It was a beautiful afternoon under the roof of the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday. The Spring Football League chose to buck the trend across the country of canceling their season, and chose instead to listen to local ordinances, meaning that for the first time in league history, most games were played without fans in the stands, and that was no different in San Antonio.
In front of no one but themselves, the Atlanta Firebirds came to town in what many thought would be a matchup of two of the best teams in the Empire Conference. Many speculated that the game would be a low scoring affair, featuring two of the best defenses in the league.
That wasn’t the case, at least, for the most part.
The Marshalls came out full throttle with first half touchdowns from RB Aaron Jones and QB Bo Levi Mitchell on the ground, as well as a pair of touchdown passes from Mitchell to Dez Bryant and Rashad Greene. Mitchell, not known in the least bit as a scrambler, pulled the ball down during a bootleg and took off down the sideline 48 yards for a score.
“I think we completely shocked Coach Ryan.” said QB Bo Levi Mitchell; “We came out and just struck back to back to back. I know that their game plan was probably to come out and pound the ball, control the clock, and depend on their defense to back them up, but we kinda took them out of that plan from the start, and our defense really held them in check.”
The Marshall defense did in fact keep the Firebirds in check, pitching a shut out in the first half of the game, and holding Atlanta to just 17 points in the second half, a half that would see Atlanta air out the football, playing from behind.
The Marshalls controlled the clock, holding the ball for over 32 minutes. The offense would put up over 400 yards of total offense, 220 yards on the ground, and held Atlanta to just 171 total yards.
The defense posted four sacks, two coming from longtime Marshall, DE Alex Okafor. CB Tre Flowers had a helluva afternoon, leading the team in tackles, sacking Firebird QB Nick Arbuckle, as well as intercepting an Arbuckle pass.
“We came into this game with the mindset that Atlanta was the team to beat, that Atlanta would be the toughest competitor we’d face this year, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Our guys played hard, they played tough, and they played smart.” said Head Coach Bob Stoops.
The Marshalls will get back to work on Monday to prepare for their trip to Mississippi, the Marshalls will face Vad Lee and the Gators in Jackson, Mississippi this weekend.