Written by: Luke Rainey
The Sentinels’ never found their way through Mexico City’s offensive line, and Trey Allen couldn’t quite deliver on multiple opportunities for the Sentinels.
The Mexico City Conquistadors were victorious in the second game of the 2020 Relocation Football League Preseason, defeating the Sentinels 31-15 after a heavily lopsided first half. The victory did come with an expensive price tag, however. Position players CJ Bullard and Rhode Nnenna, both responsible for touchdowns in the first half, suffered injuries that sidelined them for the rest of the night. Their absences will undoubtedly impact their offense, but it is unknown exactly what the injuries are.
Meanwhile, Orlando failed to find answers against Mexico City on the ground game, mainly caused by a total lack of pressure from the Sentinels’ defensive line. The issues began early after giving up a passing touchdown on 3rd down in goal-to-go territory, but worsened in the 2nd quarter once they allowed 2 lengthy touchdown runs from Nnenna. Struggles from the offense for the Sentinels also contributed to the loss, as Orlando was limited to just 1 touchdown by Jet Skybak and scored only 13 offensive points, despite committing no turnovers.
Why the Conquistadors won
The Orlando Sentinels were consistently out-dueled against the Conquistadors’
offensive line throughout the entire game, especially in the first half. Pressure on De’Anthony Young and Chum Lee, if any pressure at all, was highly limited. This gave Mexico City plenty of opportunities to utilize their running backs in the open field. The rushing attack initially caught fire on Rhode Nnenna’s first carry. He scored a 61-yard touchdown after easily racking up the first 10 yards, and then juked a defender to take it the rest of the distance. Nnenna ran for another monstrous touchdown shortly before the end of the half, this time for 66 yards and to put the Conquistadors ahead by 17.
No defensive pressure also assisted De’Anthony Young during the Conquistadors’ put-away drive in the 4th quarter. On 3rd Down from midfield with an 11-point lead, the Sentinels gave Young enough time to execute a magical play. He struggled to decide if he wanted to pass or scramble, and eventually tight roped around the sideline to successfully get the 1st Down. It took him 8 seconds to get past the line of scrimmage, not even including the additional 21 yards he picked up afterward. Running back Malik Jones then completed the drive with an 18-yard touchdown, ultimately to end Orlando’s bid at a comeback.
Why the Sentinels lost
Aside from Jet Skybak’s 40-yard touchdown run, the Sentinels had a terrible outing in the 2nd quarter. After Skybak’s score, Orlando’s offense under Trey Allen suffered consecutive three-and-outs, and the explosive runs by Mexico City did not help matters on the defensive side. The Sentinels had a final chance to score before halftime, but Allen failed to connect with deep passes to open receivers on back-to-back plays.
It was clear that Coach Armstrong made enormous adjustments to the offensive game plan during halftime. After an entire quarter of an ineffective passing attack, Allen started rushing out of the pocket and began to make plays with his feet more frequently. His mobility was responsible for moving the chains at least 3 times in the second half, including a pair of 3rd-down conversions. However, it was not enough to mitigate any of the damage done in the 2nd quarter.
The game itself was largely controlled by Mexico City from start to finish, but
injuries to key offensive players may result in a prolonged “turning point” in the Conquistadors’ offense moving forward. Receiver CJ Bullard was the first of 2 casualties to Mexico City. While securing a 33-yard catch, Bullard suffered an injury and was taken to the locker room. It was an abrupt end to a very promising start as a Conquistador, as he finished with 6 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Rhode Nnenna may be an even bigger loss for the Conquistadors. Sharing the wealth with Dmani Manuel, Nnenna was a leading factor in Mexico City’s 2nd-quarter performance. He scored 2 separate rushing touchdowns for more than 60 yards, but it crashed to a halt on an injury sustained during a kickoff return early in the 3rd quarter.
Play of the Game
De’Anthony Young’s crazy 3rd Down run was nothing shy of incredible, but it was also one of the most significant plays in solidifying Mexico City’s win over the Sentinels. With 8 minutes to go and up by 11, the 21-yard outside scramble after waiting several seconds in the pocket helped extend the Conquistadors’ possession. This ultimately set up an 18-yard touchdown run by Malik Jones, which gave the Conquistadors a 3-possession lead and sealed the victory for Mexico City.
The preseason is essentially over for the Conquistadors, as they will not play in any RFL-exclusive games until the regular season begins. However, during this time, there will likely be additional information concerning the status of Bullard and Nnenna, and the offense may have to adjust accordingly depending on the severity of their injuries.
For the Sentinels, they will play against the Portland River Hogs in the final week of the preseason, definitely hoping to fix the struggles they experienced against the Conquistadors.
Luke Rainey returns in season 5 with his first game review of the season. Join now to keep up with all of the latest from the RFL