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Gilbert, Orlando Apollos rally past Commanders in AAF action

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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In perhaps the most exciting sample yet of Alliance of American Football action in the brief run of the league, the Orlando Apollos rallied past the host San Antonio Commanders for a 37-29 victory in the Alamodome in front of a reported 29,176 fans on Sunday afternoon.

"It was a fun win," Orlando coach Steve Spurrier said in his postgame on-field interview.

Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert became the first AAF player to eclipse the 300-yard passing mark in a game, as he completed 19 of 28 passes for 393 yards and a pair of scores as Orlando emerged from a 12-0 deficit following the first quarter to win it. It was defensive back Keith Reaser who scored the game-winning touchdown, though, when he turned an interception along the sideline into a 39-yard score.

Apollos receiver Charles Johnson, who played three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, had seven catches for 192 yards and a score, while fellow receiver Jalin Marshall had four grabs for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside completed 20 of 29 passes for 223 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while San Antonio running back Kenneth Farrow II had 13 carries for 74 yards and a score and receiver De'Marcus Ayers had five catches for 80 yards.

The Apollos, who trounced the Atlanta Legends, 40-6, in the first week, are one of three 2-0 teams, tied with the Birmingham Iron atop the East Division. The Arizona Hotshots are also 2-0 and lead the West. San Antonio is 1-1.

Following a field goal by Elliott Fry, who had three on the day, to cut Orlando's deficit to 15-11 in the second quarter, Gilbert found Johnson for the team's first lead at 17-15. However, the Commanders surged back ahead 29-17 in the third quarter when a Gilbert fumble was returned for a score by defensive tackle Joey Mbu. The Commanders ran their lead to 29-20.

A Fry 47-yard field goal brought Orlando to within 29-23.

Gilbert, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014 and played in his only NFL game this past season for the Carolina Panthers, hit Marshall, who played for the New York Jets, for a 23-yard game-tying touchdown with 7:49 to go in the game before Reaser, who played parts of four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, returned a pick-six for the game-winning score and Gilbert connected with Rannell Hall on the two-point conversion.

Running back De'Veon Smith began the comeback for the Apollos, scoring on a one-yard run before taking a pitch for two points and a 12-8 second-quarter deficit.

Farrow II, a former Charger, had a 15-yard touchdown run to begin the scoring in the opening stanza with Woodside connecting with Evan Rodriguez for the second San Antonio score in the quarter. Commanders kicker Nick Rose, who most recently kicked for the L.A. Chargers in the postseason, had three field goals, including a 50-yarder that gave San Antonio a 15-8 lead.

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