Pirates Look to Rebound vs. Louisville – Presented by Cintron Energy

By: Mick Moninghoff
Pirates Writer
June 2, 2021

WORCESTER, MA – The Massachusetts Pirates will look to climb back above the .500 mark when they host the Louisville Xtreme (0-4) this Saturday at 7:05pm at Phoenix Field in the DCU Center. The Pirates (2-2) had a bye week to review a disappointing 34-26 defeat at the hands of the Spokane Shock in their home opener on May 22. The tone was set for that game when kicker Gabriel Rui was downgraded from questionable to out before kickoff. Massachusetts squandered a 26-7 third quarter lead in a game that saw five offensive turnovers (one which included a pick six), a muffed return on special teams resulting in an “uno,” 15 penalties for a total of 94 yards and a lower body injury to starting quarterback Alejandro Bennifield, who left the game just before halftime. Bennifield is being monitored and a decision on his availability against Louisville will be made later this week.

The positive is that the Pirates defense held Spokane to just 106 yards of total offense. Massachusetts currently leads the Indoor Football League allowing opponents an average of just 127.5 yards per game and they are also number one against the run, giving up 23.5 yards each outing. The defense has kept the team in every game allowing a league best 27.5 points per contest.

Individually the defense is led by Martrell Spaight who is third in the league in tackles with 31, tied for second with 5.5 tackles for a loss and tied for fifth with teammate Tavarus Dantzler, each with 2.5 sacks. Dantzler is also tied for first in the IFL with seven tackles for a loss. The Pirates JD Griggs ranks eighth in tackles with 18.

On the offensive side, Bennifield ranks third in the IFL in four categories; completions with 43, 78 pass attempts, 481 passing yards and nine touchdown passes. Wide receiver Thomas Owens is tied for first with six touchdown receptions and is second with 20 receptions and receiving yards with 282. Owens is complemented by Terrence Williams who has 14 receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown. Running back Justin Stockton is currently third in the IFL with 181 yards rushing as he averages 45.25 yards per game on 4.5 yards per carry. Stockton is also the Pirates third leading receiver with nine catches for 49 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

This will be the second meeting between the Pirates and the Xtreme. Massachusetts scored its highest point total of the season as they won the season opener at the KFC Yum! Center 49 to 18. The Bennifield to Owens connection clicked three times for touchdowns as Owens caught five passes for a total of 93 yards. Bennifield was four of nine for 88 yards with three scores plus a rushing touchdown. Stockton gained 76 yards on 11 carries and found the end zone on a six-yard run and with a four- yard TD Pass. He was named IFL Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. The defense held the Xtreme to 131 yards of total offense. JD Griggs scored the first touchdown of the season on a 12-yard fumble recovery.

Through four games the Xtreme is averaging 29 points per game while giving up 45.2, yet over their last two games Louisville is showing strong signs of improvement. After losing an eight-point game to the Frisco Fighters, the Xtreme followed that up last weekend with a hard fought 49-43 setback to the Sioux Falls Storm. Louisville quarterback Dalton Oliver was 21 of 34 for 237 yards and five touchdowns. Three of those scores went to wide receiver Todd Athey who had seven receptions for 88 yards. The other two were grabbed by wide receiver Keyondre Craig. Craig had an impressive debut as he had 11 receptions for 132 yards and two scores. Edgar Poe (16 receptions for 157 yards and four touchdowns) and Quan Shorts (15 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns) make up a solid receiving corps. Over the past few weeks Lance Moise has emerged as the Xtreme’s lead back as he has 73 yards on 19 carries. The defense is led by defensive back Kyree McLean who has 19 tackles, an interception and three passes broken up. Perez Ford anchors the defensive front with 12 tackles, two for a loss, a fumble recovery, one pass broken up and a quarterback hurry.

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 are available now at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6227). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard