Quarterback Sean Brackett led the offense throwing seven touchdown passes and defensive end R.J. Roberts suppled three and a half sacks, blocked a field goal and forced a fumble as the first place Massachusetts Pirates defeated the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks 53-34 at the DCU Center on Saturday night.
The Pirates (8-3) found themselves trailing 3-0 as Lehigh Valley’s Spencer Hotaling kicked a 24 yard field goal to open the scoring. The Pirates answered in just three plays as Brackett hit Mardy Gilyard with a 10 yard strike to give Massachusetts at 6-3 advantage. The quarter ended with the Steelhawks taking a 10-6 lead as quarterback Caleb Walton scored on a short three yard run.
Hotaling began the second quarter with a “Duce” to put Lehigh Valley up 12-6 but the lead was short lived as the Pirates Gilyard scored his second touchdown of the night on a two yard scamper. The next possession saw Roberts get his first sack of the night and then he blocked a 20 yard field goal attempt. The Pirates turned that into a score as Brackett threw an 11 yard pass to Devonn Brown to push the score to 19-12 with 56 seconds left in the half.
The Steelhawks answered with back-up quarterback Matt Foltz finding F.J. Williams from five yards out and the game was tied at 19 with just 17 seconds left before halftime. Two plays and nine seconds later Lavon Pearson made an over the shoulder catch for a score and Massachusetts was back out front. On the Steelhawks next play from scrimmage Roberts forced Foltz to fumble which was recovered by Darryl Render with two seconds remaining. That was just enough time for Brackett to throw a 26 yard jump ball to the end zone. Lamont Bryant out leaped Jason Johnson for the touchdown and the Pirates held a 33-19 lead at the half.
The Steelhawks (0-9) had an impressive start to the third quarter as Hotaling connected on his second ”Duce” of the game. Marquis Gollman intercepted a Brackett pass at the five yard line and Foltz marched his team to the red zone. The final 20 yards were covered with a TD toss to Charles McClain and the Steelhawks were down 33-28. The Lehigh Valley defense stood tall forcing Ali Mourtada to attempt a 55 yard field goal which was blocked by Dante Holmes. Holmes recovered the ball in the end zone for six and the Steelhawks had a 34-33 lead with 6:40 to play in the third quarter.
The Pirates didn’t flinch. Brackett teamed up with Pearson for his second score of the night from 15 yards out to take a 40-34 advantage. Pearson led all receivers in the game with seven receptions for 82 yards and two scores. On the first play of the Steelhawks next possession wide out Derrick Macon caught a 15 yard pass to the Pirates 15 but fumbled along the wall and the ball was recovered by Kiante Northington. Brackett engineered a quick three play drive that saw tight end Fred Ruff catch an eight yard pass to put Massachusetts up 47-34.
The ensuing kickoff by Mourtada caromed off the foot of the Steelhawks Paris Taylor and it was recovered by the Pirates Pearson. On the next play Brown made a spectacular over the shoulder catch and hung on, crashing into the wall, for his second TD of the night. Brown finished with 4 catches for 48 yards and two scores.
Neither team scored in the final quarter but the Steelhawks did see Foltz leave the game with an injured right leg following a sack by Roberts. Foltz finished eight of 18 passing for 101 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Walton played the final 13 minutes ending up 10 of 35 for 93 yards.
For Brackett it marked the second time this season that he had seven TD passes in a game. His line was 26 of 39 for 288 yards, seven scores and one interception. He was also the games’ leading rusher with two carries for 27 yards.
Bryant, who started the game a linebacker for the Pirates, led the team with six tackles.
The Pirates will look to stay atop the National Arena League standing as they travel to Columbus to face the Lions next Saturday at 7:00 pm.The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. Pirate Nation Season Ticket Memberships for the 2018 season are now available. Pirate Nation Memberships start as low as $60.00. To become a Pirate Nation Season Ticket member or for more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email email@example.com or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call Kara Mancini at 508-929-0125 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Pirates on facebook at facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.