchdown to get the Pirates on the board. A missed PAT left the score at 7-6 as the first quarter came to a close.
Frisco added to its lead in the second quarter, applying great pressure to Pirates quarterback Alejandro Bennifield. On second and ten from the Massachusetts five-yard line, Bennifield was caught in his own end zone and was called for intentional grounding which resulted in a safety. The 9-6 advantage for Frisco was the last time they would lead in the game.
The Pirates responded on their next possession as Stockton raced 8 yards for a touchdown. Hartley’s extra point gave Massachusetts a 13-9 lead. Then the Pirates defense got into the act as on the next snap Heard fumbled and the Pirates Khalid Wooten recovered. On the next play Bennifield hit Laquvionte Gonzalez, who made a catch on the wall for a touchdown, making the score 20-9.
The next offensive drive for the Fighters ended with their third turnover. On third and 11 from the Massachusetts 24, Frisco quarterback Malik Henry was intercepted by Santos Ramirez. The Pirates ran the clock down to the final play of the quarter with Hartley kicking a 24-yard field goal and the half ended with the Pirates up 23-9.
Massachusetts increased its lead taking the second half kickoff and driving 30 yards in four plays with Bennifield connecting with Thomas Owens with a seven-yard strike for a 30-9 advantage.
The Fighters would not quit as Henry went to the air completing four passes in a six-play, 24-yard drive with the last pass traveling five yards to DeMarcus Felton for a touchdown to make the score 30-16. Yet it was the Pirates running game that ruled the night. On the next series Stockton ran for 24 yards and after Bennifield ran for three more, it was Stockton scoring his second touchdown of the game, this one from three-yards out to put Massachusetts up 37-16. The last points of the third quarter came as Henry teamed up with Heard on a 19-yard pass play and after three, the scoreboard read 37-22 as the Fighters were back in the game.
As the final quarter began the Pirates were looking to add a field goal. Hartley’s kick from the 20 was wide left but a facemask penalty kept the drive alive. It ended with Owens making his second touchdown catch of the night for the final score of 43-22.
Stockton was the leading rusher in the game with 14 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Bennifield added 27 yards on six carries. The Pirates quarterback ended the game just four of 11 for 26 yards, but three of his passes went for touchdowns. Owens had three receptions for 15 yards and two scores. The Pirates’ defense was led by Martrell Spaight who had 6.5 tackles and one tackle for a loss. The three turnovers caused by the Massachusetts defense all resulted in scores. Miller had five tackles, one for a loss and the interception return for a touchdown and Wooten finished with two tackles, a fumble recovery and two passes broken up.
For Frisco, Marques Rodgers was the leading rusher with 13 yards on two carries. Henry was 10 of 17 passing for 104 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Heard was two of six for 12 yards and an interception. Bryce Wilkerson was the games top receiver with five catches for 46 yards. The Fighters’ defense was led by Cameron Hilton and Charles Williams who each had four tackles.
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