By Jaylon Thompson / The Alliance
ATLANTA – After a tough two-game road stretch, the Atlanta Legends return home in search of their first win of the season.
The Legends fell to 0-2 after falling to the San Diego Fleet 24-12 on Sunday night. The loss was disappointing, but offered some positive moments.
Receiver Malachi Jones rebounded in Week 2 with three catches and a 19-yard touchdown. Running back Akrum Wadley made his season debut against the Fleet and tallied 82 total yards from scrimmage.
Defensively, safety Tyson Graham Jr. and cornerback Carlos Merritt showcased their playmaking ability. Graham Jr. tied safety Ed Reynolds for the team lead with 10 tackles and Merritt stepped up with an early interception. Kicker Younghoe Koo has also been solid. He is 4-for-4 on the season and has paced the Legends in total points.
However, the Legends haven’t turned those positive results into wins.
In two games, the team has scored 18 points and battled inconsistencies across the board. Penalties and mistakes have also hurt the team’s ability to sustain leads.
“We got to be better,” Legends head coach Kevin Coyle said. “I got to do a better job in leading this team so that we can get it turned around. We have eight opportunities left and we will give it everything that we have to get it right and win games.”
In both games this season, the Legends got off to a hot start. They controlled the tempo and moved the ball down the field. As a result, the team came away with points on the opening drive.
Koo drilled a field goal in Week 1 against the Orlando Apollos. On Sunday, it was a Koo field goal and the Jones touchdown reception that gave the Legends a 9-0 first-quarter lead.
The successful drives built momentum. However, the issue has been sustaining that momentum throughout the game.
According to Coyle, it comes down to execution. The Legends aim to do a better job cutting down on penalties and scoring in the red zone.
“When you don’t score touchdowns, the game stays close on both sides,” Coyle said. “If we made those eight-point swings, the game changes dramatically. We got to do a better job at that. It was a big factor in tonight’s game.”
The Legends also had 10 penalties and it cost them 104 yards. The penalties allowed the Fleet to hang around and stay in the game. The Fleet took advantage and were able to notch two late touchdowns to win the game. There was a 15-yard penalty on the defense in each of those two scoring drives.
“We work really hard in practice to not let that stuff happen,” Coyle said. “It happened tonight, and we are determined to regroup from this loss.”
The Legends get back to work in preparation for the home opener against the Birmingham Iron. It offers an opportunity to get a win and put everything together in front of the home crowd.
“We are going to work hard and do everything we can to get a win against a conference opponent next week,” Coyle said.
The Legends face the Birmingham Iron in their home opener on February 24 at 4:00 p.m. ET at Georgia Stadium. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network. BUY TICKETS HERE.