By the time the clock was winding down Saturday night, the drama was already over.
The San Antonio Commanders had a victory in hand as they led the San Diego Fleet 15-6 with time running out.
That didn’t stop the Fleet, who didn’t score a touchdown in the game, from taking one last shot at the end zone.
Fleet quarterback Philip Nelson was on the field in the fourth quarter after the Commanders’ defensive front beat up San Diego starter Mike Bercovici earlier in the game.
Following a defensive penalty, the Fleet ended the game with an untimed down from the Commanders’ 35-yard line. Nelson threw a high arcing pass into the end zone intended for 6-foot-4 tight end Marcus Baugh.
The pass got through to Baugh’s hands – but that wasn’t the end of the story. MeKale McKay, the Commanders’ 6-foot-3 receiver, was back in the defensive secondary on the play. McKay, safety Chase Dutra and safety Nick Orr all sandwiched Baugh as he went up for the ball.
McKay got his right hand in and helped wrench the ball away from Baugh.
And with a little help from one of San Antonio’s starting receivers, the Commanders’ defense finished the night without giving up a touchdown.
San Antonio Commanders defensive backs made three interceptions in Saturday’s 15-6 victory over the San Diego Fleet at the Alamodome.
Two of those came near the goal line or in the end zone to potentially keep the Fleet from scoring.
De’Vante Bausby’s interception was near the middle of the field. But two snaps after the cornerback from Pittsburg State produced his turnover, the Commanders scored the only touchdown of the game.
“Short fields are critical,” Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston said. “It’s the one way you can come out on top and it’s the one way you can find yourself on the short end of a score afterword.
“To have your defense not only take away an opportunity for points to go on the board for your opponents, but to provide you with an oppornity for points on the board is a huge flip.”
Here is the scene:
The score is tied 6-6 late in the third quarterback. Fleet quarterback Mike Bercovici completes a first-down 17-yard pass to Brian Brown just across midfield to the Commanders’ 47-yard line.
The next play, Bercovici throws a pass intended for Gavin Escobar, the former Dallas Cowboy. Bausby steps in front, intercepts the pass and returns it 19 yards.
Commanders coach Mike Riley looks for a big offensive play when San Antonio takes over. Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside hits Alonzo Moore for a 46-yard gain on the final play of the fourth quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II scores the only touchdown of the game from 3 yards out and the Commanders lead 12-6.
Logan Woodside sprinted out onto the field at the Alamodome on Saturday night as almost 28,000 fans cheered.
“I just got chills. It was kind of surreal,” Woodside said. “I was excited. The fans were excited and they were into it. It was just an overall great experience.”
For the the first time since the 2017 college season, the former University of Toledo quarterback was starting in a real football game.
“It was unbelievable,” Woodside said. “First the fans came out and supported us. They said 27,000 people were here. It was electric. It was everything I dreamed of.”
Woodside was the San Antonio Commanders’ opening game starter after going through a quarterback competition with Dustin Vaughan and Marquise Williams. Woodside completed 18-of-36 passes for 255 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptioons as the Commanders beat the San Diego Fleet 15-6 in their AAF debut.
“I felt really good. I think we did a great job on offense,” Woodside said. “A couple of the drives stalled out a little bit. I wish we could have had those points in the red zone. But overall I feel good.”
Woodside completed some key passes in the game. He hit Mekale McKay for a 22-yard completion and Greg Ward Jr. with a 37-yard completion.
His biggest play of the night was a 46-yard pass to Alonzo Moore on the last play of the third quarter. That set up a 3-yard scoring run by Kenneth Farrow II for the only touchdown of the game.
“They did a great job,” Woodside said of the Commanders receivers. “They were in the right spots at the right times and made the big plays when we needed to. I went back and watched Greg’s catch. I didn’t know it was that great of a catch until I went back and saw it on Twitter. Just an unbelievable play and all around the guys did a really good job.”
Woodside also survived some tough moments in the game. He was sacked three times and had an interception in the red zone that cost the Commanders points.
“I thought Logan played well,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “I thought he made a lot of big plays. I’m sure that just like almost every quarterback in every game would like to have a couple of plays back.
“But I thought he competed really well and, like I said, he made some big plays – made some big plays in the end that were the difference maker.”
San Antonio Commanders fans got a first real look at their new team under the bright lights on Saturday night at the Alamodome.
The season opener also gave the organization its first taste of being the hometown team.
From booing the visitors when the San Diego Fleet took the field, to getting loud when the Fleet had a third down, to doing the wave early in the second half, 27,857 San Antonio fans proved they were ready for some football.
“We were excited to play and to win,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said. “My first impression I had walking out there is just how proud I am of San Antonio and about the Alliance being here and what our leadership has done.
“It just was a good scene and felt good. I knew this city would stand up and do a good job. It was really fun to play in front of them.”
The San Antonio Commanders scored four times in their season opener, but it was their defense that took command.
The Commanders beat the San Diego Fleet 15-6 on Saturday at the Alamodome.
The San Antonio secondary came up with three interceptions and the Commanders’ defensive front kept the heat on Fleet quarterbacks all night.
Commanders defensive back Orion Stewart made the key play of the first half, an interception and 68-yard return that set up San Antonio’s second field goal.
The Commanders’ De’Vante Bausby made an interception and 19-yard return late in the third quarter that set up the only touchdown of the game. Kenneth Farrow II scored on a 3-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Commanders a 12-6 lead.
The San Antonio defense, in addition to coming up with turnovers, also sacked Fleet starting quarterback Mike Bercovici six times.
Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside completed 18-of-36 passes for 255 yards and no touchdowns. He was sacked twice and threw two interceptions.
Commanders kicker Nick Rose made field goals of 29, 23 and 28 yards.
A loud crowd of 27,857 fans also made its presence known in the debut of the Alliance of American Football.
It’s finally closing in on game day for former Calallen and West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan, who arrived in San Antonio in mid-December for Commanders mini-camp.
He and 74 teammates returned to town in the beginning of January for training camp.
At long last it’s game week for Vaughan and the rest of the players on the Commanders’ 52-man regular-season roster. The Commanders open the season Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet.
“I feel like we’re definitely preparing for it like we’re supposed to,” Vaughan said. “We’ve got a whole week here to get prepared, but we’re ready to start playing games. I know everyone is excited about this upcoming game on Saturday. We’re using this week to prepare for that and we’re definitely ready.
“It feels good just as a player because you can focus on game preparation, you’re not necessarily worried about am I going to make it, am I not going to make it. Getting through that point in time, obviously that point in time is important, and training camp and preparation of the installs of the offense and defense and that sort of thing.”
Because it is the first season of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), and because the Commanders will be in their first game, some details haven’t been settled. As of the end of Tuesday’s practice at Central Catholic High School, the team hadn’t publicly released a depth chart. Commanders coach Mike Riley hadn’t officially named a starting quarterback between Vaughan, Marquise Williams and Logan Woodside.
“We have a good idea how we’re going to do it,” Riley said. “We have let these guys play with even turns all the way through and I expect all these guys to be ready to play. Then we’ll see exactly how that will work as the season goes.”
For the moment, Vaughan and the Commanders have shifted their primary focus from just learning the team’s system and making the team to getting ready for the Fleet.
“This is game preparation. We’re actually preparing to play against another opponent as part of a regular season,” Vaughan said. “It feels good to be out here preparing with the 51 other guys that we’ve got on this team.”
San Antonio Commanders report the following players did not participate in practice today:
RB Trey Williams (Foot)
CB Jordan Thomas (Thigh)
S Derron Smith (Foot)
San Diego Fleet report the following players were limited in practice today:
41 Travis Feeney (Elbow)
28 Curtis Mikell (Ankle)
81 Nelson Spruce (Calf)