By Steven Weldon
Big week for the AAF. Two games finished down to the wire, and two franchises are headed opposite directions. Let's take a look at how the week shook out.
ORLANDO APOLLOS 31, BIRMINGHAM IRON 14
This was meant to be a great game, but it ends up only proving how incredible this Apollos team is. The Iron defense is staunch, but Orlando saw right through it. Garrett Gilbert had another outstanding game under center, and De'Veon Smith broke out for 119 rushing yards. The Iron threatened late in the third quarter, but the Apollos buried them in the fourth. Meanwhile, it seems Trent Richardson has regressed to the performances that sent him out of the NFL. His pedestrian 8 carries for 21 yards was improved by his 8th touchdown of the season, but it's still 2.6 yards per carry. Not ideal.
Star of the game: Garrett Gilbert, 23/35, 286 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Gilbert has not thrown an interception the entire season, and is the main catalyst for this awesome offense.
SAN DIEGO FLEET 27, SALT LAKE STALLIONS 25
What a game. The offenses were slightly asleep, so the defenses took over. Within a span of 10 game minutes between the third and fourth quarter, the Fleet managed a fumble recovery touchdown and interception return for a touchdown. Sitting in full control, the Fleet let off of the gas pedal and the Stallions..mounted..a comeback. Joel Bouagnon punched in a rushing touchdown in the middle of the quarter, and with 51 seconds left Nick Truesdell stretched the ball just over the goal-line plane to score, making it 23-24. After a cross-field pass secured the two-point conversion, the Fleet had less than a minute to get into field goal range. They did exactly that, setting up for a 44-yard field goal made by San Diego State product Donny Hageman.
Star of the game: Kameron Kelly, 5 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown.
Kelly was all over the field, and his INT TD was a catalyst in getting the Fleet a large lead.
ATLANTA LEGENDS 23, MEMPHIS EXPRESS 20
Break up the Legends! Aaron Murray has this team ready to improve the second half of the season. While Memphis had control of the game until the fourth quarter, with 11:50 left Murray connected with Taurean Folston for his first passing touchdown of the day. With the Express threatening with less than four minutes left, Tyson Graham took a tipped pass and intercepted the ball. Meanwhile, Folston continued his great play, rushing the ball further inside of the target field goal line and wasting the clock down. Younghoe Koo would drain the game-winning field goal with nine seconds on the clock, and Atlanta found a way to win again.
Star of the game: Taurean Folston, 11 carries, 83 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 6 receptions, 23 yards, 1 receiving touchdown.
Folston scored the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion. He was Aaron Murray's checkdown and touchdown machine.
SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS 29, ARIZONA HOTSHOTS 25
This game was all Commanders in the first half, as the Hotshots seemed to continue their backward slide into the second half of the season. John Wolford threw two interceptions, one going for a Commanders touchdown. The Hotshots' defense allowed big play after big play, leading to a 26-point hole. You have to credit them though, Arizona had a heady comeback. San Antonio scored for the final time on a field goal midway through the fourth quarter, but Wolford shook off his bad start, passing for two touchdowns and converting the 4th and 12 onside-replacement to continue their comeback. However, after a rushing touchdown by the Hotshots, they could not replicate their onside conversion from earlier, and Wolford was sacked. The Commanders did not bring their best play to the second half, and they'll have to figure out how to improve that aspect for their next game.
Star of the game: Logan Woodside, 21/27, 290 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception.
I almost gave this award to John Wolford for his second-half comeback, but without Woodside's first-half play, they would not have been in position to win.
AAF POWER RANKINGS WEEK 5
1. ORLANDO APOLLOS (5-0)
The Apollos return home next weekend to take on the reeling Hotshots, looking to continue their hot streak. I don't think anyone is challenging them any time soon.
2. SAN DIEGO FLEET (3-2)
The Fleet are a talented team, and it does help they are undefeated at home. There's more home cookin' ready, as the cold Birmingham Iron roll into town next week.
3. SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS (3-2)
Not a nice second half this past weekend, but while the old saying is "It's not how you start, it's how you finish", the Commanders finish involved a clutch defensive stand. They do get a challenge this coming week, heading to Atlanta to face the suddenly talented Legends.
4. ATLANTA LEGENDS (2-3)
Yes, they are one of the best teams in the league. Aaron Murray is the breath of fresh air that this team needed. They can check off a huge question mark if they can take down the Commanders next weekend.
5. ARIZONA HOTSHOTS (2-3)
The Hotshots have the second-best quarterback in the league and are still a threat in the western conference. Their comebacks falling short will not last forever, but it may be delayed for a week, as they face the Apollos next weekend.
6. BIRMINGHAM IRON (3-2)
These guys can only score if Trent Richardson is six and a half feet away from the goal-line. Things don't get easier for the reeling Iron, as they head to San Diego in the final game of the weekend.
7. MEMPHIS EXPRESS (1-4)
I only put the Express above the Stallions because they have a better running game. They play each other in the first game of next weekends' games, in which we will find out who is the best of the worst.
8. SALT LAKE STALLIONS (1-4)
I'll move the Stallions up if they beat the Express next weekend. They looked good, but a pourous defense was their demise.
Catch the AAF on Bleacher Report Live, NFL Network and CBS Sports Network next Saturday and Sunday.