Atlanta played angry. After three disappointing loses in a row, the Firebirds bounced back with a 40-13 thrashing of the Mississippi Cottonmouths.
“I wish we hadn’t put ourselves in a position to need a game like this, but I’m proud of the way the boys responded,” said Coach Rob Ryan. “I just hope we can bottle this up and do it again next week.”
The game was a blast from the past as the Firebirds paid homage to Atlanta’s previous SFL franchise, the Fangs, with throwback uniforms. The OG snakes dealt out an old-school beatdown to the league’s newest reptiles.
The early stages were even with the lone first-quarter points coming on a 42-yard Wil Lutz field goal. Mississippi took the lead early in the second quarter before Atlanta exploded with a trio of touchdowns. Matt Barkley hit Cameron Meredith from eight yards out to take the lead and Nick O’Leary from 14 yards to extend the advantage. Matt Breida continued the second quarter explosion with a 9-yard run as the Firebirds held a commanding 24-7 halftime lead.
Mississippi got back on the board in the third, but it would be the last they saw the end zone. A 50-yard Lutz field goal made it 27-13 heading into the final frame.
Barkley tossed his third touchdown of the night, finding Derrick Griffin from six yards out. Lutz hit two more field goals to seal the 40-13 rout.
Barkley finished 23 of 35 for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Breida ran for 79 yards and a score on 19 carries. Chris Warren added 70 yards on 11 attempts.
O’Leary had a big night, catching 9 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Meredith added 5 catches for 55 yards and a score.
Grady Jarrett, Aldon Smith, and Danielle Hunter each notched a sack, and Will Parks added an interception.
The win gets the Firebirds back to .500 at 5-5. They try to climb back onto the positive side of the ledger this week when they host the 9-1 Birmingham Predators.