Commanders fall to Hotshots – photo gallery part 2

Commanders cornerback Duke Thomas (21) breaks up a pass intended for Hotshots wide receiver Rashad Ross on Sunday at the Alamodome. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders cornerback Duke Thomas (21) breaks up a pass intended for Hotshots wide receiver Rashad Ross on Sunday at the Alamodome. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders’ four-game win streak ended Sunday with a home-field 23-6 loss to the Arizona Hotshots at the Alamodome.

The Commanders turn around with a short week. They play the Memphis Express on Saturday at 11 a.m. (Central) at the Alamodome. The Express are coming off a 34-31 loss to the Orlando Apollos.

Commanders offense vs. Stallions photo gallery

De'Marcus Ayers heads upfield after catching a pass against the Stallions on Saturday at the Alamodome. - photo by Joe Alexander
De’Marcus Ayers heads upfield after catching a pass against the Stallions on Saturday at the Alamodome. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders had to work hard for every yard on offense on Saturday against the Salt Lake Stallions.

In the end, the Commanders scored their second touchdown of the game with less than six minutes remaining in a 19-15 victory at the Alamodome.

The Commanders had 64 yards rushing. Almost a third of that, 19 yards, came from quarterback Marquise Williams off the bench in the fourth quarter. Trey Williams had 19 yards and David Cobb had 18.

The Commanders had 213 yards passing – 164 yards from Logan Woodside and 49 from Marquise Williams. Both quarterbacks threw one touchdown pass. Marquise Williams threw a 36-yard pass to Trey Williams for the winning touchdown.

Commanders wrap up road stretch with victory over Legends

image from Twitter.com @aafcommanders

Editor’s note: This story was updated Sunday night after the Birmingham Iron beat the San Diego Fleet 32-29

The San Antonio Commanders wrapped up the dreaded four-game road stretch of their schedule with their third straight victory and return home at the top of the standings.

The Commanders defense came up with a series of big plays for the second week in a row as they knocked off the Atlanta Legends 37-6 on Sunday at Georgia State Stadium.

The Commanders (4-2) went 3-1 on the road stretch of the schedule. They play at the Alamodome on Sunday at 7 p.m. (Central) against the Salt Lake Stallions (2-4). The Commanders have sole possession of first place in the AAF West. San Diego and Salt Lake are both 3-3.

“We just finished 3-1 on the road on a four-game road trip, which I think is pretty impressive for us,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We’ve got a chance to go back and play a really good Salt Lake team back in San Antonio. We’re excited about going back and playing in the Dome.”

Commanders defensive backs De’Vante Bausby, Zack Sanchez and Derron Smith all came up with interceptions. Smith had an interception return for a touchdown for a second straight week. Duke Thomas added a first-half fumble recovery.

The Commanders scored touchdowns after their first three takeaways.

“We’ve got some good players and they made plays today,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “They’re athletic and they’re savvy. Derron Smith is a very unique football player.
(Zack) Sanchez made another interception. Those guys, if you make a mistake around them, they’re going to make you pay. They play with a lot of confidence.

“Getting turnovers is one thing. Being able to capitalize with points, that was really the game today. We got the ball in some good situations for our offense. We did take advantage of it and made it count got a good early lead because of it.”

Greg Ward Jr. gave the Commanders a special teams score when he returned a punt for a league-record 79-yard touchdown. The Commanders’ offense did not have any turnovers.

“I was really proud of our team today,” Riley said. “I think we kind of stayed on top of it. It was fun to see basically all the parts of our team, offense, defense, and special teams all contribute to winning the game. It was definitely a team win, a team effort.”

Woodside completed 17 of 23 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

“I think it’s just another week with this offense and these guys,” said Woodside, who was the AAF offensive player of the week last week. “I just tried to take it personal to study more and try to do everything I can in practice to make myself better. Obviously with the defense we have it have makes it tough on us in practice. So it always good to to go against those guys every week.”

Wide receiver Mekale McKay and tight end Evan Rodriguez had the Commanders’ touchdown catches. Tight end Cam Clear led the team in receptions with five for 45 yards.

“What we hoped to do is run the ball OK. We didn’t really run the ball as well as we wanted to today,” Riley said. “But we ran. We like to run.

“Then we like to have play-action passes that go down the field. Then we need some ball-control passes. One of the best things about our game at least early in the game, we hit some consistent ball-control routes that got some first downs for us. We kept the ball for a long time in the first half.”

Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow scored the first touchdown of the game to make it 6-0 in the first quarter. That was set up by Thomas’ fumble recovery.

The Legends tried to get even on their next drive when they went for a deep pass. The Commanders’ Smith and Bausby were there to break it up.

Sanchez had his interception later in the first quarter. That set the stage for Woodside’s touchdown pass and two-point conversion pass both to McKay to make it 14-0. The Commanders kept that drive going when Woodside completed a fourth-down pass to Clear.

The Commanders defense came up with its third takeaway of the first half on Bausby’s interception. This time Woodside threw a touchdown pass to Evan Rodriguez and the Commanders led 20-0.

The Legends scored a touchdown late in the first half for what turned out to be their only points of the game.

Ward’s punt return for the touchdown extended the Commanders’ lead to 26-6 with 1:00 left in the half.

Nick Rose, who has not missed this season, kicked a field goal on the Commanders’ first possession of the second half to make it 29-6.

Both offenses were held in check the rest of the way. The final touchdown of the game came on Smith’s 87-yard interception return with 8:40 remaining.

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

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.”

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.

Kenneth Farrow II powers Commanders past Iron

Image via Twitter from @aafcommanders

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).

Images from Twitter.com
@aafcommanders

Farrow’s tough running gives Commanders first TD against Apollos

Kenneth Farrow II scored the Commanders' first touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run on Sunday against the Orlando Apollos. - photo by Joe Alexander
Kenneth Farrow II scored the Commanders’ first touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run on Sunday against the Orlando Apollos. – photo by Joe Alexander
Any football team loves to make a statement early in the game by running the ball successfully.

The Commanders did that on Sunday night on the legs of Kenneth Farrow II. The Commanders’ opening drive lasted 10 plays and went for 59 yards while burning almost six minutes off the clock.

Four of those first 10 plays were runs by Farrow. He carried the ball for 4 yards on the Commanders’ first offensive play. He also had carries of 8 and 6 yards on the drive before scoring.

Farrow pounded and then hurdled his way to a 15-yard touchdown run for the first points of the game with 5:57 left in the first quarter. Farrow hit the end zone head first and had to get some assistance before walking off the field.

Farrow returned to the game and led the Commanders in rushing with 74 yards on 13 carries (5.7 yards per carry). He also caught two passes for 25 yards.

Commanders’ running game powered by former Texas high school players

San Antonio Commanders running back Aaron Green played at Madison High School and TCU. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders running back Aaron Green played at Madison High School and TCU. – photo by Joe Alexander
Part of the plan for the Alliance of American Football is to give teams a regional flavor.

The San Antonio Commanders get plenty of that from their ball carriers. When the Commanders cut their 75-man training camp roster down to 52 for the regular season, the list of holdovers included all four running running backs from the state of Texas still on the roster.

“We like to be balanced. We want to be able to be able to run the ball,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said. “We feel like we have good runners. We have four guys who made the team, which is probably a little unusual. We felt like those were four of our best football players, so that’s the direction we went with them.”

All four of the running backs played high school football in the state: Aaron Green is from San Antonio and played in college at TCU, Kenneth Farrow II is from Hurst and played in college at Houston, David Cobb is from Killeen and played in college at Minnesota and Trey Williams is from Spring and played in college at Texas A&M.

“I think we’re all different in our way,” Green said. “I think we’re all extremely good. At any given moment any of us can take the ball to the house. Everybody in the backfield is pretty much a starter so it’s pretty much up to the coaches to look at our talent and give us roles.”

Green is also working with the punt return and punt coverage units.

“Anywhere they need me I can do it,” Green said. “Special teams is actually something I enjoy doing.”

His NFL game experience is two games seeing special teams action with the Rams in 2016.

Commanders GM Daryl Johnston on cuts, 52-man roster

Commanders GM Daryl Johnston discusses the roster cutdown to 52 players for the regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders GM Daryl Johnston discusses the roster cutdown to 52 players for the regular season. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston has lived through player cuts as a college and NFL player.

The former Dallas Cowboys fullback was on the other side of that on Wednesday when Alliance of American Football (AAF) teams announced their 52-man rosters, down from 75 in training camp.

“Today was one of the more challenging days I’ve been a part of,” Johnston said. “We started this journey several months ago. We’ve gone from 85 down into the 60s back up to 75 and now today we had to come down to 52. There were some really hard decisions we had to make. We think we picked a very competitive 52, but time will tell.

“They’re great guys. That was the thing that made it the hardest. We had good players but we had great guys.”

The Commanders kept three quarterbacks – Dustin Vaughan, Marquise Williams and Logan Woodside. The fourth quarterback in camp, former UTSA starter Dalton Sturm, did not make the 52-man roster. Johnston said the league recommends having three quarterbacks on the roster and AAF rules call for three quarterbacks to be suited up on game day. Vaughan finished training camp as the team’s No. 1 quarterback.

Johnston said some of the toughest roster decisions were at receiver, linebacker and running back. The receiver position was complicated by some players suffering injuries in training camp and a few players joining the team late in camp.

The decision at running back was influenced by how the team performed in practice games on Sunday and Monday.

“We were prepared to go in with three running backs,” Johnston said. “We saw how well we ran the football. We saw our physical the runners were. We decided four would be better. Then Trey Williams came up with a turf toe coming out of the game.

“Aaron Green did a great job on Monday night. I’m really impressed with him not only as a runner, but special teams is something that I don’t know how much of a part of his background that was, and he’s done a really good job of embracing special teams.”

Kenneth Farrow II, David Cobb, Green and Williams are the four running backs on the roster.

Update: I just heard from wide receiver Riley Smith, who is not on the 52-man roster. Smith said he is on the injured list and expects to be activated when he is fully healthy.