Legends quarterback Aaron Murray attempts a pass against the San Antonio Commanders during the first half Sunday, March 17, 2019, at Georgia State Stadium in Atlanta.
Photo: Todd Kirkland/AAF
Photo: Todd Kirkland/AAF

Atlanta Legends stifled by Commanders at home 

The Commanders came into Atlanta on Sunday and took control from the get-go. 

A dominant first half, paired with mistakes by the Atlanta Legends, secured the 37-6 win by San Antonio (4-2) before the second half even began. 

Atlanta fell to 2-4 on the season. 

“Today, it seemed like we were a little off, the timing was a little off, we were a little late with a couple of throws,” coach Kevin Coyle said. “They had a couple of good breaks on the ball that created turnovers, we had a fumble, at the end of the play as we were going down.”

The Commanders dominated throughout the game. Each of the Legends’ mistakes created scoring opportunities for San Antonio. 

Legends quarterback Aaron Murray struggled to find success, finishing 30-for-41 for 215 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions — each leading to a San Antonio score.

“Lot to work on, obviously starts with me I can’t just give balls away like that,” Murray said. “I was just late, I second-guessed myself.”

Murray’s first interception led to San Antonio points after Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside connected with Mekale McKay for a 5 yard touchdown, followed by a successful two-point conversion. The drive gave San Antonio a 14-0 early in the second quarter.

De’Vante Bausby, the league’s leader in interceptions, recorded his fourth of the season off a Murray pass with 10 minutes left in the first half. San Antonio capitalized, with Woodside tossing a 33-yard touchdown pass to Evan Rodriguez. 

The Commanders made their final mark in the fourth quarter when Derron Smith intercepted a Murray pass and returned it for an 87-yard touchdown.

“Getting turnovers is one thing, and being able to capitalize with points, that was really the game today,” San Antonio coach Mike Riley said. “Because we got the ball in some good situations for our offense, and we did take advantage of it and made it count and got a good early lead.”

San Antonio found other ways to expose Legends mistakes.

After another failed attempt by the Legends to drive down the field forced Cameron Nizialek to punt the ball for 42 yards, San Antonio’s Greg Ward Jr. returned the punt 79 yards for a touchdown . It was just the second punt-return for a touchdown in the history of the Alliance of American Football. It gave the Commanders a 20-point lead as the first half ended, 26-6. 

“We’ve been kind of waiting for that return for a touchdown, and that was just a beautiful play,” Riley said. “Reversed his field and scored, and I thought that was a big play in the game at the time.”

Atlanta fumbled the ball on the second drive of the game, recovered by San Antonio’s Duke Thomas. Kennth Farrow turned the fumble into a 13-yard touchdown run for the Commanders on their first snap to put them on the board 6-0 halfway through the first quarter. The Legends fumbled the ball four times throughout the game. 

“We’ve got to do a better job protecting the football,” Coyle said. “There were fumbles at the running back spot, some exchange issues during the course of the game. As we changed centers that was an issue for a little bit. But these are things that you can’t allow to happen, so we’ve got to tighten all those things up.”

The Legends also struggled to get in striking distance of the end zone. Atlanta scored its first touchdown of the game in the final three minutes of the half when Murray found Tarean Folston for 1-yard score. It would be the only successful scoring drive for the Legends. 

Peter Pujals replaced Murray in the fourth quarter, completing 4-of-6 passes for 17 yards. 

“We are a good football team when we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties, with turnovers, miscommunication, little things,” Murray said. “We’ve just got to clean up the little details, clean up the communication.”

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