The Baltimore Brigade (5-2) fell, 61-53, Saturday night to the host Albany Empire (5-2). Baltimore and Albany now are tied atop the league standings. Empire quarterback Tommy Grady was named the game's Most Valuable Player for his eight-touchdown performance for Albany. Brigade quarterback Randy Hippeard threw six touchdowns to four different receivers and ran for another in the loss. The teams meet again next Saturday in Albany.
Just 57 seconds in the game, the Empire put the first points on the board on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Grady to wide receiver Malachi Jones, putting Albany up 7-0. After a Baltimore interception and an Albany turnover on downs, the Brigade knotted the score at seven apiece with 3:13 left in the opening quarter. The second quarter featured a combined 50 points between the Brigade and Empire as both teams traded touchdowns back-and-forth over the course of the entire quarter. Hippeard accounted for all three of Baltimore's second-quarter touchdowns – two to wideout Brandon Thompkins and one to wideout Brandon Collins. Grady threw four touchdowns of his own in the second quarter, but the Brigade cut the lead to 33-31 when Mark Lewis converted on a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
The Brigade took nearly five minutes off the clock on the opening possession of the second half before Hippeard found Collins in the endzone for the second time, giving Baltimore a 38-33 lead. A pair of touchdowns passes from Grady kickstarted a 21-0 Albany run, taking back the lead and going up 54-38 early in the fourth quarter. With just under 11 minutes left in the game, Hippeard recorded his third rushing touchdown of the season and first since Week 1, bringing the Brigade back within one possession, 54-46. Grady found wideout Joe Hills for his eighth touchdown pass of the night, the most touchdown passes by any AFL quarterback in a single game this season, to give Albany a 61-46 lead with 5:27 remaining. Baltimore tacked on another score – a 23-yard pass from Hippeard to wide receiver Milton Williams, cutting the lead to 61-53, but were unable to get a stop on the ensuing possession as Albany ran out the clock to seal the win.
The Brigade are back in Albany next weekend, taking on the Empire on Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Times Union Center. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network. The Brigade return to Royal Farms Arena on Friday, June 15, hosting the Washington Valor at 7 p.m.
Horse racing: Stephen R. Ferguson's multiple graded-stakes placed gelding Rockinn On Bye snapped a 31-month losing streak with a thrilling last-to-first head victory over favored Showalter in Saturday's featured ninth race at Laurel Park . It was the first win in 28 races for 8-year-old Maryland-bred Rockinn On Bye ($6), who ran six furlongs in 1:10.77 over a fast main track in the $47,000 third-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up. Trained by Stephen Casey, Rockinn On Bye's previous victory came Nov. 1, 2015 in a starter allowance at Laurel. Since then, he placed in 14 stakes including a second in the 2017 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) and a third in the 2016 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3). Rockinn On Bye earned $34,827 for the win, pushing his career bankroll to $529,530 with a record of 7-19-10 from 56 starts.
— From Sun staff and news services