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.

Marquise Williams rallies Commanders past Stallions

Commanders running back Trey Williams scores the go-ahead touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Marquise Williams with 5:25 left in the game. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders running back Trey Williams scores the go-ahead touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Marquise Williams with 5:25 left in the game. – photo by Joe Alexander
When the San Antonio Commanders needed the cavalry to ride to their rescue, Marquise Williams answered the call.

The Commanders’ backup quarterback entered the game in the fourth quarter and drove the team to the go-ahead touchdown on a 36-yard pass to running back Trey Williams. That broke a 9-9 tie.

Marquise Williams passed to Greg Ward Jr. for the two-point conversion to extend the Commanders’ lead to 17-9 with 5:25 left in the game.

The Commanders (5-2) finished with a 19-15 victory and extended their win streak to four in their first game in the Alamodome after a month on the road. A season high 30,345 fans gave the Commanders their loud support.

  • De’Vante Bausby’s interception wraps up victory
  • Pregame scene at the Alamodome
  • Rock concert crowd breaks out at Commanders game

    Even after the late touchdown, the Commanders still needed a key play on defense to wrap up the win. The Stallions scored a late touchdown and had a chance to tie the game with the two-point conversion. But on the conversion play, Commanders defensive back and turnover machine De’Vante Bausby intercepted a pass and returned it the distance the other way – not only keeping the Stallions from adding two points, but giving the Commanders two points when he crossed the goal line.

    Logan Woodside started at quarterback for the Commanders and played most of the game. Marquise Williams came in to start the touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. He immediately gave the offense a spark with his running. The touchdown to Trey Williams was a short dumpoff that Trey broke for the touchdown.

    The Williams-to-Williams touchdown was the first time the Commanders scored in the second half.

    The Commanders led 9-6 at halftime. The Stallions tied it 9-9 with a field goal in the third quarter.

    The Commanders took their halftime lead on a Nick Rose 23-yard field goal with five second left in the second quarter. The Commanders had gotten to the 1-yard line on a drive that included three big penalties on the Stallions – one a roughing the passer penalty that wiped out a Stallions interception.

    The Commanders’ Duke Thomas had a key interception when the Stallions were driving. The score was tied 6-6 at the time, so Thomas’ pick kept Salt Lake from grabbing the lead.

    The Stallions moved the ball on the opening possession of the game and kicked a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

    The Commanders went in front 6-3 when Woodside hit Mekale McKay for a 21-yard touchdown pass.

    The Stallions’ second field goal tied it 6-6.

  • 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.

    Commanders working on their passing game at practice: photo gallery

    Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside at practice Thursday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepared for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Legends. - photo by Joe Alexander
    Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside at practice Thursday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Legends. – photo by Joe Alexander
    San Antonio Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside is currently No. 3 in the AAF in passing yards with 1,025 after five games – one yard behind No. 2 John Wolford of the Arizona Hotshots. The Orlando Apollos’ Garrett Gilbert is No. 1 at 1,357.

    The Commanders’ Mekale McKay is No. 3 in the league in receiving yards at 317. Alonzo Moore is second on the team in receiving yards with 178 and De’Marcus Ayers is third with 165.

    The Commanders are coming off a 29-25 road victory over the Arizona Hotshots that saw Woodside pass for 290 yards and two touchdown and earn AAF offensive player of the week honors.

    “We had a good game plan going in,” Woodside said. “The receivers made plays. I think we’re just clicking as an offense in general. We stalled out some drives in the third quarter, which you can’t have three-and-outs. But the defense did a great job starting out, especially with Derron (Smith) on the pick six to start the game.

    “We’ve just got to continue to get better. I think that as we continue to get to know each other, the more that we’re with each other, we going to continue to get better. We’ve just got to continue to work hard throughout the week and prepare because ultimately that’s the only way you can go have success.”

    Fleet hand Commanders second straight loss

    Video from Twitter via @aafcommanders

    The San Antonio opened their first road game of the season with two big plays – a turnover by the defense and a long touchdown pass by the offense.

    The rest of the night belonged to the San Diego Fleet.

    The Fleet outscored the Commanders by four touchdowns after the opening seconds of the game to beat San Antonio 31-11 on Sunday night in San Diego.

    The Commanders have lost two straight since beating the Fleet in the season opener in the Alamodome. The Commanders play their next three games on the road against the Birmingham Iron (3-0), Arizona Hotshots (2-1) and Atlanta Legends (0-3).

    “It’s still early. It’s only Week 3,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We’ve got to continue to get better on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Those are huge days for us. Then when we come out and play just try to execute to the best of our ability.

    “Obviously against a team like San Diego you don’t want to have turnovers and penalties. Thinking back to the first quarter, we had a touchdown pass called back. We could have been up 16-0. I don’t think we ever recovered from that.”

    The night had a promising start for the Commanders.

    On the very first play of the game, Commanders defensive back De’Vante Bausby intercepted a pass and returned it 18 yards. The next snap, the Commanders’ first offensive play, Woodside hit Mekale McKay for a 47-yard touchdown. Woodside passed to Evan Rodriguez for the two-point conversion and the Commanders led 8-0.

    But the early magic faded into the Southern California night.

    What looked like it was going to be the Commanders’ second touchdown came on a 14-yard pass to Greg Ward Jr. that was wiped out on a holding penalty.

    For the game, Woodside passed for 151 yards – meaning he only passed for 104 yards after his first throw. He was 12-of-23 with the one touchdown and threw two interceptions. He was also sacked three times.

    “They have a really good defensive line,” Woodside said. “They did a great job all night. Some of that’s on me. They made it tough. They were coming hard all four quarters.”

    For the second week in a row, Woodside threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Fleet linebacker AJ Tarpley returned an interception 27 yards for a score.

    Fleet quarterback Philip Nelson, who came in off the bench when these teams met in the season opener, passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He stayed free of interceptions after the first play of the game.

    The Fleet also got 122 yards rushing from Ja’Quan Gardner. He helped put the game out of reach with a league-record 83-yard touchdown run.

    “We’re obviously disappointed with the outcome of the game tonight,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “We had real high expectations coming in and expected a good game and had an interesting start to the whole game.

    “The turnover touchdown and the big play later on in the second half were major, major parts of the game.”

    Video from Twitter via @aafcommanders

    Commanders vs. Fleet final play: photo gallery

    San Antonio's Mekale McKay (right) and Derron Smith celebrate after the Commanders stopped the San Diego Fleet on the final play of the season opener on Saturday at the Alamodome. - photo by Joe Alexander
    San Antonio’s Mekale McKay (right) and Derron Smith celebrate after the Commanders stopped the San Diego Fleet on the final play of the season opener on Saturday at the Alamodome. – photo by Joe Alexander
    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.

    McKay makes big catch at end of Commanders’ first regular-season practice

    Commanders receiver Mekale McKay (right) celebrates an end zone catch at practice Thursday at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
    Commanders receiver Mekale McKay (right) celebrates an end zone catch at practice Thursday at Central Catholic High School. – photo by Joe Alexander
    The San Antonio Commanders were back on the practice field Thursday with 23 fewer players than the last time the public was allowed to watch them.

    It was the first practice after the cutdown from a 75-man training camp roster to a 52-man regular-season roster.

    The Commanders wound down practice with “the last play of the game.”

    Mekale McKay, a wide receiver from the University of Cincinnati, earned a spot on the regular-season roster by making great catches throughout training camp. On Thursday, he made a memorable “last play” with another great catch in the end zone.

    Wide receiver Mekale McKay at Commanders training camp

    Mekale McKay, a wide receiver from the University of Cincinnati, at San Antonio Commanders training camp. - photo by Joe Alexander
    Mekale McKay, a wide receiver from the University of Cincinnati, at San Antonio Commanders training camp. – photo by Joe Alexander
    Mekale McKay spent the fall of 2018 without playing professional football. It was a long fall.

    Now, as a member of the San Antonio Commanders, he is just over two weeks away from the Alliance of American Football (AAF) season opener on Feb. 9 at the Alamodome.

    “Every morning I wake up and the days are counting down,” McKay said. “It’s very exciting. You can feel it in practice. Everything is coming together.”

    The 6-foot-3, 204-pound receiver stands out in practice with his size and speed. In three seasons (2013-2015) at the University of Cincinnati, he caught 85 passes for 1,704 yards and 17 touchdowns. He played his freshman season in 2012 at Arkansas.

    In addition to playing football, McKay was an honorable mention all-state basketball player his senior season in high school in Kentucky.

    Although he had a reputation coming out of college for not having good hands, he has been a reliable pass catcher in the Commanders training camp.

    McKay feels like he is making a good connection with the team’s quarterbacks.

    “We’ve got quarterbacks who can throw it,” McKay said. “We’re making plays for them so I think we’re going to do a really good job.”

    At just past the midpoint of training camp, McKay and his teammates got a change of scenery on Tuesday when they held a joint practice with the Atlanta Legends. It was a way for the Commanders to measure themselves with very little time left before the season starts.

    “We’re almost there. We’ve got a lot of improving to do,” McKay said. “That was a good scale to see where we were against somebody else but we’re still focused on us. We’re focused on winning and getting the job done here.”

    McKay’s U. of Cincinnati bio page
    gobearcats.com

    NFL combine bio page
    nfl.com

    Commanders a blessing for Andrew McDonald

    San Antonio Commanders offensive lineman Andrew McDonald is back in pro football for the first time since being cut by the Houston Texans in 2016. - photo by Joe Alexander
    San Antonio Commanders offensive lineman Andrew McDonald is back in pro football for the first time since being cut by the Houston Texans in 2016. – photo by Joe Alexander
    Andrew McDonald’s pro football record shows more teams than games played. From 2012 to 2016 he was signed by the Dolphins, Panthers, Seahawks, Colts, Browns, Chargers and Texans. During that stretch his only playing time came in two games with Seattle in 2014.

    Houston cut McDonald in 2016 and he hasn’t been on a roster since.

    But that’s just the football part of his life. He was diagnosed with cancer – and beat it. He spent two years and ministry school in Indiana and might go back and finish that when his football career is over for good.

    For the moment, McDonald’s life is focused on football again, specifically on San Antonio Commanders training camp.

    “First week goes by quick,” said McDonald, a 6-foot-5, 314-pound offensive lineman. “Man, it’s so good to get back into it. It’s been awhile. Two years since I’ve been back. But man so good.

    “All the camaraderie of the teammates, actually putting on pads, hitting people. It’s a good feeling. I feel like we’ve really bonded together.”

    McDonald started every game at left tackle for Indiana University his junior and senior seasons – 2010 and 2011.

    With the Commanders, he is currently seeing more time right tackle but also working some at the other positions on the offensive line. As part of a new team, he is part of a group that is trying to come together quickly.

    “Everybody is new so we’ve all got to really learn each other, find what kind of people we are,” McDonald said. “You’ve got to be able to trust the teammate next to you, especially offensive line.

    “It’s working out. Everybody here on the offensive line, I love them. We’re a pretty tight knit group. Obviously you’ve got to take steps, but it’s coming along pretty well.”

    McDonald’s college bio page:
    iuhoosiers.com

    McDonald comes back from cancer:
    indystar.com

    Jason Minnix of ESPN San Antonio, who will handle radio play-by-play of Commanders games, checks out an official AAF ball. - photo by Joe Alexander
    Jason Minnix of ESPN San Antonio, who will handle radio play-by-play of Commanders games, checks out an official AAF ball.
    Training camp report: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019

    It was a sunny day in the low 60s. Players were in full pads.

    There is no practice scheduled Friday – the first day off since training camp workouts started Saturday.

    Photo gallery: today’s catches

    Wide receiver drills at Commanders’ mini-camp

    San Antonio Commanders wide receivers go through drills at mini-camp in December at Incarnate Word's Benson Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander
    San Antonio Commanders wide receivers go through drills at mini-camp in December at Incarnate Word’s Benson Stadium.

    The Commanders open the inaugural Alliance of American Football (AAF) season on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at home at the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet.