By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Washington Valor had the worst record in the Arena Football League this season. But during the playoffs, they caught fire and won the games they needed to win to win the ArenaBowl XXXI.
The Valor defeated the Baltimore Brigade, 69-55, at Royal Farms Arena on Saturday night in Baltimore, Maryland. This is the first championship for the Valor in their second season.
Ted Leonsis, who also owns the Washington Capitals and the Washington Mystics, owns both franchises. It’s his second championship in several weeks, as the Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup in June.
The Valor ended the season with two wins, as they went 2-10. Dean Cokinos was fired after a 0-4 start, before Benji McDowell took over on an interim basis.
The Valor lost by one point to the Albany Empire in their first game of the best-of-two series. Then, on July 21st, they won 47-40 to win on aggregates to advance to the ArenaBowl to face the Brigade, who eliminated the Philadelphia Soul on aggregates.
Valor quarterback Arvell Nelson went 23 of 33 for 223 passing yards. He also had three touchdowns.
Nelson also had 15 carries for 42 yards and five additional touchdowns. He tied the ArenaBowl record for the most carries in a game with 15 that Mykel Benson set with the Soul in ArenaBowl XXX.
Doug McNeil had eight receptions for 95 yards and three touchdowns. Josh Reese also had six receptions for 52 yards, while Reggie Gray had four receptions for 51 yards. Jared Dangerfield also had four receptions for 19 yards.
Brigade quarterback Randy Hippeard went 19 of 30 for 288 passing yards. He had five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Rory Nelson had a rushing touchdown, but ended up with zero rushing yards on two carries.
Brandon Collins had six receptions for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Thompkins had five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. Demetres Stephens had four receptions for 78 yards.
Quentin Sims had four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.
McNeil had four touchdowns in the second half. Three touchdowns were in the third quarter, while one was in the fourth quarter.
Nelson scored the Valor’s other touchdown in the second half, as he scored on a five-yard rushing touchdown.
Thompkins had two Brigade touchdowns in the second half. Michael Knight also scored on a zero-yardage fumble recovery in the end zone.
Nixon also scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown. Collins added a ten-yard touchdown reception.
Nelson scored four times in the first half for the Valor. All four were rushing touchdowns.
Chris Duvalt also had a 33-yard net recovery touchdown.
Collins had two Brigade touchdown in the first half. Sims also had a nine-yard touchdown.
The Valor now has several players, who have won multiple ArenaBowls. Duvalt (3), Gray (2), T.T. Toliver (2), who is also a Super Bowl Champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in XXXVII, Tracy Belton (2), and Fred Obi (2).
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