SAN ANTONIO – Mistakes on both sides of the ball hurt the San Antonio Commanders as they fell 37-29 to the Orlando Apollos (2-0) in front of 29,176 fans at the Alamodome on Sunday afternoon.
The loss is the first in franchise history for the San Antonio franchise, who won their inaugural game a week ago. Orlando trailed by 12 late in the fourth quarter but would score 20 consecutive points to rally for the win.
“We had a couple more chances in the red zone and we couldn’t score,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “I’m proud of the football out there and proud of how our kids fought.”
San Antonio dominated the opening 15 minutes as they used their defense to hold Orlando to two consecutive three and outs and offensively scored twice to take a 12-0 lead into the second quarter. Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow ran for a touchdown and quarterback Logan Woodside found Evan Rodriguez for the 1-yard score.
The Apollos responded in the second quarter as former Texas Longhorns quarterback Garrett Gilbert found the holes in the Commanders’ secondary and threw for 214 yards in the quarter. He found Charles Johnson for a 21-yard touchdown and got Orlando back in the game. A San Antonio field goal would give the Commanders a one-point lead at halftime.
San Antonio added to their lead in the third quarter with a field goal from Nick Rose and on defense, Joey Mbu came up with the fumble return for an eight-yard touchdown to put the Commanders up 29-17.
From there it would be all Orlando as they scored 20 unanswered points to get the win. Two field goals from the Apollos cut the deficit to nine, then Gilbert and Johnson connected again to knot the score at 29-29. The Commanders took over but Woodside’s pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, giving Orlando the 37-29 lead following a two-point conversion.
Gilbert passed for 393 yards and two touchdowns, completing 19 of 28 passes in this return to the Lone Star State.
San Antonio would have one final chance in the game and marched their way to the Orlando 4-yard-line but would turn the ball over on downs after failing to convert on 4th and goal.
“We knew we had to get a touchdown and extra point to tie the game,” Woodside said. Coach [Riley] had all the confidence in the world in us but we just didn’t get it done.”
Woodside finished the afternoon with 223 passing yards and one touchdown and interception. Farrow ran for 74 yards and a score on 13 carries.
While no loss is good, Farrow feels the team will learn from this as they get ready for a road trip that will see San Antonio away from the Alamodome the next four weeks.
“We just made mistakes and shot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “We got stuck on 29 (points) for a while in the second half. We’ll clean a few things up and be alright.”
The Commanders are now 1-1 on the season and will return to the field next Sunday when they travel to San Diego to face the Fleet (0-1) as San Antonio opens a four-game road trip.