Game Preview: Pirates vs. Bucks

By: Nicholas Porter
Pirates Writer
May 6, 2021

After an emotional and closely fought loss to the Green Bay Blizzard, the Pirates now turn their attention to the Bismarck Bucks. The Pirates travel to Bismarck, North Dakota to face the Bucks at 7:05 EST at the Bismarck Event Center.

The Bucks’ season began with a tightly contested contest against Green Bay, pulling out a 41-35 victory in a back-and-forth game. In a last minute drive, sealed by a touchdown with 6.6 seconds remaining, the Bucks took the lead and the game.

On offense, the Pirates will have to deal with quarterback Glen Cuiellette, who entered in the 3rd quarter of the Bucks season opener and made the Blizzard defense pay. The Tulane product completed 8 of 11 passes for 105 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks in only a quarter and a half of action.

Most of the Bismarck passing game went through standout receiver Raheem Harvey, who previously played in the IFL for the Iowa Barnstormers before joining the Bucks this season. In their Week 1 victory, Harvey led both teams in receptions and receiving yards, with 99 yards on 7 catches, including the game-winning touchdown grab. His sharp routes and explosive athleticism will be a threat in any given week.

Another key matchup for the Pirates defense is running back Justin Rankin, who rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. The Kent State alum showed off his hands as well, adding 3 receptions and a crucial 4th quarter touchdown to give the Bucks a 27-25 lead.

The Pirates head to Bismarck to face the Bucks at the Bismarck Event Center.

The Bismarck defense is anchored by DB Deion Carter, who led the teams in tackles (9) and pass break-ups (2). Carter also forced and recovered a fumble on the Bismarck 5-yard-line to halt a Green Bay drive that would have given the Blizzard the lead. Bismarck also rosters DB Dillon Salva and LB Cameron Hunt. Hunt’s interception in the 3rd quarter kept the game at a one-score margin, and led to a go-ahead touchdown early in the 4th.

Massachusetts comes into this matchup following a nail-biting game of their own, falling to the Blizzard in a thrilling ending last week after a week 1 victory against the Louisville Xtreme.

Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield led the Pirates offense the entire game, accounting for all five of the Pirates touchdowns, including four on the ground and one through the air. As a result, Bennifield was named Week 2 Offensive Player of the Week. Running Back Justin Stockton, the Week 1 Offensive Player of the Week, also had a big game, leading both teams in carries (12) and rushing yards (56), while catching 4 passes out of the backfield. The receiving core shared the load last Sunday, with Demarcus Ayers leading the way with 41 yards on 4 receptions, and the lone receiving touchdown. Newly signed Pirate, Terrance Williams, added an additional 3 catches for 33 yards, creating even more matchup problems for any opposing defense.

Following the Week 1 script, the Pirates defense dominated again, holding the Blizzard to one offensive touchdown through the first half. Led by Week 2 Defensive Player of the Week, Linebacker Tavarus Dantzler, the Pirates defense allowed only 2.1 yards per rush and held the Blizzard to 109 yards of total offense. Linebacker Martrell Spiaght led the team in tackles (6), pass break-ups (3), and tied for the team-lead in tackles-for-loss (3) and sacks (1.5) with Dantzler and DL Toby Johnson, respectively.

A win this weekend would give the Pirates momentum and a 2-1 record before their bye week and a crucial stretch of three straight home games beginning May 22nd at the DCU Center. Following an inaugural IFL season in which they went 2-12, Bismarck is hoping to continue its undefeated start to the 2021 season, creating a great early-season matchup for two relatively new teams to the IFL. With back-to-back Offensive Players of the Week and a dominating defense, the Pirates are facing a close and exciting game in which they hope to leave Bismarck with another victory.

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