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Orlando Apollos rally on road again for 7-1 start

Florida Football Insiders

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

A week after rallying to win against Eastern Conference rival Atlanta on the road, the Orlando Apollos repeated the feat Saturday afternoon in Memphis. The Apollos, once again, put on a great performance in the fourth quarter in all phases to clinch their seventh win in eight tries in the inaugural season of the AAF.

Orlando led 3-0  after first period and the Express turned to former Heisman winning quarterback Johnny Manziel to try to spark them in the second quarter.

However, Manziel was injured after throwing an interception, when it appeared that his own teammate collided with him- knee to helmet causing a concussion.

Brandon Silvers played the remainder of the game and did complete 30 – 49 for 269 yards and a touchdown, as Memphis eventually built a 31 – 22 fourth quarter lead.

But,  just like they did to the Atlanta Legends last week, Orlando came from behind with quarterback Garrett Gilbert. The former SMU and Carolina Panthers QB finished 22 – 44 for 310 yards and a crucial touchdown to receiver Charles Johnson that pulled the Apollos within 31 – 28. Their two-point conversion was no good and kept the margin three points.

Then, with rain falling in the River City, Memphis botched a snap on a punt in their own territory with 2:34 to go.  Orlando recovered and a short time later former Dolphins running back De’Veon Smith powered in from a yard out for the go-ahead touchdown.

Smith was initially called down by the on-field officials but the AAF “Sky Judge,” or extra referee in the booth looking at the TV monitors buzzed down.

He then, overruled them, as the television replays clearly showed Smith had gotten across the goal line before he was down. Again the two pointer was no good for Orlando keeping the lead 34-31.

That’s when Orlando’s defense, which has been very opportunistic all year, got another crucial late game interception. Silver’s was picked by defensive lineman Earl Okine with just over a minute remaining and Steve Spurrier’s team knelt on the ball for yet another victory.

The Apollos had already clinched a playoff spot last week, and have now all but clinched hosting a semifinal playoff game in week one of the postseason in April. The first ever AAF Championship Game will be played at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility known as “The Star” in Frisco, Texas, on April 27th.

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