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The Atlanta Legends (1-3) defeated the Arizona Hotshots (3-2) 14-11 yesterday behind a great defensive performance and stellar play from their backup quarterback, Aaron Murray.
Murray finished the game going 20/33 for 254 yards passing and also had 54 yards rushing. Arizona struggled on offense for most of the game but was able to run the ball successfully behind, Jhurrell Pressley, who had 14 carries for 110 yards.
The Legends came out with a strong first drive that looked promising as they moved the ball up and down the field but ended abruptly as Atlanta’s quarterback, Matt Simms was crushed by a Hotshot defensive lineman and fumbled. The fumble was recovered by the Hotshots who were not able to take advantage of the turnover.
Simms injured his right hand on the sack and fumble and Murray entered the game for the Legends. Murray lead the Legends down the field but Atlanta failed to score points again while in the red zone as they were stuffed at the goal line on 4th and goal. Murray was a bright spot during the drive, going 3 for 5 for 52 yards.
Later in the first quarter, Arizona had possession deep in their own territory where the Hotshots ran a quick screen to Rashad Ross. Ross had nowhere to go and went backwards trying to find room. He was tackled by Ed Reynolds in the endzone for a loss of seven yards and a safety.
The first quarter came to an end with the Atlanta Legends leading the Arizona Hotshots, 2-0. The Hotshots struggled to move the ball as their lone bright spot was running back, Pressley, who had 5 carries for 35 yards.
To start the second quarter, the Legends marched down the field again and again it led to zero points. They attempted a fake field goal rush attempt on 4th and goal. The play failed miserably and was a loss of 10 yards.
On the following drive Arizona failed to move the ball once again.
Atlanta moved the ball down the field once again on a 10 play, 86-yard drive and finally got into the end zone on a option run play where Murray tossed the ball to Denard Robinson for a 9-yard touchdown run. This put Atlanta up 8-0 over Arizona. The two conversion attempt was no good.
To end the 1st half, Arizona put together a drive where John Wolfard was able to led a two minute drill and get three points on the board with a 39-yard field goal by Nick Folk. Atlanta led at halftime 8-3. Murray was the star of the first half as he went 12/18 for 179 yards and also had 35 yards rushing. John Wolford went 8/16 for 74 yards for the Hotshots in the first two quarters.
To start the second half both teams went back and forth with unimpressive drives.
The third quarter was dominated by the defenses as Atlanta finally drove down the field and got into the red zone to start the fourth quarter.
The Legends’ drive stalled again the red zone but they did take the field goal on this occasion. Atlanta was up 11-3 with 13:34 left in the game.
The Hotshots responded with a drive where they were able to move the ball down the field but missed the 40-yard field goal attempt. The Legends were up 11-3 with 8:54 left in the game.
Arizona’s offense finally found a spark as they were able to score a touchdown later in the fourth quarter behind a touchdown pass from Wolford to Ross and they converted the two point conversion. The score was tied at 11-11.
Murray was able to lead a last minute drive for the Legends that led to a field goal with just over a minute left in the game. “It was fun. I feel like there’s a lot more to learn, a lot more for me to develop,” stated Murray.
If Simms misses extensive time, Atlanta will need that kind of attitude from Murray.