AAF Week 8 scores, highlights, updates: Hotshots win to grab share of West lead; Iron earn playoff berth

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Saturday’s action in the AAF had a little bit of everything. Orlando-Memphis went down to the final minute and the Apollos needed to stave off an upset bid to get their seventh win of the year. That was followed by San Diego-Salt Lake, an ugly Stallions win that had a combined six turnovers and 11 points.

Sunday’s schedule had two important games in the playoff race. The Birmingham Iron secured the second playoff spot in the East with a win over the Atlanta Legends. The nightcap between the Arizona Hotshots and San Antonio Commanders was a dominating performance by the Hotshots to emerge as the top team in the West — at least for the time being. 

CBS Sports was with you every step of the way, so check below for the all the scores, highlights and updates from Sunday’s games. 

Scores

Sunday
Birmingham Iron 17, Atlanta Legends 9 (Final) 
Arizona Hotshots 23, San Antonio Commanders 6 (Final) 

Saturday
Orlando Apollos 34, Memphis Express 31
Salt Lake Stallions 8, San Diego Fleet 3

Check these out 

Turnover, touchdown helps seal massive Arizona victory

The hottest team in the West, and perhaps the AAF, is the Arizona Hotshots. Winners of three straight, Arizona blew away San Antonio 23-6 in the most impressive showing by any team in Week 8. The Hotshots got their usual downfield shots in with star wideout Rashad Ross (4 catches, 78 yards, TD) to beat the Commanders over the top while leaning on the running game of Justin Stockton and Tim Cook. However, it was the defense that showed up in the biggest way. Arizona held San Antonio to a pair of field goals and forced two key takeaways, including this critical strip sack in the fourth quarter with the Commanders looking to score. 

That was followed uby a Cook touchdown to put the game away for good. 

Arizona now takes a share of the lead in the West playoff race. Keep in mind that, since the Hotshots and Commanders have beaten each other and are tied at 3-2 in the division, net points in conference games is the current tiebreaker. In any case, these are probably the two best teams in the West who will likely see each other again in April. For now, though, the Hotshots are playing as well as any team in the Alliance.

Marquise Williams comes in at QB for Commanders

To say that nothing has worked for San Antonio offensively would be putting it lightly. The Commanders dearly miss deep threat wideout Mekale McKay, who is inactive with a high ankle sprain, and this team hasn’t done much without him. To provide a spark on offense, coach Mike Riley swapped out Logan Woodside (4-of-9 with an interception) for Marquise Williams. The former North Carolina quarterback led the Commanders on their best drive of the first half, resulting in a long Nick Rose Field goal. Down 15-3, the Commanders need major halftime adjustments on both sides of the ball. 

Rashad Ross takes the top off of San Antonio’s defense for six

Orlando quarterback Garrett Gilbert is the frontrunner to be the Offensive Player of the Year, but Ross is right there, too. No other AAF wideout has consistently stretched the field like he has. That speed from the Hotshots’ star was on display in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Commanders as Ross ran right by the entire San Antonio defense for a 58-yard score to put Arizona up 6-0. Ross has been banged up in recent weeks, too, but he’s a gamer — or, as an Arizona coach once texted, a “beast.” 

Iron defense steps up, sends Birmingham to playoffs

The Birmingham Iron are going to the playoffs, and in typical fashion, they didn’t need much offense to do it. The Iron got a fumble recovery and an interception in the fourth quarter, the latter coming after punter Colton Schmidt pinned Atlanta inside its own 5-yard line, and defeated the Atlanta Legends, 17-9. The win locked up the No. 2 seed in the East for the Iron, after the Orlando Apollos locked up the No. 1 seed on Saturday. Birmingham’s defense has been making plays like this all season.

Murray goes in for Simms, Iron stuff him at goal line

Aaron Murray has relieved Matt Simms at quarterback for Atlanta in the third quarter, and it looked as though he would get them in the end zone on his first drive. However, Birmingham’s defense seldom breaks near the goal line, and it stood tall again. On 4th-and-goal from the 3, Murray tried to run it in but came up a yard short.

Birmingham special teams having a day

The Iron haven’t done much on offense, but it hasn’t mattered: Birmingham’s special teams are on fire. After setting up a touchdown with a fumble recovery in the second quarter, the Iron’s DeVozea Felton returned a punt 49 yards to the Atlanta 19 in the third. The Iron settled for a 37-yard field goal from Nick Novak.

Atlanta soon answered with a field goal of its own. The Legends, as usual, are staying in the game thanks to their perfect kicker. Younghoe Koo made his third field goal of the game in the third quarter, and is now a perfect 14 of 14 this season.

Iron recover fumbled punt, Richardson punches it in

All the Iron and Legends could muster offensively was one field goal apiece until about eight minutes before halftime, but that’s when the Iron finally broke through. It started with the Legends fumbling on a punt return — it was their third fumble on a punt in the first half, but they recovered the other two — after Birmingham’s Ike Spearman punched it out of the arms of Dwayne Hollis, and it was returned to the Atlanta 1. That’s where Trent Richardson did what Trent Richardson does, punching it in for his AAF-leading 11th touchdown.

Iron without their top player vs. Legends

Birmingham is shorthanded during today’s game vs. Atlanta, but namely it will be without arguably its best player: cornerback Jamar Summers. The AAF’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate suffered a knee injury in the Week 7 loss to Memphis and did not practice this week. He is on the Iron’s inactives list, along with running back Brandon Ross. The Iron’s pass defense suffered without Summers on the field a week ago and could be in jeopardy of giving up more big plays through the air today. 



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