– Isaac Simpson (@Isaac_Rivals)
The Memphis Express traveled to take on the Birmingham Iron to kick off their inaugural campaign. In front of a raucous & enthusiastic crowd Memphis struggled mightily on the offensive side of the football. It was a tough day for QB Christian Hackenburg who won the starting job out of camp. He dealt with pressure in his face all day and couldn’t find any consistency in the passing game. He went 10-23 for 87yds and a pick on the afternoon. On several occasions when he was able to get the ball out cleanly he just simply overthrew what appeared to be wide open receivers. The only bright spot on the Express offense was my team preseason offensive player of the year pick veteran Zac Stacy who rushed 12 times for 58yds.
On the defensive side of the ball the Express played pretty well which you’d expect from a Singletary coached team forcing 2 turnovers and holding the Iron offense to FGs on three different occasions in the first half after promising drives. What a day for Express LB DeMarquis Gates who forced 2 fumbles and had 10 total tackles on the day. Defensive end Anthony Johnson had a nice afternoon as well with 5 tackles and a sack and was able to get pressure in the face of Iron QB Luis Perez on several occasions. DB Channing Stribling led the Memphis secondary with 5 tackles with one being for loss.
In the end, not being able to sustain drives on offense was the undoing of the Express defense as they wore down late in the game as Iron RB Trent Richardson really controlled the game down the stretch as he finished with 23 carries for 58yds and 2 touchdowns and Birmingham won it going away 26-0.
It won’t get any easier for Memphis as they come home for their home opener this coming Saturday night 7pm at the Liberty Bowl (Broadcasted by NFLN) to take on the (1-0) Arizona HotShots who looked impressive, especially offensively in their 38-22 home win over the Salt Lake Stallions. The Express are the only team in the AAF yet to put any points on the board. We hope that changes quickly this weekend.