After defeating the Lions (3-6) 59-50 over the weekend, the Massachusetts Pirates (5-4) must quickly shift their focus as they travel to Columbus for a rematch Saturday night at 7:00 pm in the Columbus Civic Center. The Pirates are currently riding a four-game win streak. Their last loss came against the Lions in Columbus on May 11th.
Pirates quarterback Sean Brackett and Lions QB Luke Collis showed their elite passing skills over the weekend. Brackett was 25 of 37 with 273 passing yards and six total touchdowns while Collis completed 21 of 43 passes with 305 yards and seven touchdowns. The rematch should feature more of the same, as the performances by Brackett and Collis will most likely dictate the outcome of Saturday's contest. Ultimately, it was the two interceptions thrown by Collis that led to the final score. Collis and Brackett hold the two top spots for total offensive touchdowns in the NAL, so it is no secret how effective and game-changing these leaders are to their respective teams.
When it comes to running the ball the Pirates have the upper hand. Fullback Quayvon Hicks continues to be the overall leader in the league in rushing with 108 yards while also adding four touchdowns on the year, despite not playing last weekend. Brackett also adds a sneaky rushing element to his game, having rushed for 89 yards and nine touchdowns thus far, which puts him atop of the NAL in rushing scores this season. For the Lions, newcomer Kamryn Pettway has flashed in his first four games with Columbus putting up 65 yards and three touchdowns.
The Pirates Mardy Gilyard and Lions Paris Mack led their teams in receiving over the weekend, with the game-breaking Gilyard hauling in 11 balls for 113 yards and four touchdowns while Mack had seven catches for 173 yards and four touchdowns. Each defense had trouble containing these talented receivers, so look for the teams to take away these options as best as they can. The big game from Mack puts him in first place for receiving yards per game in the NAL, while Gilyard found his way into the top spot in touchdown receptions. Bones Bagaunte provides Columbus with a top-tier number two receiver. So far in 2019, he has 60 receptions for 538 yards and 15 touchdowns, which are highly impressive numbers considering the talent the team has at wide receiver. Devonn Brown pairs extremely well with Gilyard as he gives Brackett a trustworthy, sure-handed target. His 30 receptions, 355 yards, and seven touchdowns show his effectiveness in the explosive Pirate offense.
Defensively, Columbus is led by linebacker Greg Halls Jr. His 30.5 total tackles, four sacks, five quarterback hits, a blocked kick and a safety show his unique skills and ability to wreck a game in all phases. Defensive back Shattle Fenteng is the top-dog in the Lions secondary with 34 total tackles, two interceptions, and 18 pass breakups. Pirates defensive back Lawrence Austin has been exceptional all season long, and he showed it most recently on Saturday night when he intercepted Collis and went coast-to-coast for the pick-six. His 48 total tackles put him at second in the NAL in tackles. He also adds six interceptions, 17 pass breakups, and a forced fumble to his stellar 2019 season. Defensive lineman JD Griggs is the main pass rusher for Massachusetts. His six-and-a-half sacks are a team high, while also having 14.5 total tackles, six-and-a-half tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and safety to his name. These defensive studs will need to be at their best in order to stop each team’s elite quarterback and wide receiving corps.
A Pirates victory would extend their win streak to an impressive five games, which would be quite a turnaround for a team that was once sitting at 1-4. The Lions have lost four out of their last five games.
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. 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 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook at Facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.