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.
Kenneth Farrow II rushed for an AAF-record 142 yards to power the San Antonio Commanders to a 12-11 victory over the previously undefeated Birmingham Iron on Sunday in Birmingham.
The Commanders (2-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and earned the first road victory in franchise history. The Iron fell to 3-1.
“The Iron have a good, solid football team,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “They are very, very sound and physical. They are really hard to score against when you get down in the red zone, as everybody saw. Both teams had to fight to the end and I was real proud that we won the game.”
Farrow, the Commanders’ leading ball carrier on the season, started at running back against the Iron and had the bulk of the carries. Trey Williams also saw some action at running back. The Commanders finished with 161 rushing yards as a team.
“Ken is a good solid player,” Riley said. “We have good running backs. Ken is a good example of that group and had a very special night. He ran hard, worked hard. All of it was hard. The game was hard. It was physical, hard football.”
Farrow had a big part in the Commanders’ only touchdown drive of the game in the third quarter. Williams finished the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run that put the Commanders up 9-3.
The Commanders got their best starting field position of the game in the fourth quarter after a fumble recovery. Nick Rose kicked a 20-yard field goal with 3:58 left to extend the Commanders’ lead to 12-3. That field goal came after the Iron stuffed a series of Commanders running plays on a goal-line stand.
“Birmingham has been the leading red zone defense in the league,” Riley said. “We just about tried it all. We’re just going to have to go back and look at it again. At some point you have to block them to get into the end zone. We didn’t. They stopped us and that’s what kept the game interesting all the way down to the end.”
Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside completed 11-of-25 passes for 106 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I thought Logan did a great job of competing and making some plays and doing some things we needed to do,” Riley said. “We didn’t throw the ball as effectively throughout the game as we wanted to. That was due both to the way the game was going and what we tried to do with the football when we got it, which was run the ball primarily.
“Also the pressure he got made it tough to make some throws. And then we hit some big throws. On one in particular we got a penalty, which was crazy bad timing.”
The Commanders scaled back some of the rotations they used in earlier games. Instead of using three running backs, the stuck with Farrow and Williams. And Marquise Williams, who saw time at quarterback the previous two games, was not involved in this game.
The Iron made the game close late. Trent Richardson scored on a 1-yard run with 1:41 remaining. Luis Perez threw for the two-point conversion to cut the Commanders’ lead to one point.
In the AAF’s substitute for an on-side kick, Commanders safety Orion Stewart made an interception to end the Iron’s last hope.
The Commanders have two more road games before returning to the Alamodome. Next up is the Arizona Hotshots on Sunday at 7 p.m. Central (NFL Network).
Ask the San Antonio Commanders about the Birmingham Iron and a theme appears:
The Iron don’t make mistakes.
If you want to beat the Iron, you can’t make mistakes.
“I think they forced more punts than anybody in the league,” Commanders coach Mike Riley. “Then they’re just really, really solid. I think that’s their team. That’s why they’re undefeated.
“They’ve been in pretty close games. But they’ve won them because they haven’t beat themselves. I’m sorry to say we’ve beat ourselves. We’ve thrown two touchdown interceptions. Then we’ve had too many penalties. That’s kind of been the difference in the games.”
The Commanders (1-2) and Iron (3-0) play Sunday at 3 p.m. Central time. The game is televised on CBS Sports Network.
The Birmingham defense has made five interceptions, including two by Jamar Summers. The Iron defense allows a league-low 7.0 points per game. The Iron have given up only one rushing touchdown this season and no runs longer than 24 yards.
“Really good defense,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “They have a really good linebacker corps. In the secondary they move around a whole lot. It will be a big challenge for us. I know they’re coached really well. So it will be fun to go down there and play against them.”
Birmingham quarterback Luis Perez has had modest stats but avoided turnovers. In three games he has thrown 102 passes with only one interception and no touchdowns. Woodside has thrown two touchdown passes this season, but also five interceptions including two that were returned for touchdowns.
“We’ve got too many mistakes, too many critical mistakes,” Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston said. “Some of these interceptions are game-changers. The two pick-sixes really changed the flow of that game each time. We gave up points in the red zone on another interceptions. Not only are they interceptions, but they’ve been costly.”
The Iron haven’t been putting up big rushing numbers either. Running back Trent Richardson, the most high profile player on the team, averages only 2.5 yards per carry. But Richardson has been tough to stop in short-yardage situations and has six rushing touchdowns. He has also caught 10 passes.
The Commanders have a stronger overall running game this season at 149.0 yards per game and 4.81 yards per carry. Kenneth Farrow II has run for two touchdowns. Trey Williams made his season debut last week and averaged 10.7 yards per carry.
But for the last two weeks, the Commanders have been hurt by turnovers and penalties and wound up with losses.
“I think we’ve had a good week,” Riley said. “I think the reaction to the last loss has actually been a good one by this group as far as their work. I think we’ve had three of our better practices of the year.
“That’s what a loss will do for you once in a while. I think enthusiasm for the work was maybe at a little higher level.”
A road victory Sunday would even the Commanders’ record to 2-2. A loss would give them a three-game losing streak with two more road games coming up before the team returns to the Alamodome.
“I think there is obviously a sense of urgency,” Riley said. “Nobody likes losing. I think the only way to dig is out of it is to really, really work at preparing and getting ready to play and the attitude is really the key to that preparation and preparation is the key to how you’re going to play. How you play is if you’re going to win. It dominoes.”
Pos Player Injury Fri. Participation Game Status
DT MATT GODIN HEAD DNP OUT
TE COLE HUNT LOWER LEG DNP OUT
OL FRED LAUINA ANKLE LIMITED QUESTIONABLE
WR MEKALE MCKAY LOWER LEG LIMITED QUESTIONABLE
CB JORDAN THOMAS WRIST DNP OUT
Pos Player Injury Fri. Participation Game Status
DB TROVON REED R. ANKLE DNP OUT
WR AMBA ETTA-TAWO R. KNEE DNP OUT
C JC HASSENAUER KNEE DNP OUT
TE BUSTA ANDERSON L. HAMSTRING DNP OUT
LB XZAVIER DICKSON L. KNEE FULL QUESTIONABLE
WR L’DAMIAN WASHINGTON GROIN LIMITED QUESTIONABLE
LB JONATHAN MASSAQUOI NECK FULL QUESTIONABLE
Trey Williams looked like he would be one of the San Antonio Commanders’ top offensive threats going into the season.
The 5-foot-7, 200-pound running back led Texas A&M in rushing his junior season. He also caught passes and was a kick returner. He showed what kind of speed he had with the Aggies by returning a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. He had enough talent to be signed by the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.
But as the Commanders opened their 2019 season, Williams was on the sidelines with what general manager Daryl Johnston described as a turf toe.
“For the most part I’ve been dealing with that and trying to overcome that really and continue to do what I’ve been doing and producing,” Williams said. “Just a lot of prayer and being patient. Pretty much just starving yourself out there. As soon as you get out there you’ve got to go get it.”
In the third week of the season, Williams was back.
“It just felt good being back on the field. Getting my feet back we again,” Williams saide. “It felt good to be out there with my teammates I trained with. I’m just thankful to be back and help this team win some games.”
He carried the ball seven times and averaged better than 10 yards per carry in a loss to the San Diego Fleet. He also caught two passes for 12 yards.
“He brought a lot of fire power,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “He busted out a few big runs. He caught the ball out of the backfield really well. It was good to have him back and have some speed back there for him to get it going.”
Williams is one of four running backs on the team, along with Kenneth Farrow II, David Cobb and Aaron Green. Farrow has been starting at running back with the Commanders rotating three backs during the games.
“I feel I bring a lot of versatility to the team as far as catching the ball and getting it out of the backfield and being in that offset and pro-style offense,” Williams said. “I bring a lot to the table, I feel speed and quickness. With Farrow and AG and David Cobb, with those guys, I feel like it’s a good mix. Once we get this show on the road it’s going to be unstoppable.”
The Commanders are on the road again this Sunday and face what may be the most solid defense in the AAF in the Birmingham Iron. The challenge presented by the undefeated Iron will be less daunting if the Commanders can have a big game running the ball.
“We know Birmingham is coming with a lot,” Williams said. “We’re coming with a lot as well. We have a lot of fire power. We have everything we need to beat Birmingham. I’m not too much worried about what they have. It’s about us.”
San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talked to the media on Thursday following the team’s practice.
The two biggest topics where Jason Witten, who announced he is returning to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and Johnny Manziel, who might be available to play in the Alliance of American Football after his CFL contract was terminated yesterday.
First a little background on a few points.
– Daryl Johnston spent his NFL career as a fullback for the Dallas Cowboys and won three Super Bowls before retiring and starting a TV career.
– Johnston makes a few references to Tom Dundon. Dundon is the investor who pumped $250 million into the AAF.
– Charlie Ebersol is the league founder.
– Stefan Charles is a former NFL player who signed with the San Antonio Commanders last week.
Daryl Johnston on whether the Commanders are trying to sign Johnny Manziel:
“Nothing with us right now. I think there has been some (talks) with Charlie Ebersol and Tom Dunden. But nothing with us directly here in San Antonio at this point.
“I had a conversation with Tom Dundon. He was the one who informed me yesterday of what happened and that Johnny Manziel was now available. He just said he belongs to you in San Antonio, so what are your thoughts? I said let’s just sit back and see what the league thinks and then we’ll move ahead from there. We’re kind of in a holding pattern right now here locally in San Antonio. We’ll see what the Alliance talks about.
“But it is different. And I asked Tom, I said what is the difference here with some of the other high profile players that have asked to come down? He said the big thing is they’re demanding different salaries. The one thing that Tom wants to make sure is that everybody in the Alliance is paid the same that first year, second year salary will be the same. That was the one big thing.
“It sounds as though Johnny Manziel is comfortable coming down here and playing for the salaries that have been established with us in the Alliance.”
Daryl Johnston on Johnny Manziel and other players coming to the AAF:
“Obviously with his connection to Texas A&M, he comes to San Antonio before he goes anywhere else. The one big thing about this league, and we’ve seen this now with the success of the first couple weeks and the ratings that we’ve got there’s been a lot of discussion. So there’s a lot of guys who are now interested in the Alliance. Obviously as we move through the season we’re going to continue adding players we think can help us win.
“Stefan Charles is one of those guys. Stefan was out there for the entire time through this process but until he really started to hear about it and really see what the Alliance was all about, he was a little bit hesitent to join. So he’s a classic example of one of those guys that you can add late because they’re just starting to hear about it and get their interest.
“The other thing, the Alliance is at the (NFL) combine right now. They’ve got a presence up there. They’re already starting to take a look at some of the guys who are going to be at the bottom of this year’s draft, those sixth-round players, potentially free-agent guys, the type of guys who typically come to us in the Alliance. That’s great.
We’re always looking to add some people as the season goes along. We’re starting to get a presence in some of the other parts of the football calendar.”
Daryl Johnston on Jason Witten returning to the Cowboys:
“I’m happy for him, I really am. I missed him as a player last year. I know the Dallas fans are going to be ecstatic. The one thing you forget about and what he’s done statistically is amazing throughout his career, but that leadership. That was so important during his time with the Dallas Cowboys. No. 1 they’ve got their leader back on the offensive side of the ball and throughout the team.
“I thought he was in a good place with his decision last year. Not a lot of people make that choice and go back, so it will be interesting to see what happens next year.”
When the San Antonio Commanders’ schedule was released, the stretch of four-straight road games immediately stuck out as the toughest stretch the team was likely to face.
That made the first two home games look crucial to build momentum before the team hit the road.
Now the Commanders are three games into the season, have lost two straight and have dropped their first game of the road stretch. On Wednesday they were back on the practice field for the first time since Sunday’s 31-11 loss to the San Diego Fleet.
“I think we had a pretty good day today,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “I think one of the most important things about reacting to a game and I guess specifically a loss is you can look at some stuff on how we can do it better and have concrete evidence about that and show them that, put in a new game plan and go back to work. That’s the best remedy for getting out of a hole.”
The Commanders have had issues on both sides of the ball. In both the season-opening victory and in Sunday’s loss, the offense recorded only one touchdown. Riley said Logan Woodside, the starter at quarterback the first three games of the season, will start again in Week 4.
On Sunday against the Fleet, the Commanders got a boost on offense from running back Trey Williams. The former Texas A&M star sat out the first two games of the season. In San Diego, he carried the ball seven times for 75 yards.
“We’re obviously glad to get Trey back,” Riley said. “Trey looked good and he was productive. I think everybody saw his explosiveness. He’s got real speed and he hit the edge a couple times and not only had speed around the edge, he made some people miss, which was great.”
The Commanders’ defensive concerns revolve around allowing explosive plays the last two weeks.
“We go along pretty good for a while and we give up a big play and it’s a killer,” Riley said. “We’ve just got to be better on not giving up on big plays.”
Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation
DT MATT GODIN HEAD DNP
OL FRED LAUINA ANKLE DNP
Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation
DB TROVON REED R. ANKLE DNP
LB XZAVIER DICKSON L. KNEE DNP
WR AMBA ETTA-TAWO R. KNEE DNP
C JC HASSENAUER KNEE DNP
WR L’DAMIAN WASHINGTON GROIN DNP
QB BLAKE SIMS HAMSTRING LIMITED
LB JONATHAN MASSAQUOI NECK LIMITED
TE BUSTA ANDERSON L. HAMSTRING LIMITED