The Firebirds won’t go down without a fight. Clinging to the tail end of the playoff chase, Atlanta stayed in the chase with a resounding 44-14 road win against the Philadelphia Bulldogs this week.
“I couldn’t ask for a better performance out of my boys,” said Atlanta Coach Rob Ryan. “We went out and executed in every phase of the game. We pretty much busted them in the mouth.”
Philadelphia scored a touchdown on their opening possession, but it would be all Atlanta from there as the Firebirds scored 30 unanswered points. Mike Tolbert started it with a one-yard plunge in the first quarter before a 23-point explosion in the second quarter. Matt Barkley connected with Cameron Meredith on a 6-yard touchdown, Tolbert scored on his second one-yard run, Wil Lutz hit a 25-yard field, and Barkley found Robert Davis from four yards out as the Firebirds held a commanding 30-7 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs broke the drought with a touchdown midway through the third quarter, but Atlanta responded to put the game out of reach. Tolbert scored his third one-yard touchdown run of the night to close out the third, and Barkley hit Meredith from 17 yards out to ice the rout.
Barkley was a sterling 22 of 31 for 322 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tolbert exploded for 152 yards and 3 scores on 22 carries.
“Hot damn I love it when Mike gets rolling,” said Ryan. “That sumbitch is so low to the ground, it’s like trying to tackle a tank.”
Matt Breida added 63 yards on 11 attempts.
Meredith hauled in 9 catches for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davis added 6 catches for 83 yards and a score.
Brandon Boykin led the defense with 6 tackles and an interception. Nick Marshall also picked off a pass.
With minimal margin for error, the 7-6 Firebirds return home this week to host the 9-4 New York Marauders.