ALBANY, NY - On Saturday night, the San Antonio Gunslingers became only the second team to beat the two time defending NAL champion Albany Empire on their home field in Albany, New York. The 55-53 victory in the MVP Arena is considered by some fans to be the biggest win so far in the Gunslingers NAL history.
Albany held the biggest lead of the game (27-14) late in the first half before the Gunslingers scored fourteen unanswered points to earn a 28-27 lead just before the half. That lead would change hands five more times before the dramatic ending of the game when Gunslingers’ Arvell Nelson found Kali Rashaad open in the end zone with 0 seconds on the clock, securing the 2 point victory.
Nelson finished the game completing 24 of 42 passes with six touchdowns and one interception and rushed for two more scores. Rashaad and Phillip Barnett both had nine receptions and three touchdowns each.
The Gunslingers defense also did a great job limiting Albany Quarterback Sam Castronova’s rushing to 23 yards on seven carries and one touchdown, sacking Castronova once. The San Antonio defense also stopped two of three Albany two point conversion attempts. Albany’s defense made three stops with one interception and sacked Nelson twice. Both sacks contributed to Gunslinger turnovers on down. The Empire offense was stopped only twice in the game, once on downs and once on a missed quarterback-center exchange recovered by San Antonio.
Albany was otherwise unstoppable as they scored on eight of ten possessions led by Castronova, who completed 17 of 24 passes with six touchdowns and scored the lone Empire rushing touchdown. Darius Price caught three touchdowns and was joined by Nikolas Brassell, Marquell Wade, and Donavan Rasberry with one touchdown reception apiece. Wade also returned a kickoff 44 yards for a touchdown.
For the third week in a row, the outcome of the game was determined in part by the kickers. Albany's newly signed kicker Michael Hall made his debut for the Empire by converting three of five extra point conversions. Drew Pearson's streak of eighteen consecutive extra points ended with his only miss of the night, dropping him to 19 out of 20 on extra points for the year.
San Antonio next has a bye week before facing the 1-0 Fayetteville Mustangs in Favetteville, North Carolina on Sunday, May 7th. Albany goes on the road next week to Greensville, North Carolina to rematch the NAL 2023 championship game with the 1-1 Carolina Cobras on Sunday, April 30th.
ABOUT THE SAN ANTONIO GUNSLINGERS
The San Antonio Gunslingers are members of the National Arena League (NAL) and were awarded Franchise of the Year by the NAL for their overall performance during the 2022 season. Gunslingers play all home games at the Freeman Coliseum. Follow the Gunslingers on Facebook at @210sagunslingers, on Twitter @SA_Gunslingers and Instagram @sanantoniogunslingers. For Gunslingers season tickets, group packages or partnerships, visit https://www.sanantoniogunslingers.com/tickets or call (210) 298-6900.
ABOUT NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE
The National Arena League was founded in 2016 and hosted its inaugural season in 2017 as the premier league in arena football. The National Arena League has kicked off its seventh season in 2023. For more information regarding expansion opportunities or partnerships, contact Commissioner Chris Siegfried at email@example.com . For more information about the NAL visit www.nationalarenaleague.com, facebook.com/nationalarenaleague, twitter.com/NALfootball, Instagram.com/nationalarenaleague.