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Arena Football-leading Empire rallies to beat Valor

Arena Football-leading Empire rallies to beat Valor

Overcomes 34-14 halftime deficit to win 56-55
Arena Football-leading Empire rallies to beat Valor
Albany Empire coach Rob Keefe.
Photographer: Erica Miller/Gazette Photographer

WASHINGTON — With a tremendous second half and a pair of big plays in the game’s final seconds, the Albany Empire bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 56-55 comeback road win Saturday against the Washington Valor.

Down by as many as 27 points in the first half, the Empire took its first lead of the game with 12.0 seconds to go after Adrian Trevino’s point-after attempt following a 20-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Grady to Quentin Sims. The connection between Grady and Sims was one of four touchdowns the duo scored, while Grady threw for a total of six touchdowns.

After the ensuing kickoff following the Empire’s go-ahead score, Albany’s Arkeith Brown intercepted a pass with 1.5 seconds to go to seal the Empire’s victory. Albany’s 27-point comeback is the third-largest comeback in Arena Football League history, while the win also earned the Empire a playoff berth with four games left in the first-place team’s regular season.

Besides Sims’ four touchdowns, Mykel Benson rushed for two scores for the Empire, while each of Malachi Jones and Moqut Ruffins had a touchdown reception.

For the game, Grady was 22 of 33 passing for 348 yards with two interceptions. Sims led the Empire in receiving with 186 yards, while Jones had 127.

Washington’s Arvell Nelson was 23 of 34 passing for 262 yards and six touchdowns. Nelson also was intercepted twice, and ran for a touchdown.

The Empire’s go-ahead touchdown was set up by an interception from Brad Muhammad with just more than a minute to play in regulation. Muhammad intercepted Nelson in the end zone.

First-place Albany pushes its record to 7-1, two games clear of second-place Baltimore. The Empire had won its first six games of the season before losing to Baltimore.

The Empire play next Saturday against the Atlantic City Blackjacks at Times Union Center in Albany.

Albany 7 7 21 21 — 56

Washington 14 20 7 14 — 55

W — Reese 45 pass from Nelson (Clarke kick)

A — Sims 21 pass from Grady (Trevino kick)

W — Gray 18 pass from Nelson (Clarke kick)

W — Epps 14 pass from Nelson (Clarke kick)

W — Nelson 1 run (Kick failed)

W — Parker 6 pass from Nelson (Clarke kick)

A — Sims 20 pass from Grady (Trevino kick)

A — Jones 40 pass from Grady (Trevino kick)

W — Gray 20 pass from Nelson (Clarke kick)

A — Benson 1 run (Trevino kick)

A — Ruffins 8 pass from Grady (Trevino kick)

W — Reese 9 kickoff return (Clarke kick)

A — Benson 1 run (Trevino kick)

W — Dangerfield 6 pass from Nelson (Trevino kick)

A — Sims 45 pass from Grady (Trevino kick)

A — Sims 20 pass from Grady (Trevino kick)

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