BALTIMORE, MD — The Baltimore Brigade (2-1) beat the Albany Empire (0-2), 52-49, Saturday afternoon at Royal Farms Arena. Brigade quarterback Randy Hippeard was named the game’s MVP for his seven-touchdown performance. Defensive back Virgil Gray led the Brigade defense with 10 tackles and one interception and was named Defensive Player of the Game.
“It feels good to win,” Brigade Head Coach Omarr Smith said after the game. “It’s hard to win football games against teams with good coaches and a good quarterback. We had to overcome some adversity. We made plays when we needed to and the defense caused a crucial turnover at the end of the game. It was a hard-fought win.”
The Brigade got on the board first when Hippeard found wide receiver Milton Williams, giving Baltimore a 7-0 advantage just two minutes into the game. The Empire answered with a touchdown pass from quarterback Tommy Grady to newly signed wide receiver Joe Hills, tying the game at seven. The Brigade took a 21-7 lead after consecutive second-quarter touchdown passes from Hippeard. Albany responded with a two-touchdown run of their own – passes from Grady to Hills and fellow wideout Collin Taylor – tying the game at 21. The team’s traded scores in the final minute of the first half before Brigade kicker Mark Lewis hit a field goal as time expired to give Baltimore a 31-28 lead after two quarters.
Baltimore and Albany traded touchdowns over the course of the second half. Taylor found the end zone again, this time on the ground, to start the second half scoring and give Albany a 35-31 lead. Hippeard threw his fifth touchdown of the game midway through the third quarter, re-taking the lead for Baltimore, 38-35. A 42-yard strike from Grady to wideout Malachi Jones put the Empire back on top. Hippeard found Williams for the second time, giving Baltimore a lead before Grady connected with Joe Hills for the fourth time, putting Albany back on top, 49-45. Hippeard tossed his seventh touchdown of the game with just over four minutes remaining, finding wideout Quentin Sims for the second time and giving the Brigade a 52-49 lead. The Brigade defense forced and recovered a fumble in the final minute to solidify the win.
MVP: BAL QB Randy Hippeard – seven passing touchdowns
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: ALB WR Joe Hills – four receiving touchdowns
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: BAL DB Virgil Gray – 10 tackles, one interception
The Brigade are back in action next Friday, May 4, taking on the defending-champion Philadelphia Soul at 7 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena. The game will be broadcast live on Monumental Sports Network, AFL Now and Facebook Watch.