Orlando Apollos rally for 37-29 victory over San Antonio Commanders

Garrett Gilbert passed for 393 yards and two touchdowns and Orlando rallied from a 12-point, second-half deficit for a 37-29 victory over San Antonio on Sunday afternoon in front of 29,176 fans at the Alamodome.

Gilbert, who played collegiately at Texas and SMU, completed 19 of 28 passes in leading the Apollos (2-0) to the comeback road win. His favorite target was Charles Johnson, who hauled in seven passes for 192 yards and a TD.

With San Antonio clinging to a 29-23 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Gilbert found Jalin Marshall for a 23-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. Orlando had a chance to take the lead but Gilbert's pass attempt on the two-point try fell incomplete.

However, the Apollos did reclaim the lead on the next possession, as Keith Reaser stepped in front of a Logan Woodside pass and returned it 39 yards to paydirt. Rannell Hall hauled in a Gilbert pass on the two-point conversion attempt to put the Apollos up 37-29.

On the ensuing possession, the Commanders marched all the way inside the Orlando 5-yard line, but a fourth-and-goal pass from Woodside was batted away in the end zone, turning the ball back over to the visitors, who ran out the final three minutes and five seconds on the clock to drop the Commanders to 1-1 on the season.

Nursing an 18-17 halftime advantage, San Antonio place-kicker Nick Rose booted his third field goal of the night, this one from 37 yards, to put the home team up 21-17 early in the third quarter.

The Commanders then scored their first-ever defensive touchdown when Jayrone Elliott's strip sack of Gilbert was picked up by Joey Mbu, who rumbled eight yards into the end zone for the score. Woodside found Evan Rodriguez on a successful two-point attempt to push the lead to 29-17, but Orlando would rally, starting with a pair of Eliott Fry field goals that made it a six-point contest with 13:55 remaining.

Woodside passed for 223 yards and a TD and Farrow II rushed for a game-high 74 yards on 13 carries, as San Antonio gained 398 yards and held the ball for 35:30, compared to Orlando's 24:30.

San Antonio raced out to a 12-0 lead after two possessions.

Kenneth Farrow II took a direct snap, weaved his way around left end and flipped into the end zone to open the scoring.

On the ensuing possession, Woodside found Rodriguez wide open in the flats for a walk-in score on the final play of the opening stanza.

The Apollos finally got on the board early in the second, as a 54-yard pass down the left sideline from Gilbert to Johnson set up a 1-yard TD plunge by De'Veon Smith, who also ran in the 2-point conversion untouched to make it 12-8.

The teams then traded field goals, as Rose drilled a 50-yarder midway through the quarter and Fry answered from 35 yards to make it 15-11.

Orlando grabbed a 17-15 lead late in the first half on a 21-yard pass from Gilbert to Johnson in the corner of the end zone, but Rose connected from 38 yards as time expired in the half to give San Antonio the lead once again.

San Antonio will hit the road to face San Diego at 7 p.m. CT next Sunday, Feb. 24. The game will be televised on NFL Network.

Photo: Kenneth Farrow II #20 of the San Antonio Commanders runs with the ball during the first half against the Orlando Apollos. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/AAF/Getty Images)

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