SAN ANTONIO – Penalties and an inconsistent offensive would see the San Antonio Commanders fall 23-6 to the Arizona Hotshots (5-3) in a pivotal game in front of 23,504 fans at the Alamodome on Sunday night.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for San Antonio, who would have clinched a playoff berth and home-field advantage in the Western Conference championship game with a victory. Instead, mistakes all across the board would be the Commander’s downfall.
“We played a lot of good football defensively,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said. “We just gave up a lot of big plays and gave them something in big penalties.”
San Antonio could not get anything going offensively to start the game. Quarterback Logan Woodside struggled as he completed just four of his nine passes for 32 yards and an interception.
Riley opted to put in back up quarterback Marquise Williams to spark the offense and that seemed to work as the Commanders looked much more fluid with a mobile quarterback.
Arizona struck first in the opening quarter as quarterback John Wolford found Rashad Ross for a 58-yard touchdown reception to put the Hotshots up 6-0 and quiet the raucous Alamodome crowd. After adding a field goal, Arizona added to their lead thanks to Woodside’s pass getting picked off by Dexter McDougle, setting up a Tim Cook touchdown run to make it 15-0.
San Antonio cut into the lead with a season-long 54-yard field goal from Nick Rose to make the score 15-3 at halftime. The second half saw the Commanders come out strong as Rose added a 34-yard field goal but that is all San Antonio would muster on this night.
Penalties would be the Commanders undoing as they faced a 3rd and 30 at one point in the game. Williams finished the game and completed 17 of 23 passes for 130 yards and 36 rushing yards. While the stats look nice, Williams struggled as he fumbled the ball in the red zone and overthrew receivers for what could have been two touchdowns.
“We thought what we could to with Marquise was settle their front down a little bit,” Riley said. “He gives us that extra ability to be able to run on the edge. I think that part of it was right on.”
Wolford completed 17 of his 23 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. And Cook ran for two scores, the last being a 20-yard touchdown that sealed the 23-6 win for the Hotshots.
Now, San Antonio will have to go back to the drawing board. With just two games to play, they are now tied with the Hotshots for first in the West division. Making Saturday’s game much more important, a win and they are in.
The Commanders are now 5-3 on the season and will return to the field this Saturday when they welcome the Memphis Express (2-6) at 11 am Central Time at the Alamodome.