Pirates Seek Distance in Spokane
By: Mick Moninghoff
July 27, 2021
WORCESTER, MA – This Saturday night, the Massachusetts Pirates will look to distance itself in the Indoor Football League standings from the Spokane Shock when the two teams meet in the Spokane Arena at 10:05. The Pirates are currently in third place with a 7-3 record while Spokane is right behind in the fourth spot with a mark of 6-3.
The Pirates should be rested coming off a bye week after a convincing win over the Arizona Rattlers at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center on July 18, while Spokane is looking to bounce back after a 68-61 loss at the hands of the Duke City Gladiators last Saturday night.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams. The 2,729-mile journey from Worcester, MA to Spokane, WA should give the Pirates plenty of time to reflect on what was their most disappointing loss of the season. Back on May 22, the Pirates built a 26 to 7 lead through three quarters only to see the Shock run off 27 straight points to steal a 34 to 26 victory at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center. Spokane used a pick-six interception by Dominic Sanders and fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to power the comeback over the Pirates. Massachusetts committed five turnovers in the game.
However, since June 19, the Pirates have won four straight games in impressive fashion. They won back- to-back games on the road with walk-off field goal victories, defeating Tucson and then handing Frisco its first loss of the season. They followed that up with the defense making a stand on the final play to hold off Bismarck and then, in their last outing, Massachusetts dismantled the first place Arizona Rattlers 68-44, stopping the Rattlers six game winning streak. The defense held the Ratters to 219 yards of total offense (91 rushing and 128 passing) while the offense had its highest point production of the season. Justin Stockton was Massachusetts’ leading rusher with nine carries for 35 yards and two scores. Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield was 16 of 26 passing for 203 yards and four touchdowns. His two touchdown runs earned him a Pirates single season record as he now has 13 on the year. Wideout Dontez Byrd was the Pirates leading receiver with four receptions for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thomas Owens had four catches for 42 yards and a score while Laquvionte Gonzalez returned a kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown. The Pirates won all of those games without starting linebacker Martrell Spaight who is expected to return to action this weekend.
The Shock started the season with a loss, then ran off four consecutive wins, but have played just .500 ball over the last four weeks including last weekend’s loss in Albuquerque, NM to Duke City. In that game quarterbacks Blake Sims and Marcus McDade both saw action as Sims was 6 of 15 for 53 yards while McDade was 8 of 13 for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Both ran the ball effectively as Sims had 67 yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns. McDade ran five times for 13 yards and a score. Kamerin Solomon had eight carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns.
The top receivers for the Shock were Edgar Poe who had five receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. Solomon added four catches for 33 yards and Jordan Jolley had three receptions for 23 yards and a score. Defensively Spokane was led by Torrance Gibson who had five tackles and Micah Robinson had five stops including two tackles for a loss.
The Pirates are seventh in the IFL averaging 40.4 points per game while the Shock rank third scoring 45 points per contest. On the defensive side the Pirates give up the fewest points per game in the league allowing just 33.8 while the Shock rank fourth at 38.7 points allowed per contest. The Pirates are number one against the pass yielding 116.2 yards per game. Massachusetts is also second against the run (58.9 yards per game), and in total yards with 175.1 per night. The Pirates have 15 sacks on the season which places them second and they have the best third down conversion rate for a defense at 29.8 percent. Spokane is number one defensively when it comes to fourth down conversion rate at 36.0 percent.
Players to Watch
Pirates running back Justin Stockton is the teams’ all-time leading rusher with 293 yards on a franchise leading 65 carries. He also has a 29-yard run this season, which is a team record. Currently Stockton is tenth in the league in attempts, ninth in yards, eighth with a 4.5 average per carry and third with 41.9 rushing yards per game. Pirates quarterback Alejandro Bennifield has 13 rushing touchdowns which places him sixth in the IFL.
The Shock’s featured back is Davonte Sapp-Lynch who ranks eighth in the IFL in attempts (79), yards (300) and touchdowns with 10. He’s also sixth with 37.5 rushing yards per game. Teammate Kamerin Solomon is fifth in the league with an average of 5.5 yards per carry.
Pirates quarterback Alejandro Bennifield continues to be near the top of the IFL in passing yards and TD passes. Bennifield has completed 114 passes (5th) of 209 attempted (3rd) with six interceptions (2nd) for a completion percentage of 54.5 (7th) with 30 touchdowns (2nd), averages 140.2 passing yards per game (5th) with an efficiency rating of 152.8 (4th).
Spokane’s Charles McCullum has missed the last three games due to an ankle injury. He is just 185 yards shy of becoming the IFL’s all-time career passing leader. McCullum was completing 60.2 percent of his passes at the time of his injury which places him fifth in the league. In his absence he has been backed up by Blake Sims and Marcus McDade.
Thomas Owens of the Pirates continues to be the top receiver in the IFL, leading the league with 710 receiving yards and averaging 71.0 yards per game. Owens has 50 receptions (2nd), 16 touchdowns (2nd), averages 14.2 yards per catch (6th) and 5.0 receptions per game (3rd). Owens is also eighth in scoring averaging 10.4 points per game.
Kamerin Solomon of the Shock is eighth in receptions with 33, sixth with 4.1 receptions per game and tenth with 42.0 receiving yards per game.
In the return game Laquvionte Gonzalez ranks first averaging 21.7 yards per kick return. His two kickoff returns for touchdowns are also an IFL best. The Pirates speedster is fourth in the league with 630 return yards.
When it comes to total offense, Bennifield is fifth with 1,534 yards and McCullum is ninth with 925. Three of the league leaders in all-purpose yards will be on the field Saturday as Gonzalez ranks fifth with 920 yards and in average per game with 102.2. Owens has 710 all-purpose yards which ranks him eighth. He is also ninth averaging 71.0 yards per game. Sapp Lynch of the Shock is currently eighth averaging 74.8 all-purpose yards per game.
Spokane’s Sawyer Petre is one of the top kickers in the league. Petre has made 43 (2nd) of 51 (2nd) extra points. His 76 kicking points and 8.4 points per game are the best in the IFL. He is also 11 (2nd) of 21 (2nd) in field goals for a percentage of 52.4 (2nd). Josh Gable of the Pirates is 17 (7th) of 24 (7th) in PAT’s and has 10 made field goals (3rd) in 19 attempts (5th) for a percentage of 47.3 (5th). His 47 points rank him fifth among kickers.
Defensively, Spokane’s Mike Green leads the IFL with 77 tackles and is number one averaging 8.6 tackles per game. The Pirates’ Ahmad Dixon is eighth averaging six tackles per game.
Tavarus Dantzler of the Pirates is sixth in the league with 8.5 tackles for a loss while Micah Robinson of Spokane is tenth with seven on the season.
JD Griggs of the Pirates is sixth with 2.5 sacks while Willie Hibbler of the Shock ranks seventh with a pair.
Defensive backs Arrion Maxey-Penton and Harlan Miller of the Pirates and Dominic Sanders of Spokane each have defended ten passes this season. Each have two interceptions along with Mike Green and Cedric Poole of the Shock, which places them among the league leaders. The Pirates Chucky Williams has recovered three fumbles this season which is the most in the IFL. Teammate Toby Johnson has forced two fumbles which ranks him second in the league.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available now at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For 2022 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