Week One of the first season of the Alliance of American Football concluded Sunday evening with the John Wolford-led Arizona Hotshots heating up and taking down the Salt Lake Stallions, 38-22, live on the NFL Network from Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
Wolford threw four touchdowns passes — two to Rashad Ross — as the Hotshots (1-0) turned a three-point halftime lead into a comfortable season-opening victory on the strength of a 16-0 third-quarter surge.
Wolford finished the night completing 18 of 29 attempts for 275 yards and scores of 5, 36, 4 and 30 yards with a pair of two-point conversion passing scores sprinkled in.
Arizona teammate and former NFL kicker Nick Folk booted a 53-yard field goal and Ross grabbed five catches for 103 yards as the Rick Neuheisel-helmed Hotshots led off with a win.
Salt Lake (0-1), coached by Dennis Erickson, struggled offensively with scores coming on the ground from former Vikings running back Matt Asiata, receiver Jordan Leslie, who was signed to multiple NFL practice squads in the past, caught a TD and so too did tight end Nick Truesdell.
Tied at 8 early in the second quarter, Folk’s field goal led to a 19-8 Arizona lead before Leslie’s touchdown cut it to 19-16 at the half. Wolford found his stride in the third quarter with two touchdown throws followed by two-pointers to build a healthy 35-16 advantage.
Birmingham Iron 26, Memphis Express 0
NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary’s return to the sidelines was a frustrating one hardly emblematic of the defensive dominance he once displayed as a middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
The Birmingham Iron made its Alliance of American Football debut Sunday night at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. and shut out the Singletary-coached Memphis Express, 26-0.
Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, had two short rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter and linebacker DeMarquis Gates had two forced fumbles for the Iron, which had three takeaways. Former NFL kicker Nick Novak kicked four field goals and receiver Quinton Patton hauled in four catches for 107 yards.