Sunday evening primetime football; the Birmingham Iron and San Diego Fleet put on quite the show. A surprisingly high scoring game between two of the Alliance’s best defenses came down to a kick. Isn’t this league trying to make kickers obsolete? Don’t tell Nick “The Kick” Novak that. Novak was 2 of 3 on the night including the game-winner as time expired. A fitting ending for the former San Diego Chargers placekicker.
Nick Novak wasn’t the only member of the Birmingham Iron back in familiar territory enjoying success. Quarterback Luis Perez is a San Diego native. Perez re-entered the lineup after new starter Keith Price got his bell rung early in the first quarter. The embattled QB has struggled this season to get through progressions as well as with turnovers over the last few weeks. He went 27 of 49 for 359 yards, 3 Touchdowns, a 2pt conversion, and another 2 interceptions. Perez looked like a man with something to prove at times. At other times he looked lost within the chaos. All in all the offense finally showed potential to be explosive and some semblance of balance.
L’Damian Washington came to play as well. The former Missouri Tiger caught 4 balls for 128 yards and 2 TDs. OC Steve Logan finally used Washington in a manner befitting his size and skill set. Stretching the field and pushing the ball deep. Jamal Robinson, the Iron’s newest receiver was second on the evening in yards with 78 on two receptions. Quinton Patton added a team-high 8 catches with 53 yards. It is the first time all season the Iron offense made safeties think twice before creeping up. Birmingham had a defense on its heels for a change.
For Trent Richardson, things were as per usual. Very effective as a receiver, with hard fighting runs and minimal gains. He added his 9th rushing TD on the year as well as one receiving. Marshaun Coprich made his debut and was solid in a limited role as both a receiver out of the backfield and runner. He adds a quick jab to the Irons power punching style of offense.
The offensive line looked like it was starting to gel despite all the injuries. Center JC Hassenauer is nearing a return. He will be a big help as the injuries along the line have started to pile up. Tackle Brandon Greene went down again Sunday night. He has been playing hurt most of the year. New addition Matt McCants may begin to see playing time as he learns the offense.
The defense for Birmingham was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. There were some boneheaded mistakes as well as spectacular plays made. DB Jamar Summers came up with his 3rd pick on the year, and Bradley Sylve added one to his stats as well. Sylve was the leader on the night in tackles with 8. LB Beniquez Brown was reminded, in embarrassing fashion, of the difference between college and professional rules of a ball carrier being down by contact. The mistake resulted in a touchdown for San Diego. The Iron were able to limit the Fleet running backs though and kept them in check most of the evening. It was as close to a complete game for Birmingham as we have seen to date.
Following two tough losses at home, this was a much-needed win for the Iron. With all other teams losing this week in the East division it keeps them in the hunt for a playoff spot. They get to visit Memphis this week and have a chance to sweep the struggling Express. The hype with Johnny Manziel is circulating, but I doubt he will be ready when the two teams meet again this weekend. If QB Keith Price is healthy the question stands reasonable; Who will start for the Iron? Keep pounding Iron faithful and as always, #ForgeOn!
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