Commanders’ defense takes away road win over Hotshots

Video from Twitter via @aafcommanders

The San Antonio Commanders’ defense produced five takeaways – including two interceptions by Derron Smith – in a 29-25 road victory over the Arizona Hotshots on Sunday in Tempe, Ariz.

The victory gives the Commanders (3-2) a tie with the San Diego Fleet (3-2) at the top of the AAF West standings. The Commanders have won two straight on the road.

Smith had two of the three interceptions the Commanders’ defense got off Hotshots quarterback John Wolford. That carried the Commanders to a 26-0 first-half lead. Wolford had thrown only three interceptions in the first four games combined but had three in the first half against the Commanders. De’Vante Bausby had the Commanders’ other interception.

Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside was sharp in the first half, completing 12 of 13 passes for 192 passes. He finished the game 21 of 27 for 290 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

The Hotshots made a game of it in the second half, outscoring the Commanders 25-3 over the third and fourth quarters. The Commanders’ defense made a final game-clinching stop when the Hotshots went for an on-side conversion in the last two minutes of the game.

The Commanders got the first big play of the game on the Hotshots opening possession. Smith intercepted a Wolford pass and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown.

The Commanders were also efficient on offense early, scoring touchdowns on their first three possession. The Commanders extended their early lead to 14-0 on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Woodside to Mekale McKay.

The Commanders’ second offensive possession of the game cashed in on a 1-yard touchdown run by Kenneth Farrow II. Woodside threw a 5-yard TD pass to tight end Stehly Reden and the Commanders lead 26-0.

San Antonio had a drive into the red zone at the end of the first half. That ended on a turnover after a miss-timed snap. The Commanders had a second-half drive in the red zone come up empty on an interception near the goal line.

The Hotshots hit back-to-back long passes on their first possession of the second half. The second of those two completions was a 45-yard touchdown from Wolford to Rashad Ross. The Hotshots added a 23-yard field goal by former Dallas Cowboys kicker Nick Folk. Wolford’s second touchdown pass went 4 yards to tight end Thomas Duarte.

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San Antonio Commanders vs. Arizona Hotshots preview

San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II at practice on Friday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepared for today's meeting with the Arizona Hotshots. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II at practice on Friday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepared for today’s meeting with the Arizona Hotshots. – photo by Joe Alexander
When the San Antonio Commanders walk off the field tonight, their regular season will be half over.

If the Commanders win their road game against the Arizona Hotshots, they will be tied for the lead in the AAF West. A Commanders loss would leave them in a second-place tie but only a game above last place.

“I’m just excited for this next game,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We know it’s a big game, a really good opponent in Arizona. We’ll be ready to go.”

The Commanders (2-2) and Hotshots (2-2) play at 7 p.m. Central time at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

(TV on NFL Network, radio in San Antonio on ESPN SA AM-1250)

The San Diego Fleet (3-2), playing a day head of the Commanders and Hotshots, got a field goal on the final play of the game to beat the Salt Lake Stallions and jump to the top of the West standings.

The Commanders are coming off a 12-11 road victory over the Birmingham Iron in which the Commanders got a dominating performance from running back Kenneth Farrow II. The Commanders also had the advantage in turnovers against the Iron.

The Commanders are likely to push for another big running game tonight.

“It is very important that we find the runs we need in the game,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “If we take care of the football and we run the ball well we have a good chance to win.”

The Hotshots’ offense is directed by quarterback John Wolford, who is completing 61.2 percent of his passes in the first four games for 780 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions. He will face the Commanders defense that leads the AAF in quarterback sacks.

The Hotshots’ running backs collectively average 4.8 yards per carry but have only one rushing touchdown. Jhurell Pressley is their top ball carrier with 266 yards and 4.9 yards per carry.

“They’re pretty multiple offensively,” Riley said. “They are probably more (run-pass options) than anybody that we’ll see. They have an active quarterback. He’s a good kind of a slick operator with that stuff. ”

The Hotshots’ head coach is former San Antonio Gunslingers quarterback Rick Neuheisel. This will be the fifth meating for Riley and Neuheisel as head coaches with the first four all coming in college games in the Pac-12. Both coaches have won two of those meetings.

“Rick is a great coach, a great guy,” Riley said. “I’m really proud to be in the league with him. I know they’ll have a good team, well prepared. We’re going to have to play well to beat them.”

Commanders vs. Hotshots injury report for Friday; defensive backs photo gallery

San Antonio Commanders cornerback De'Vante Bausby (41) makes an interception in the end zone at practice Friday at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders cornerback De’Vante Bausby (41) makes an interception in the end zone at practice Friday at Central Catholic High School. – photo by Joe Alexander
From a Commanders news release

SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation Fri. Participation — Game Status
DL Winston Craig Ankle DNP DNP LP — Questionable
DL Matt Godin Head DNP LP LP — Questionable
TE Cole Hunt Lower Leg DNP DNP DNP — Out

ARIZONA HOTSHOTS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation Fri. Participation — Game Status
WR Josh Huff Knee DNP DNP Placed on IR — Out
OL Patrick Lewis Knee LP LP LP — Questionable
OL Brant Weiss Ankle LP LP LP — Doubtful
WR Richard Mullaney Knee LP LP LP — Questionable
LB Steven Johnson Hamstring LP LP LP — Questionable
DB Shaq Richardson Knee LP LP LP — Questionable
OL Andrew Lauderdale Back – LP LP — Questionable
DB Robert Nelson Hamstring – – LP — Questionable
DB Eric Dargan Hamstring – – LP — Questionable

Limited Participation (LP)=less than 100% of a player’s normal reps
Did Not Participate in Practice (DNP)

Commanders vs. Hotshots injury report for Thursday, practice photo gallery

San Antonio Commanders defensive lineman Matt Godin at practice on Thursday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepares for Sunday's meeting with the Arizona Hotshots. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders defensive lineman Matt Godin at practice on Thursday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepares for Sunday’s meeting with the Arizona Hotshots. – photo by Joe Alexander
SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation
DL Winston Craig Ankle DNP DNP
DL Matt Godin Head DNP LP
TE Cole Hunt Lower Leg DNP DNP

ARIZONA HOTSHOTS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation
WR Josh Huff Knee DNP DNP
OL Patrick Lewis Knee LP LP
OL Brant Weiss Ankle LP LP
WR Richard Mullaney Knee LP LP
LB Steven Johnson Hamstring LP LP
DB Shaq Richardson Knee LP LP
OL Andrew Lauderdale Back — LP

Limited Participation (LP)=less than 100% of a player’s normal reps
Did Not Participate in Practice (DNP)

Daryl Johnston, Kenneth Farrow II on Commander’s run game

San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston watches Thursday's practice at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston watches Thursday’s practice at Central Catholic High School. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders have been able to control the clock at times this season with their running game.

In Sunday’s victory over the Birmingham Iron, Kenneth Farrow II had the dominant performance in the game by carrying the ball for a league-record 142 yards.

The game gave the team the sense that their combination of an offensive line that is coming together is meshing with the running back crew of Farrow, Trey Williams, David Cobb and Aaron Green.

“The good thing about it is we’ve got a room full of running backs who can kind of make that happen at any time,” Farrow said. “Like last week, Trey (Williams) went off for 75 yards on a few carries. It’s kind of whoever has got the hot hand. Hopefully we can get a game where we’re all feeling it and we’re all busting it.”

Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston emphasized multiple benefits of the strong running game. The most obvious is to move the ball and dominate time of possession. The other is to create space and opportunities to hit passes for big gains.

“That methodical approach in the run game, that now you start to pull up a defense and you can get over the top,” Johnston said. “That’s what we’ve got to add this week. When people watch the film and see that we’re very competitive against Birmingham in the run game, a defense that’s pretty stingy, now if we can start to get more players added down into that box, we can start to get some favorable matchups on the outside. That’s what I hope the run game does.

“If people start to see that balance that we have, we should be able to pre-snap, be able to determine, because we’re going to the play at the line of scrimmage with multiple options in a run-pass situation that we’ll be able to choose the one best for that situation.”

For Farrow, who was slowed by injuries at the beginning of his pro career, there were no complaints about the workload after having 30 carries against the Iron.

“We got the win. That’s all that matters,” Farrow said. “It was fun getting in a rhythm and seeing the O Line have a good game like they did. It was definitely a fun day.”

Kenneth Farrow II finally healthy –
Greg Luca’s story in the Express-News:

expressnews.com

Riley Smith returns to Commanders practice

Commanders receiver Riley Smith at practice Wednesday. – photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders receiver Riley Smith at practice Wednesday. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders wide receiver Riley Smith, who was injured at the beginning of training camp in January, was back at practice on Wednesday at Central Catholic High School.

The Commanders activated Smith off the injured list on Tuesday.

Smith, from Boise, Idaho, played in college at West Texas A&M.

Commanders vs. Hotshots injury report for Wednesday

San Antonio Commanders helmet from image released by the AAF @theAAF on Twitter.From a Commanders news release:

SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation
DL Winston Craig Ankle DNP
DL Matt Godin Head DNP
TE Cole Hunt Lower Leg DNP

ARIZONA HOTSHOTS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation
WR Josh Huff Knee DNP
OL Patrick Lewis Knee LP
OL Brant Weiss Ankle LP
WR Richard Mullaney Knee LP
LB Steven Johnson Hamstring LP
DB Shaq Richardson Knee LP

Limited Participation (LP)=less than 100% of a player’s normal reps
Did Not Participate in Practice (DNP)

Logan Woodside, Mike Riley on Commanders’ win over Iron

San Antonio Commanders quarterbacks Logan Woodside (10), Marquise Williams (12) and Logan Woodside (5) at practice at Central Catholic High School on Wednesday as they prepared for the Arizona Hotshots in the fifth game of the season. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders quarterbacks Logan Woodside (10), Marquise Williams (12) and Logan Woodside (5) at practice at Central Catholic High School on Wednesday as they prepared for the Arizona Hotshots in the fifth game of the season. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders’ 12-11 victory over the Birmingham Iron on Sunday did more than snap the team out of a two-game losing streak.

The Commanders are now 1-1 on the road and 2-2 overall, putting them in a tie for the lead in the AAF West.

“There’s three of in the West that are 2-2,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “Every victory right now is really kind of important for that inching ahead.”

The Commanders earned their victory over the Iron by running the ball and putting together some long drives. Having to string together drives came in large part because they were often taking over the ball around the 10-yard line. The Commanders got their first possession at the 9, and drove far enough to get a Nick Rose field goal and a 3-0 lead.

“The first drive of last week, we didn’t get a touchdown but we came away with three points,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We held the ball for a while. I think that’s good for us because it gets our defense a chance to rest.

“The punter did a really good job. He had a really good leg. It’s tough but we had to start from the 10-yard line a few times. It’s just up to the offense to make plays and not make mistakes and go down and try to put points on the board.”

The offense chewed up the clock largely on the 30 carries for a league-record 142 yards by running back Kenneth Farrow II. Trey Williams also saw a little action at running back and ran for a touchdown.

“I think we came out and established the run game,” Woodside said. “The O line and Ken (Farrow) did a great job throughout the game and really made it easy on me. I was really happy and proud of those guys and proud of Ken for sure.

“I just had to do my job. I can’t control how the plays are called. When they are just execute them to the best of my ability. Had to make a few checks throughout the game in the run game. I think that helped us out, so it was good. I think that’s something I pride myself on during the week is getting the right looks and getting the run game because that can really help us out a lot.”

The Commanders’ defense held the Iron to one touchdown and also came up with critical turnovers. The turnover battle, which had hurt the Commanders in the their two losses, worked out on San Antonio’s side on Sunday.

“We were running the ball. It was really close to the vest,” Riley said. “One mistake by either team was probably going to lose the game. That’s what happened. They turned the ball over to over and we won the game.”

Wednesday’s practice at Central Catholic was the first for the team since Sunday’s game. The positive feeling from the victory seemed to carry over into practice.

“It was hard and we had to fight to win and everybody feels good when that happens,” Riley said. “It was a good football team, very, very solid Birmingham. So it took everything to beat them. I think they feel good about that because they know our team prepared well and we played hard – really hard – in that game.”

Maea Teuhema returns to Commanders practice

Commanders offensive lineman Maea Teuhema at practice Wednesday at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders offensive lineman Maea Teuhema at practice Wednesday. – photo by Joe Alexander
One day after being put back on the active roster, Maea Teuhema with his big No. 76 jersey was back on the San Antonio Commanders practice field on Wednesday at Central Catholic High School.

Teuhema, a 6-foot-4, 358-pound offensive tackle from Southeastern Louisiana, had been on the Commanders’ injured list.

Commanders’ Kenneth Farrow II named AAF offensive player of the week

San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II played in high school at Bell High School in Hurst just outside of Fort Worth. - photo by Joe Alexander
Kenneth Farrow II, shown in training camp, earned AAF offensive player of the week honors. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II was named offensive player of the week by the Alliance of American Football for Week 4.

Farrow rushed for an AAF single-game record 142 yards in a 12-11 victory over the Birmingham Iron on Sunday. Farrow had 30 carries and averaged 4.7 yards per carry against one of the league’s best defenses.

Memphis linebacker Drew Jackson was named defensive player of the week.

Memphis kicker Austin MacGinnis was named special teams player of the week.