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Massachusetts Pirates Head into Playoffs as the Number One Seed
Pirates take on the Columbus Lions on Saturday night at home.
The Lions are the fourth seed with an 8-7 record. Both teams played their last games without their starting quarterbacks who are two of the top in the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates starting quarterback Sean Brackett suffered a left ankle sprain in a loss to Jacksonville two weeks ago. He has seen improvement and the coaches are hopeful he can play Saturday night. In his absence quarterback Darron Thomas got his first start of the season last week in a 67-7 victory over Lehigh Valley. Thomas was 12 of 18 for 190 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions for the Pirates.
Columbus quarterback Mason Espinosa is currently on injured reserve. His backup, Jeremy Johnson was 14 of 28 for 184 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 67-35 loss to Carolina.
Both teams boast some of the best receivers in the league with Pirates Devonn Brown leading the NAL in yards per catch with 19 on each reception. Brown also leads the Pirates with an impressive 24 touchdowns and 1,037 receiving yards. Mardy Gilyard has 20 TDs, 70 receptions and 727 yards while Bones Bagaunte has 54 reception, 560 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Lions have Jarmon Fortson who currently leads the NAL in total touchdowns with 32 and 31 TD receptions. He also holds the league's best with 104 receptions with 1,023 receiving yards. Teammate Durron Neal has 78 catches for 1,074 yards and 25 touchdowns.
It may all come down to how the defense performs for the Pirates and the Lions. Last week's Pirates defense held Lehigh Valley to seven points with nine stops in a 67-7 victory. Pirate Kiante Northington leads the league and intercepted his 12th pass of the season. Northington and fellow defensive back John Hardy-Tuliau each have 62.5 tackles to lead the Pirates. Nick Haag leads the team with 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. The Pirates defense has caused 42 turnovers and has helped the team to a plus seven in the turnover/takeaway department.
If the past matchups between these two teams this season are any indication it should be an exciting game. In the May 6th meeting at the DCU Center Brackett hit Pearson with a ten yard pass with five seconds left to play for a 44-37 win. In Worcester again on June 12th a two yard scoring play with 4.4 remaining on the clock gave the Pirates a 62-55 victory. On June 30th in Columbus the Lions kicker Tyler Rausa had 20 points and hit a 16 yard field goal as time expired to give Columbus as 63-62 win.
Jawad Yatim is a former arena football quarterback who is President of the team and has put together a winning operation. To create a successful team Jawad recruited Head Coach Ameer Ismail to lead the talented team of players. In this inaugural season the Massachusetts Pirates are positioning themselves as contenders for a league title and recently added two former NFL draft picks to their defense. The Pirates have signed defensive back Khalid Wooten and defensive end Sam Montgomery.
"This is an exciting time of the year for the league and individual franchises in the NAL. This is what you work hard for, the opportunity to prolong your season an additional 2 weeks and compete for a championship. This group of guys deserve that, and we will prepare hard this week to ensure we have a good opportunity to do such. Should be an exciting game, and we hope to see Pirate Nation in full effect this weekend," said President Jawad Yatim.
Fans can also enjoy the games on NESN (New England Sports Network) which is televising all eight (8) Pirates home games during the 2018 season on tape-delay on NESNplus. Each of these games will also air on NESN National and on NESN primary during the week.
NESN is also airing an all access show on the team with behind the scenes footage.
NESN is airing multiple thirty minute documentary specials, following the Pirates as they navigate through their first season of action. The audience gets an in depth look at the lives of the players, coaches and front office members who are at the forefront of Massachusetts' newest professional sports franchise.
About Massachusetts Pirates
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. Pirate Nation Season Ticket Memberships for the 2018 season are now available. To become a Pirate Nation Season Ticket member or for more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Follow the Pirates on facebook at facebook.com/