Saturday was a night to remember Orlando Apollos‘ fans. Not only was it the inaugural game, but the hometown team put on a dominating display on both sides of the ball. If you read my preview of the game, you would have seen my must-dos in order to beat the Atlanta Legends. In case you didn’t, we will breakdown that article and see if the Apollos were able to deliver!
1. Wreak havoc on Defense
I would say they covered this one! The Apollos defense surrendered only six points to the Legends. The defense was tenacious all game, hurrying the quarterback, Matt Sims, seven times and finishing the game with three sacks. The inability to take his time in the pocket helped lead to three interceptions, two by the AAF and Ambush Sports’ Defensive Player of the Week, Terence Garvin. Garvin was able to return his second interception of the evening for a 51-yard touchdown. Bryce Canady also added an interception late in the game, this one thrown by Aaron Murray. In total, the defense and special team forced five turnovers including a muffed punt and turnover on downs. The defense was just as mean and fast as advertised and it led the Apollos to this dominating win!
2. Balance the offense
Another checkmark, please! The Apollos started the game with three straight passes, no completed, and it looked like they were going to air it out whether it worked or not. But they quickly adjusted and started to mix in the run game, and the offense ignited. the final offensive statistics had the Apollos with 137 rushing yards and 226 passing yards. The offense had two passing touchdowns, one thrown by Garrett Gilbert and the other thrown TO Garrett Gilbert. Yes, you read that correctly, Jalin Marshall had a five-yard touchdown pass in this game. De’Veon Smith added a one-yard score on the ground while kicker Elliot Fry went 2/2 on field goals. The offense looked smooth when it wasn’t focusing too heavily on either the run or pass. This team has an incredibly prolific offense, and when used correctly, is a force to be reckoned with!
3. Don’t let up
This one is key in this league. Without the kickoff, there are no onside kick attempts. Instead, the league has an onside conversion consisting of a 4th and 12 situation where you either convert or you don’t. The Apollos almost fell victim to that new rule in the preseason game against the San Diego Fleet. This game, however, not so much. The Apollos scored three times in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Legends for good. The defense played until the final snap, securing a third interception even after Atlanta had replaced their starting quarterback. The offense never slowed down either, with backup quarterback Austin “The Dual-Threat” Appleby scrambling for a six-yard touchdown run. That touchdown was ultimately overturned due to a holding penalty, but it showed the mindset of the team, keep the pedal down.
The Orlando Apollos will travel to San Antonio this weekend to take on the Commanders in what could become a battle of the defenses. You can watch your Apollos play on Sunday (2/17) at 4:00 on the CBS Sports Network.