By Tom Alexander / The Alliance
ORLANDO, Fla. — The first night. As Orlando Apollos head coach Steve Spurrier has been so fond of saying in the week leading up to his team’s inaugural game against the Atlanta Legends, he didn’t know what he was going to get from his team until they played a game.
It seems like he got what he wanted. After a couple of early drives where the Apollos’ offense felt out of sync, the team settled into a rhythm and poured it on. Apollos wide receiver Jalin Marshall caught the first touchdown in the history of The Alliance of American Football, a 26-yard rocket from Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert in traffic. The catch was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but Spurrier challenged the call and won.
Later, the Head Ball Coach showed he hasn’t lost his ability to call plays after spending a few years away from coaching, when he dialed up a trick play on Atlanta’s 5-yard-line. Gilbert handed the ball to running back Akeem Hunt on what looked like a sweep play. Hunt then handed it off to Marshall as if it were a reverse, but Marshall pulled up and threw a touchdown pass to a wide open Gilbert in the right side of the end zone.
Orlando’s defense took over in the second half, stopping Atlanta’s offense at every turn. Apollos defensive end Ryan Davis, Sr., a Tampa native who played college football at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach (not far from Orlando), got the first sack in franchise history, opening the floodgates for the Apollos’ front seven.
Orlando sacked Atlanta’s quarterbacks three times and forced three interceptions, two of which went to Apollos linebacker Terence Garvin. Later in the game, Garvin grabbed a second interception in the fourth quarter, which he ran back 51 yards for a touchdown.
Most important, in a night of firsts, the Apollos grabbed their first win. Apollos 40, Legends 6.
The Orlando Apollos head to San Antonio next week to face the San Antonio Commanders at the Alamodome.
Tom Alexander covers the Orlando Apollos for The Alliance of American Football. Follow him on Twitter @TheTomAlexander.