The Valor opened the 2018 campaign against their rivals, the Baltimore Valor at Royal Farms Arena. They quickly found themselves down by double digits as the Brigade got on the board when Randy Hippeard, the reigning league MVP, connected with wideout Kendrick Ings for the games first score. On the ensuing kickoff, Valor returner Chris Duvalt mishandled the ball off the net and it was recovered by the Brigade inside the Washington five-yard line. Moments later Hippeard notched his first rushing touchdown of he season, giving Baltimore a commanding 14-0 lead in the first quarer.
When the Valor offense finally ouched the field, new starting quarterback Nick Davila quickly got to work. He completed his first four passes on the drive, leading the Valor to a quick score, capping it off with a pass to Duvalt for Washington’s first points of the season. Both teams traded scores the remainder of the first half, starting the next drive when Hippeard threw a TD to Brandon Thompkins. Davila responded with his second TD of the evening to a familiar face in Rod Windsor, that cut the Valor deficit to six. The half ended with Washington defensive back Tracey Belton being called for holding or defensive pass interference on the last play of the half. That gave Baltimore the ball on the goal line, Hippeard took advantage of it by surveying the field before calmly waking into the endzone to give his team a 40-28 lead.
Belton called for PI, Brigade get another shot at it…they cover all the receivers but the QB realizes this and scurries in for the score…Brigade lead 40-28 after a missed extra point #ValorBrigade #AFL #MMOS
— MyMindOnSports (@MyMindOnSports) April 14, 2018
Davila started off the second half by moving the offense down the field, ending the drive with a 17-yard touchdown of his own. That score brought Washington within five, but the Brigade would respond yet again, this time it was receiver Brandon Collins hauling in a Hippeard pass to extend the lead back to 12. Davila and Hippeard continued to trade passing TDs, keeping the game within two scores for most of the second half.
With under one minute remaining in the game, Davila found Windsor for his seventh touchdown of the game. The third connection of the night for the two former teammates (Davila, Windsor). That brought the Valor within five yet again, Baltimore held a 61-56 lead. Washington attempted an onside kick, but it was recovered by the Brigade and they ran out the clock to end the game and hold on for the win.
Valor quarterback Nick Davila played in his first game since losing the Arena Bowl in 2016 as a member of the Arizona Rattlers. He was named Offensive Player of the Game for his seven touchdown performance. After he game, Davila was asked about his team’s performance in the opener. “We fought hard for 60 minutes, but there are no moral victories. A loss is still a loss, we’re going to come back and go to work next week.”
The Valor play their home opener next week against the newest team in the league, the Albany Empire.