Pirates Take the Fight to Frisco

By: Mick Moninghoff
Pirates Writer
June 29, 2021

WORCESTER, MA – This week the Massachusetts Pirates take to the road as they begin the second half of their season against the Frisco Fighters at the Comerica Center in Frisco, TX in the Indoor Football League’s Game of the Week. Kickoff for the nationally televised game on the Stadium Network is scheduled for 8:05 pm Eastern time.

The Pirates are currently 4-3 coming off a bye week. The rest gave them time to collect themselves after a heart-stopping 37-34 win over the Tucson Sugar Skulls. Pirates’ kicker Josh Gable nailed a 46-yard field goal as time expired to give Massachusetts its third road win of the season. Gable was named the IFL Special Teams Player of the Week as he accounted for 13 points in the victory, going four for four on extra points and making field goals of 50, 26 and 46 yards. His 50-yarder equaled his season best which is the longest in the IFL this season.

The Fighters remain the only undefeated team in the league with a record of 5-0. This past week they defeated the Duke City Gladiators 53-48. Duke City held a 22-21 second quarter lead, but Frisco scored twice before halftime with quarterback Jonathan Bane finding wide receiver Lance Evans on a nine-yard scoring play and kicker Krist Martinez added a 28-yard field goal for a 31-22 lead that Frisco would never relinquish.

Bane finished the game 13 of 19 passing for 158 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He was also the leading rusher with 18 yards on six carries and a score. Fighters receiver Manny Arceneaux ran the ball twice for four yard and two touchdowns while fellow wideout Marques Rodgers had four receptions for 66 yards and two scores.

This will be the second meeting between the two teams. The Fighters defeated the Pirates at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center in Worcester on June 12 by a score of 40-33. Pirates quarterback Alejandro Bennifield threw three touchdown passes, going nine of 19 for 128 yards and ran for another in the losing effort. Thomas Owens led the Pirates receiver with four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. The Pirates almost pulled off the upset, scoring with 4:54 to play in the game to trail by seven, but those were the final points of the game. Frisco quarterback Jerrod Heard was the difference maker in the game as he came on to relieve Bane, running for a game high 58 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns. Evans was Frisco’s leading receiver with five catches for 66 yards.

Inside the Numbers:

Frisco is the only unbeaten team in the IFL and is scoring 44.2 points per game which is fifth in the league. Their 234.8 yards of offense per contest ranks fourth (passing for 159.8 and rushing for 75.0 yards per game). The fighters defense is one of the best in the league allowing 39.0 points an outing which ranks fourth. They are also second in yards allowing 164.0 a night, first vs. the run (26.6) and third in pass defense yielding 137.4 yards per game. Frisco leads the IFL with 13 sacks.

The Pirates defense has taken things to a higher level leading the IFL in points allowed per game (31.3), fewest yards per play (3.9) and total yards per game (162.6). Massachusetts ranks second in four other categories, giving up 39.6 rushing yards per game, 123.0 passing yards a night, an opponent third down conversion rate of 29.7 percent, and 10 sacks this season. Massachusetts continues to look for consistency on offense as they rank ninth in scoring (36.7) and seventh in total offense with 205.9 yards per game, rushing for 67.4 yards while passing for 138.4.

Players to Watch:

Pirates Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield is fourth in the league with 77 completions for 144 yards (3rd) for a percentage of 53.5 (7th) with 880 yards (4th), 17 touchdowns (4th), 125.7 yards per game (8th) and a passing efficiency of 139.6 (7th). He also ranks fifth in total offense with 990 yards on the season and third with ten rushing touchdowns.

Running back Justin Stockton has not appeared in the last two games but still ranks sixth with 248 rushing yards on 55 carries (8th) is third in the IFL with 49.6 yards per game and tenth gaining 4.5 yards per carry.

Massachusetts wideout Thomas Owens continues to lead the IFL with 32 receptions and 449 receiving yards. His average of 64.1 yards per game also tops the charts. Owens ranks third with 10 touchdown receptions, seventh with 14.0 yards per catch, third with 4.6 receptions per game and tenth is in scoring producing 8.9 points per game.

The top returner in the game will be LaQuvionte Gonzalez who leads the IFL averaging 23.2 yards per return. His 395 yards rank fourth on 17 returns (7th). Gonzalez is eighth in the league with 92.0 all-purpose yards per game.

Pirates’ linebacker Martrell Spaight has played in only five games but ranks third with 7.0 tackles per contest. He is also fourth with seven tackles for a loss, and seventh with 2.5 sacks. Defensive lineman Tavarus Dantzler is close behind Spaight with six tackles for a loss which places him seventh in the league. Teammate Toby Johnson has two forced fumbles ranking him fourth in the IFL.

In the secondary two Massachusetts defenders are in the top ten with passes broken up as Harlan Miller and Aarion Maxey-Penton each have eight on the season. Maxey Penton also has two interceptions. DB Chucky Williams ranks in the top ten with two fumble recoveries.

The kicking edge goes to the Pirates with Gable who is tied for second in the league with eight made field goals and his 53% on three-point tries is third in the IFL. Gable is sixth in kicking points with a total of 34.

Five members of the Fighters also have cracked the top ten in several statistical categories.

Running back Demarcus Felton is fourth in scoring (12 points per game), attempts (60), and touchdowns (9). Felton is also tenth in yards rushing (169) and yards per game (33.8). Frisco quarterbacks Heard and Bane are averaging five yards per carry which ranks them fourth in the IFL.

Bane’s passing numbers have been solid. He has completed 75 passes (5th) on 122 attempts (7th) with no interceptions for 726 yards (7th) with a percentage of 61.5 (3rd). His 14 touchdowns are sixth best in the league. He also accounts for 152.4 yards per game (4th), is eighth in total offense with 827 yards and has the second-best passer rating at 151.8. His top target has been Evans who is tenth with 22 receptions.

On defense linemen Charles Williams leads the league with 4.5 sacks while Malcolm Goins is fourth with three.

This will be the second consecutive game where the Pirates will appear on the Stadium Game of the Week. Viewers can find Stadium in Boston on WUTF-DT4. To locate Stadium in your location, visit watchstadium.com and click on the IFL tab. Enter your zip code to learn if and where the game may be carried in your area. You can also stream the game right from that page. Stadium is carried by DIRECTV and can also be found through various viewing apps including Roku and Fubo.

Stadium is an original multi-platform sports network featuring exclusive live and on-demand games and events, extensive highlights, classic games, original programming, and daily live studio programming. Stadium includes a 24/7 linear feed distributed across both digital and broadcast platforms, as well as a comprehensive array of on-demand (VOD) digital content including additional live games and events.

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