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Albany’s 2-0 Start ties the Empire for First Place Early in 2019

The Albany Empire (2-0) defeated the Washington Valor (0-2), 36-27, in front of 9,208 fans at the Times Union Center.  Empire quarterback Tommy Grady went 19 of 31 passes for 246 yards and five passing touchdowns earning himself the game MVP award.  Empire receiver Malachi Jones led Empire receivers with six catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns, being named Offensive Player of the Game.  Empire jack linebacker, Terence Moore, had 5.5 total tackles and one interception, being named Defensive Player of the Game.  

ALBANY 7 14 7 8 36
WASHINGTON 7 7 7 6 27

Taking the game’s first possession, the Washington Valor began with the ball at their own one-yard line after a nice return by Valor receiver, Dezmon Epps, but an illegal back in the back penalty set them back.  To open the drive, quarterback, Arvell Nelson, connected with receiver, Jared Dangerfield, on consecutive throws to pick up an early first down.  After a false start penalty, Nelson went right back to Dangerfield for a seven-yard pickup on first down.  On the next play, Nelson found Epps deep downfield for a 30-yard touchdown to take the lead.

Empire receiver, Demetres Stephens, had a great return near midfield, but a penalty set Albany’s opening drive back to their own four-yard line.  On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Tommy Grady, connected with receiver, Collin Taylor, for a quick seven-yard gain.  Following consecutive incomplete passes, Albany was unable to convert on fourth down, turning the ball over on downs.  From the Empire 11-yard line, Nelson found receiver, Phillip Barnett, on a quick-hitter for a short gain.  After a no-gain on second down and an incomplete pass on third down, Nelson was stopped short of the goal line by 2018 Defensive Player of the Year, Terence Moore, turning the ball back over to Albany.

On first down, Grady hit Taylor to push Albany to the 12-yard line.  Two plays later, Grady led his top target, Malachi Jones, on a short route that ended up moving the ball across midfield to the Valor 10-yard line.  Following a short completion to Jones, and an incomplete pass to rookie receiver, Christian Briggs, Grady connected with receiver Quentin Sims from six-yards out, to even the score.

The Valor began their ensuing possession on their own ten-yard line following another nice return by Epps that was brought back due to an offensive facemask penalty.  On first down, Nelson connected with Dangerfield to push the ball across midfield as the first quarter came to a close.  After an incomplete pass to open the second quarter, Nelson found Josh Reese for the first time in the game, to move the Valor within ten yards of the end zone.  A defensive holding penalty moved Washington down to the Albany five-yard line.  Following a short gain on first down, Nelson kept it on the quarterback sneak and rushed ahead for a one-yard touchdown. 

After kicker Pat Clarke’s kickoff hit an obstruction, the Empire began from their own 20-yard line.  On first down, Grady found Jones for the 30-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 apiece. Empire kicker, Adrian Trevino, attempted a tricky backheel onside kick, that was recovered by the Valor.  From the Albany 14-yard line, Epps drew a pass interference penalty to move the ball down to the seven-yard line.  On the next play, Nelson was picked off by Moore who ran the ball to midfield setting up the Empire offense. Two plays later, Grady was intercepted by defensive back, Svante Davenport, to turn the ball back over to Washington.

Following consecutive incomplete passes, Nelson went right back to Dangerfield to pick up the first down.  Two plays later, Nelson found Reese who ran the ball all the way down to the Empire four-yard line.  After three incomplete pass attempts towards the end zone, Albany used their first timeout of the half to stop the clock with 1:29 remaining in the second quarter.  Unable to convert on fourth down, the Valor turned the ball over to the Empire offense at the four-yard line.  On first down, Gray went right to Jones downfield for his second touchdown of the night, a 47-yard catch-and-run.  Beginning on their own four-yard line with under 40 seconds to go in the half, the Valor opened up with a holding penalty as the clock continued to wind.  On the final play of the half, Nelson hit Dangerfield along the sideline dasher, who was stopped at midfield.

Stephens started off the second half with a nice return, setting up the Empire offense on their own 24-yard line.  After a short completion to Stephens to cross midfield, Grady connected with Taylor over the middle who worked his way down to the Valor seven-yard line.  Two plays later, Grady found fullback, Mykel Benson for the short completion and touchdown to extend the lead to 28-14. Stopped inside of the five-yard line, the Valor began their first possession of the second half on their own four.  After a pass interference, followed by a completed pass, Washington was quickly across midfield.  A few plays later and threatening on the two-yard line, Nelson rushed ahead for the short score to bring the Valor within one possession.

Starting on their own 11-yard line, Grady hit Taylor twice in a row for a quick Albany first down.  Following a seven-yard rush by Benson, Grady connected with jones along the sideline for another first down, setting up the Empire on the Valor four-yard line.  After two rushing attempts fell short of the goal line and the game transitioned into the fourth quarter.  Following another incomplete pass, Albany elected to kick a field goal that was blocked by Roderick Henderson, giving the Valor the ball on their own nine-yard line.  Two plays into the drive, the Valor picked up a quick first down as they moved near midfield.  The next play, Nelson connected with Epps to move the ball into Empire territory to the 15-yard line.  After an incomplete pass, followed by a nine-yard reception, Nelson handed the ball off to fullback Will Corbin who plowed ahead for the first down and set up Washington in the red zone.  On the next play, Nelson rushed ahead for the three-yard touchdown – his third rushing score of the game.

Up by a point, Albany began their ensuing possession from their own 17-yard line after Stephens took a shot and recovered the squib kick attempt by Clarke. Following an offsides penalty, Grady dropped a dime over the middle of the field for Stephens, who moved the Empire to the 25-yard line.  Two plays later, Grady floated one up for Stephens in the end zone to expand the lead. On the two-point conversion attempt, Grady tossed a short pass to Benson who bulldozed his way forward to bring the lead to 36-27 with just under four minutes left in the game.

Setting up show on their own nine-yard line, Nelson went deep on the first play and connected with Epps, moving the Valor down to the Albany eight.  After a short gain followed by consecutive incomplete passes, Washington was unable to pick up the necessary yardage and turned the ball over on down with one minute to go in the game.  A penalty on the Valor set the Empire up on their own 17-yard line to all but end the game.  A short competition to Stephens near the sideline forced Washington to use their first timeout of the half.  Another short completion, this time to Taylor, gave Albany a first down, the Valor called another time out. After consecutive kneel downs, the clock ran out securing a 36-27 victory for the Empire. 

Albany Empire 2019 Season Presented By CDPHP.

About Albany Empire

Season memberships for the 2019 season are on sale now. For tickets, contact the Albany Empire sales department at (518) 533-2200 or by going to . Follow the team on Facebook at  and Twitter at

About the Arena Football League

The Arena Football League enters its 32nd season in 2019. Since its inception in 1987, the AFL showcases a fast-paced, exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets. With the addition of two new teams in Atlantic City, N.J., and Columbus, O.H., the League totals six teams for 2019: Albany, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Columbus, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Each team will play 12 regular-season games in 2019. One can find the League can on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using the handle @OfficialAFL.

About Times Union Center

Albany’s Times Union Center, formerly Pepsi Arena, continues to have great success. Renamed in January 2007, the Times Union Center is “Upstate New York’s Premier Sports and Entertainment Facility. Owned by Albany County and operated by SMG, the world’s largest private management firm for public assembly facilities, the Times Union Center has an adaptable seating capacity between 6,000 and 17,500. Since Frank Sinatra christened the building on January 30, 1990, more than seven million patrons have walked through the turnstiles. As a multi-purpose facility, the Times Union Center has hosted a variety of events, including concerts, family shows and sporting events, averaging 165 events each year. 

About CDPHP®

Established in 1984, CDPHP is a physician-founded, member-focused and community-based not-for-profit health plan that offers high-quality affordable health insurance plans to members in 26 counties throughout New York. CDPHP is also on Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest , and Instagram .

About Transfinder

Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Schenectady, New York, Transfinder is a national leader in intelligent transportation systems, providing transportation management systems and services to school districts, municipalities and adult care facilities. Transfinder, an Inc. magazine “fastest-growing company” for the past eleven straight years, has offices in Austin, Texas, and Shanghai, China. The software company develops and supports routing and scheduling solutions for optimal transportation logistics.

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