Pirates Look to Rustle Up Wranglers

By: Mick Moninghoff
Pirates Writer
August, 11, 2021

WORCESTER, MA – The 9-3 Massachusetts Pirates will have several streaks on the line this Sunday afternoon in Prescott Valley, AZ when they take on the 1-11 Northern Arizona Wranglers at the Findlay Toyota Center. The Pirates are looking for their seventh consecutive victory which would set a franchise record and be the longest winning streak by any team in the Indoor Football League this season. A victory would also give Massachusetts its fifth straight triumph on the road. Additionally, a win would lock up a top three overall seed in the upcoming playoffs. Kickoff in Arizona is scheduled for 6:00 pm eastern. This will be the first ever meeting between the two teams.

The Pirates boast the number one defense in the IFL yielding a league best 35.7 points per game. Massachusetts is also number one allowing 4.2 yards per play, 180.2 yards per game, has the best defensive third down conversion percentage at 30.2 and has the best defensive efficiency with a rating of 118.6. The Pirates are number two against the run giving up 54.2 rushing yards per game and second against the pass allowing 126.0 passing yards per contest. The team is also third in the league with nine interceptions and third with 16 sacks.

The Massachusetts offense has moved up to fourth in the IFL scoring 43.1 points per game, finding a new gear. Over the last three games the Pirates have scored 50 or more points each time out.

The Pirates are eighth in rushing with 62.8 yards per game while the Wranglers are ninth averaging 60.3. The passing stats are similar as Massachusetts gains 145.2 yards, fourth in the IFL, while Northern Arizona is fifth with 139.3. The Wranglers however score 31.8 points per game (11th) and give up 52.5 (12th).

Last week the Pirates dominated the Green Bay Blizzard 50-33. It also was the first time in the history of the franchise that Massachusetts did not throw a touchdown pass in a game. Running back Justin Stockton led all rushers with 46 yards on ten carries, finding the endzone three times. Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield ran nine times for 29 yards with two scores.

Bennifield was 11 of 17 passing for 94 yards and one interception. His top target was Laquvionte Gonzalez who had five receptions for 36 yards. QB Sean Brackett was one of three for nine yards.

Defensively for the Pirates Aarion Maxey-Penton had six tackles while breaking up one pass. Defensive lineman Toby Johnson finished with five tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss and forced a fumble.

Northern Arizona did not throw a TD pass last week either. They however, are coming off their worst loss of the season, a 60-point setback against Duke City, 71-11. It was the second time this season that the Gladiators hung 71 on the Wranglers. Northern Arizona QB Verlon Reed Jr. was 11 of 25 for 86 yards with two interceptions. Teammate Caden Walters was 1 of 5 for seven yards and two interceptions.

Receivers Todd Athey had four receptions for 39 yards and Skylor Clinton added four for 27. The lone touchdown for the Wranglers was scored by linebacker Russell Williams Jr. who returned a fumble 45 yards for a score.

Players to Watch:

Pirates running back Justin Stockton is seventh in the IFL with 339 rushing yards. He is also 8th in the league averaging 4.7 yards per carry and is sixth with 38.8 yards per game. Alejandro Bennifield is fourth with 16 rushing touchdowns. Wranglers QB Verlon Reed Jr. is fifth gaining 5.0 per carry and ranks tenth with 29.3 rushing yards per game.

The Quarterbacks:

Bennifield continues to make his mark on the IFL in his first year as a starter. He is 134 (4th) of 242 (2nd) with 8 interceptions (2nd) with a completion percentage of 55.4 percent (6th) for 1,609 yards (2nd) with 34 touchdowns (2nd) averaging 134.1 yards per game (5th) with an efficiency rating of 151.0 (4th).

Reed Jr. has completed 121 passes (5th) out of 227 (5th) with 8 interceptions (4th) for a percentage of 52.0 (9th) with 19 touchdowns (7th) for 1,268 yards (6th) averaging 140.9 yards per game (4th) with an efficiency rating of 119.5 (9th).

Receiving:

Even with only one catch for 13 yards last week, wideout Thomas Owens of the Pirates continues to be near the top of the charts. Owens has 54 receptions (2) for 754 yards (2) with 19 touchdowns (3), averages 14.0 yards per catch (5) with 4.5 receptions per game (3rd) and pulls in 62.8 yards per game (2nd).

Scoring:

Owens ranks seventh in scoring with 9.7 points per game while Bennifield is ninth with 8.2. Owens is also ninth in the IFL with 18 touchdowns.

Kicking:

Wranglers’ kicker Tim Parker has made 27 (6th) of 37 (5th) extra points and five (6th) of 16 (5th) field goals making 33.1 percent (8th) for a total of 42 (6th) points. In two games this season Ali Mourtada of the Pirates is 12 of 13 on PAT’s and 5 (4th) of 9 (7th) on field goals making 55.5 percent (3rd) for a total of 27 kicking points. Mourtada also has the longest field goal in the IFL this season of 54 yards.

Returns:

Pirates kick returner Laquvionte Gonzalez ranks third in the IFL with 38 returns for 774 yards for an average of 20.4 and two touchdowns.

Total Offense:

Bennifield ranks fifth in total offense with 1,786 yards and is seventh with 148.8 yards per game. Reed Jr. of Northern Arizona has 1,532 yards, which is sixth in the IFL and averages 170.2 yards per game, ranking him third.

All-Purpose Yards:

Gonzalez is fourth in the league with 1,129 all-purpose yards and fourth with 102.6 yards per game. Owens is ninth with 754 all-purpose yards.

Tackles:

Santos Ramirez of the Pirates is ninth in tackles with 69 and tenth averaging 5.8 per game.

Tackles for Loss:

Tavarus Dantzler of Massachusetts is sixth with 8.5 on the season.

Sacks:

J.D. Griggs of the Pirates is 10th in the IFL with 2.5.

Passes Defended:

Three Pirates are among the leagues’ best. Harlan Miller is fourth with 13, third with four interceptions and sixth with 10 passes broken up. Aarion Maxey-Penton is eighth with 11 and ranks seventh with three picks. Khalid Wooten is ninth with 10 and is fifth with 10 passes broken up.

Fumbles Recoveries/Forced Fumbles:

The Pirates Chucky Williams leads the IFL with three fumbles recovered. Toby Johnson is second in the league with three forced fumbles while Santos Ramirez is sixth with two.

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 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