ALBANY, NY — The Baltimore Brigade (6-2) defeated the Albany Empire (5-3), 59-56, thanks to a game-winning field goal from kicker Mark Lewis with two seconds left in regulation. With the win, Baltimore takes over sole possession of first place in the Arena Football League. Brigade quarterback Randy Hippeard was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his eight-touchdown performance. Baltimore wide receiver Brandon Thompkins totaled 159 yards and three touchdowns on a career-high and Brigade-record 17 receptions and was named Offensive Player of the Game.
Albany got on the board first, capping a two-minute drive with a 10-yard pass from quarterback Tommy Grady to wideout Malachi Jones to give the Empire a 7-0 lead. After a defensive stop by each team, the Brigade tied the game at seven apiece on three-yard pass from Hippeard to wide receiver Quentin Sims. Consecutive Grady touchdown passes, both to wide receiver Joe Hills, gave the Empire a 21-7 lead with just under eight minutes left in the half. Baltimore answered on the ensuing drive, bringing the game back within one score before Grady threw his fourth touchdown of the night with 51 seconds left in the half, giving Albany a 28-14 lead. Baltimore wasted no time as Hippeard four Thompkins for a 14-yard score to cut the lead to 28-21. Newly signed wideout Demetres Stephens recovered the ensuing onside kickoff, setting the Brigade up with an opportunity to tie the game heading into halftime. Hippeard led the offense down the field in just 30 seconds, capping the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Sims, knotting the game up at 28.
Thompkins notched his second score of the game just under four minutes into the second half, giving Baltimore its first lead of the night, 35-28. Albany countered, tying the game at 35 just three minutes later on a Grady touchdown pass to wide receiver Collin Taylor. Hippeard’s fifth touchdown of the night – a 10-yarder to wideout Brandon Collins – gave the Brigade a 42-35 lead. Albany scored consecutive touchdowns to retake the lead, 49-42, with 10:47 left in the game. Baltimore answered quickly with another Hippeard-to-Thompkins connection, tying the game at 49, before a Josh Victorian interception of Grady set the Brigade up with an opportunity to take the lead. Minutes later, Hippeard tossed touchdown number eight, giving the Brigade a 56-49 lead with 4:22 left in the game. Hills tallied his fourth receiving touchdown of the night, tying the game at 56 just over two minutes left in the game. After a time-consuming Brigade possession, Lewis converted on the game-winning field goal with just two seconds left on the clock.
MVP: BAL QB Randy Hippeard – 29/37 passing, 270 yards and eight touchdowns
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: BAL WR Brandon Thompkins – 17 receptions, 159 yards and three touchdowns
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: ALB DB Brandon Stephens – 11.5 total tackles
The Brigade return to action on Friday, June 15, taking on the Washington Valor at 7 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena. The game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.