Week seven was the first week of the Alliance that had big playoff implications. The Orlando Apollos punched their ticket as the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the East. The Commanders held off a late surge from the Stallions to maintain the first spot in the West. The Express stayed alive with late-game heroics to down the Iron, and they did it without turning exclusively to Johnny Manziel at quarterback. Overtime was in play for the first time, and another game was decided on a final drive. Who sparked these teams in their victories?
Who played well in defeat? We’ve got the top 10 individual performances from week seven of the AAF right here.
Nick Truesdell, Salt Lake Stallions Tight End
Damontre Moore, San Diego Fleet Defensive End
Logan Woodside, San Antonio Commanders Quarterback
Trevor Reilly, Salt Lake Stallions Linebacker
Terrence Garvin, Orlando Apollos Linebacker
10. Jhurell Pressley, Arizona Hotshots Halfback
15 carries, 64 yards, 1 reception, 13 yards
Jhurell Pressley expanded on his Alliance rushing yard lead in a win over San Diego. Pressley was the featured back this week for the league’s best rushing offense, working alongside Tim Cook to be a one-two punch and offset John Wolford’s passing attack. Pressley shows great burst on his runs and shows patience in finding space. His continued success carrying the ball might be the key to carrying Arizona back up the standings in the western division.
9. De’Veon Smith, Orlando Apollos Halfback
13 carries, 40 yards, 3 TDs, 1 2-PT
De’Veon Smith established himself as the finisher for the Orlando Apollos offense this week against Atlanta. Smith capped off the opening drive for by smashing through into the goal line. He followed it up with a two-point conversion and two more touchdowns to help propel the Apollos far ahead of the Legends. D’Ernest Johnson was the more efficient back this week for the Apollos, but Smith’s nose for the end zone nets him a spot on the list this week.
8. Luis Perez, Birmingham Iron Quarterback
16/37 passing, 235 yards, 2 TDs, 2 2-PTs, 7 rushes, 27 yards
Luis Perez looks to be the quarterback that Head Coach Tim Lewis will entrust to guide the Iron to the playoffs and beyond. Perez looked better today than he did at the beginning of the year, showing a willingness to throw the ball deeper downfield. There are still some questions in his game, including his slides on running plays that leave him vulnerable to big hits. Perez was somewhat handcuffed by playcalling late in the game that led to the Iron falling to the Express. If Perez can continue to stretch the field and add that layer to the Iron offense, they’ll be a more complete team going forward.
— Birmingham Iron (@aafiron) March 25, 2019
7. Steven Johnson, Arizona Hotshots Linebacker
7 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 interception
Steven Johnson works as a solid anchor in the Hotshots defense. This week he was integral in containing the Fleet offense, especially their run game. Johnson snagged an easy interception off of Mike Bercovici and almost returned it for a touchdown as well. In certain defenses you can tell who exists as the heart; Johnson is definitely the heart of the Hotshots defense. All of Arizona’s wins have come when Johnson suits up for them on defense.
6. Garrett Gilbert, Orlando Apollos Quarterback
19/23 passing, 217 yards, 1 TD, 1 2-PT
After a relatively off week last week in a loss to the Arizona Hotshots, Garrett Gilbert was back to his usual self in a win against Atlanta this week. Gilbert used his running backs and the intermediate passing game to pick apart the Legends defense. His strength this year has been taking shots when it’s warranted and not forcing throws he doesn’t like. Gilbert got off to a hot start this week. He was perfect on the first drive leading to an Apollos touchdown.
If you’re wondering how @6_Speedo got his nickname… 😏
— Orlando Apollos (@aafAPOLLOS) March 23, 2019
5. Nelson Spruce, San Diego Fleet Wide Receiver
12 catches, 146 yards
Nelson Spruce was his quarterback Mike Bercovici’s best friend this week. Nelson had 12 catches and the rest of the Fleet combined for 10. The former Colorado Buffalo did a great job and hauling in the looks that Bercovici gave him, and in the process set the season-high for receptions in an Alliance game. Spruce almost doubled his season’s production in one game this week.
4. Reece Horn, Memphis Express Wide Receiver
7 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD
Reece Horn continues to be the favorite target of new Express quarterback Brandon Silvers, and for good reason. Horn works hard to come down with catches and contested balls and recorded his second consecutive 100-yard game this week. His biggest catch was his last catch: a seven-yard touchdown to get the Express within two points of the Iron. A two-point conversion and a score in overtime followed to secure the win for Memphis. Horn is the safety blanket for Silvers that the Express maybe didn’t know they had, but are sure thankful they do.
3. De’Vante Bausby, San Antonio Commanders Cornerback
3 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 defensive conversion
De’Vante Bausby was the late game hero in the San Antonio Commanders win against the Salt Lake Stallions. With the Stallions attempting a two-point conversion to tie the game with less than two minutes to play, Bausby, the AAF co-leader in interceptions, picked off the Josh Woodrum pass and returned it 99 yards to the house for two points the other way. Commanders went up 19-15 and would win the game by that score. Bausby’s interception blew the roof off of a record crowd in San Antonio, as 30,345 fans were in attendance; an AAF record.
— PFF_AAF (@PFF_AAF) March 24, 2019
2. John Wolford, Arizona Hotshots Quarterback
15/19 passing, 212 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception, 5 rushes, 44 yards, 1 TD
John Wolford and the Arizona Hotshots are heating up at the right time. After helping the Hotshots upend the undefeated Apollos, Wolford came to play against the Fleet. He had a tremendous scamper for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that helped put the game away. Wolford was smart with his passes and took advantage of the hard work of his run game to lead the balanced attack for the Hotshots. If he keeps up this level of play, Arizona will challenge for top spot in the West.
1. Brandon Silvers, Memphis Express Quarterback
24/35 passing, 266 yards, 2 TDs, 2 2-PTs
All eyes in the Memphis Express game were on Johnny Manziel, the former Heisman winning quarterback for the Express. However, it was Brandon Silvers who lead the Express to a comeback win in overtime for their second win of the season. Silvers was sharp on his throws and overcame the boos of the Memphis faithful hoping to get a look at Johnny Football. His excellent throws in the fourth quarter and his toss for the overtime score show that Manziel will have to settle for silver in the Memphis quarterback competition. Silvers is simply playing too well to be benched.
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 25, 2019