NAL football: Pirates sail past New York

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WORCESTER — Following a pair of close losses to first-place Jacksonville over the past two weeks, the Massachusetts Pirates righted the ship with a convincing 50-35 win over the New York Streets in their regular-season finale Saturday night at the DCU Center.

Massachusetts (8-6) took control early, scoring 16 points in the first quarter, on touchdown runs from Quayvon Hicks (19 yards) and Devon Brown (8 yards), while kicker Mike Weaver booted both extra points and added a deuce with four minutes left in the quarter.

New York (4-10) got two touchdown passes from Cody Williams (17 for 26, 174 yards, 4 TDs) in the second quarter, but Massachusetts quarterback Alejandro Bennifield found Brown on fourth down for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 2:30 left, then Weaver kicked his second deuce with 1:39 left to help Massachusetts take a 25-15 halftime lead.

Massachusetts kept the offense going in the third quarter, as Weaver had a deuce and Rannell Hall reeled in a 9-yard touchdown from Bennifield to make it 34-15 with 6:44 left. The Pirates signed Hall, a former University of Central Florida star who suited up for the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football, prior to Saturday’s game.

Massachusetts put the game away in the fourth quarter, as Brown (16 yards) and Hall (24 yards) caught touchdown passes, and Weaver hit his fourth deuce of the game.

Bennifield completed 16 of 30 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns. The former Tennessee Chattanooga standout hit Hall for eight completions for 98 yards, while finding Brown (48 yards) and Lashard Durr (25 yards) four times each.

The Pirates’ defense had a stellar night, with former Shrewsbury High star Shawn Loiseau notching two sacks, Kavika Luafatasaga picking off a pass and defensive backs Khalid Wooten (6 tackles) and Chucky Williams (5 tackles) leading the team in tackles to keep New York in check.

Massachusetts has clinched the third seed in the National Arena League playoffs and will travel to face the defending champion Carolina Cobras the weekend of Aug. 3. The date and time have not been announced.