Gable’s Kick Gives Pirates 37-34 Win – Presented by Steward Health

By: Mick Moninghoff
Pirates Writer
June 19, 2021

TUCSON, AZ- Josh Gable’s 46-yard field goal as time expired gave the Massachusetts Pirates a 37-34 win over the Tucson Sugar Skulls (1-4) Saturday night at the Tucson Convention Center. For Gable it was his third field goal of the game as he connected on kicks from 45, 26 and 46 yards.

Massachusetts (4-3) opened the scoring on their second possession as Alejandro Bennifield connected with Laquivonte Gonzalez on a 28-yard scoring play. The point after by Josh Gable was good for a seven – nothing lead. The advantage was short lived as on the ensuing kickoff the Pirates were called for an unsportsmanlike penalty giving the Sugar Skulls a short 15-yard field. Two plays later, quarterback Demry Croft found wide receiver Ryan Balentine from nine yards out to tie the game.

Gable then gave the Pirates the lead to start the second quarter with a 45-yard field goal, putting Massachusetts up 10-7, but Tucson came right back with a seven play, 45 yard drive with running back Mike Jones taking it the final two yards into the end zone putting the Sugar Skulls ahead 14-10.

The Pirates called on Gable again to keep the game close as the first half came to a close. His 26-yard field goal with 1:10 on the clock put the Pirates down by one, 14-13. Both defenses were stout as the Pirates outgained the Sugar Skulls in total yards 89 to 81.

The offense showed up in the second half. Tucson started quickly. On the very first play Croft went deep to Balentine who pulled in a 30 yard reception. The catch made him the Indoor Football Leagues’ all-time leading receiver with 5,617 yards. On the next play Jones pulled in a five-yard swing pass to make the score 20 to 13 as Daniel Bowen’s PAT attempt was no good.

The Pirates answered with a four-play, 31 yard drive as Bennifield teamed up with Thomas Owens on a seven-yard scoring play and with Gable’s PAT the Pirates tied the game at 20 with 9:41 on the clock. For Owens it was his tenth TD reception of the year. The touchdown pass gave Bennifield his 17th on the campaign.

Croft dominated the next Tucson drive. The QB gained 25 yards on five carries and reached the end zone on a five yard run and with Bowen’s point after, the Sugar Skulls led by seven. The Pirates came right back with Bennifield scoring on a sneak to tie the game at 27.

Gable contributed for the Pirates once again to start the final quarter. His line drive kickoff hit Braelen Evans and Massachusetts recovered at their one-yard line. The Pirates drove the length of the field with Bennifield eventually scoring his tenth rushing touchdown of the season on a one-yard run to take a 34-27 lead with 9:24 remaining.

Then the Massachusetts defense made a statement. Tucson looked to tie the game, driving the ball to the one yard line. On second and goal Croft was stopped by Toby Johnson who forced a fumble that was recovered by Chucky Williams. The Sugar Skulls would tie the game at 34 all on their next possession with Croft scoring on a two yard run just 18 seconds remaining.

The Pirates had one last chance to win the game starting their final drive from midfield. Massachusetts could not advance the ball and two penalties set up a fourth and 20 from the 15. Gable came on to attempt a 46 yard field goal. After back-to-back timeouts attempting to “ice” him, Gable drilled the ball through the uprights as time expired giving the Pirates a hard fought 37-34 victory. The Pirates are now 3-1 on the road this season. Massachusetts will now have bye week before traveling to Frisco, Texas to face the fighters on July 3.

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 (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Faceboo.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard