Albany Firebirds Outlast Nashville Kats 32-24

In a chippy game, the Albany Firebirds defeated the Nashville Kats, 32-24, in Nashville, Tennessee at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on June 1.

In the first quarter, Firebirds wide receiver Marquel Wade returned the kickoff for a 50-yard touchdown. In response to the explosive touchdown, the Kats marched into Firebird territory but on fourth down, turned the ball over on downs at the 15-yard line.

On the following drive, Albany quarterback Jake Medlock completed a 15-yard play to fullback Jake Molinich. While the Firebirds appeared to be in position for a second score, Medlock was intercepted by defensive back Derrick Jones.

The Kats, however, were unable to capitalize on the miscue as quarterback Ramon Atkins immediately threw an interception to linebacker Trevon Shorts. Even with four downs, the Firebirds struggled to convert the touchdown, and the quarter ended with a missed field goal and a score of 7-0.

Slow Build in the First Half

To open the second quarter, Atkins completed back-to-back passes, but on fourth and goal with two yards to go, the Kats turned the ball over on downs for another scoreless possession. On the opportunity, Medlock completed a medley of passes, and a facemask penalty gave the ball to the Firebirds at the 11-yard line. Medlock capitalized on the opportunity, rushing for an 11-yard touchdown and bringing the score to 14-0.

Following the score, the Nashville Kats fumbled the ball on the kickoff, giving the Firebirds an extra possession, but a fumble was confirmed on Medlock on a controversial review. Medlock appeared to be in the act of throwing, but the call was upheld. With the ball back, the Kats marched up the field off penalties and short gains, but Atkins was tackled hard on the Albany 4-yard line and came off the field with an injury. Quarterback Dalton Oliver entered the game for the Kats and completed the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Irvin.

With one more possession in the half, Medlock completed a pass to Prince, who then lateralled to Marquel Wade for a 22-yard gain. However, a penalty on the Firebirds during a challenge by the Kats negated the gain, and the first half ended 14-7 for the Firebirds.

Firebirds Pull Away

The third quarter began with a kickoff kicker Markus Orozco converted for a Deuce, giving a quick two-point strike to the Firebirds, pushing the lead for the Firebirds to 16-7. Time burned quickly for the rest of the quarter and was completed quietly and scoreless.

The fourth quarter opened play with a flurry of scores. The Kats opened on fourth and five and converted the field goal, bringing the score again to a one-possession affair, 16-10. But on the next drive, the Firebirds exploded after Medlock converted three passes to Prince and wide-receiver Darien Townsend.

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While penalties by the Firebirds nearly ended the possession, the Firebirds capitalized on a penalty by the Kats with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Medlock to Prince and a two-point conversion to Townsend. On the kickoff, Orozco converted another Deuce as the Firebirds began to pull away, 26-10.

Late Nashville Rally Falls Short

The next drive saw another injury to a Kats quarterback and sent Oliver into the locker room, bringing Atkins back out onto the field, and resulted in a turnover on downs. The Firebirds, in a rhythm, scored another touchdown with a 17-yard pass from Medlock to Prince, who caught his second touchdown pass of the day, pushing the score to 32-10.

With less than a minute left in the game, Oliver reentered the game in place of Atkins, and the Kats were able to score on a pass to wide-receiver Charles McClain and recover the onside kick. Oliver completed another passing touchdown to wide-receiver Milton Williams and the 2-point conversion to Irvin, quickly adding 14 points to the Kats total. The Kats failed to recover a second onside kick, and Albany closed out their 32-24 win.

Next week, the 6-0 Firebirds head to West Texas for a showdown with the Desert Hawks on Saturday, June 8. The 2-4 Nashville Kats head north to take on the undefeated Billings Outlaws on Saturday, June 8 as well.

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