Pirates Start 1-0 In IFL

By: Oliver Nissi
Mass. Pirates Insider
April 26, 2021

LOUISVILLE, KY. — The Massachusetts Pirates marched into the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday night determined to bring home a victory. They did so in impressive fashion, defeating the Louisville Xtreme 48-19. The Pirates improve to 1-0 for the 2021 IFL season.

The Pirates struck first when defensive lineman JD Griggs recovered a fumble from Xtreme quarterback Bryan Hicks and returned it for 12 yards for a touchdown. Pirates kicker Gabriel Rui’s point after attempt sailed through the uprights to make it 7-0. Later in the first quarter, Pirates quarterback Sean Brackett delivered a swing pass to running back Justin Stockton for an 11-yard TD grab.

At the 14-yard line in the second quarter, Hicks hit Xtreme wideout Edgar Poe for a touchdown on the right side of the endzone on a sail route. Poe performed a theatrical backflip in mid-air to celebrate. Xtreme kicker Derek Vacha’s extra point was blocked. 14-6 Pirates.

With 35 seconds to go in the second quarter, Pirates quarterback Alejandro Bennifield fired a dart to the right. Wide receiver Thomas Owens caught the pass on an out route to extend the Massachusetts lead, 21-6 heading into the half.

After Louisville scored early in the third quarter to close the scoring gap, the Pirates responded with the play of the game, when Bennifield fired a 35-yard missile to Owens on a go route. Owens made a spectacular grab by reaching his hands over the wall to secure the touchdown catch, extending the Pirate lead to 28-12.

The Pirates would go on to score three more touchdowns to finish off the Xtreme by a final score of 48-19. Running back Justin Stockton was named player of the game. He finished with 82 rushing yards on 11 attempts and 2 total scores.

Wide receiver Thomas Owens scored three touchdowns Saturday night against the Xtreme.

With 6:57 left in the third quarter, Bennifield threw a pass intended for Pirates receiver Terrance Williams. The ball was deflected off the hands of Williams and Owens secured the ball and took it to the house for a 45-yard score. Owens spoke with masspiratesfootball.com after the game and talked about the amazing play.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The defender did not see that I caught the ball and it’s history from there.”

Defensive back Santos Ramirez was all over the field on Saturday night and led the team in solo tackles with 6. After the game he talked about the Pirates defense’s performance.

“I thought the defense was flying around and we put forth a great effort. We still have a lot to clean up but overall we played tremendously together. The best is yet to come.”

Assistant head coach, defensive coordinator, and secondary coach Rayshaun Kizer pointed out ways the team can improve heading into next week.

“As a whole team we definitely need to cut down on the penalties. We had 10 for 106 yards, which is a sign of an undisciplined team and that’s not who we want to be known as. We also need more consistency all around. We made a lot of mistakes this first game.”

Kizer touched upon the Pirates defensive play against Louisville and was pleased with the performance.

“Our defense played outstanding, holding Louisville to 18 points. You do not see that very often so hats off to that unit. That is a very special group. I have seen that since Day 1 in training camp. They communicate very well and fly around to the ball and make plays. That’s all I can ask for.”

The Pirates next matchup comes on the road against the Green Bay Blizzard on Sunday, May 2nd at 4:05 PM EST. The Blizzard will enter the contest with a 0-1 record.

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets will be available soon at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard