Philip Nelson overcame an interception on the game's first play to throw two touchdown passes and Ja'Quan Gardner ran for 122 yards on 12 carries as the San Diego Fleet defeated the San Antonio Commanders, 31-11, Sunday.
The Fleet defense made five quarterback sacks, intercepted two passes and limited the Commanders to three points after Logan Woodside threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Mekale McKay on the game's second play and Woodside completed a pass to Evan Rodriguez on the required two-point conversion attempt.
The touchdown came one play after De'Vante Bausby intercepted a pass by Nelson at the San Antonio 35-yard line and returned the ball 18 yards to the Fleet's 47-yard line.
Both of Nelson's touchdown passes went to Nelson Spruce. The Fleet (2- 1) also got touchdowns from Gardner on an 83-yard run, the longest play in the Alliance of American Football's 12-game history, and middle linebacker A.J. Tarpley on a 27-yard interception return.
The victory before a crowd at SDCCU Stadium announced at 14,789 avenges the Fleet's 15-6 loss at San Antonio Feb. 9 and moves them into a tie with Arizona (2-1) for the lead in the four-team Western Conference, three games into the AAF's inaugural 10-game regular season.
Nelson completed 17 of 25 passes for 193 yards with one interception for his second victory in two starts as the Fleet avoided being swept by the Commanders, which would have given San Antonio the first tiebreaker over the Fleet for a playoff berth.
The Fleet outgained the Commanders, 381-291, and led 20-15 in first downs but trailed 30:25-29:35 in time of possession.
Woodside completed 12 of 23 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions before being replaced by Marquise Williams with seven minutes, 20 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.
Williams also quarterbacked San Antonio (1-2) on its third possession of the first quarter.
Following the interception on their first possession and being forced to punt after three plays on their second, the Fleet scored their first touchdown on their third possession, driving 92 yards on eight plays, with Nelson throwing a 3-yard pass to Spruce for the score.
Nelson completed all three of his passes on the drive for 53 yards, including a 43-yard completion to LaQuvionte Gonzalez that moved the ball from the Fleet's 28-yard line to the Commanders' 29-yard line.
Terrell Watson ran five times for 39 yards during a game he ran for 73 yards on 13 carries.
Tarpley's interception return touchdown and Watson's two-point conversion run gave the Fleet a 14-8 lead 12:19 before halftime.
The Fleet increased its lead to 22-8 on Nelson's 18-yard touchdown pass to Spruce with 2:09 left in the first half and Watson's two-point conversion run. Nelson was six-for-six for 51 yards on the 11-play, 84-yard drive which also included a 15-yard illegal defense penalty against San Antonio.
Gardner ran 83 yards for a touchdown on the Fleet's first possession of the third quarter.
The Commanders other points also came off a Fleet turnover.
Nick Rose kicked a 23-yard field goal with 3:27 left in the third quarter, five plays after Gonzalez muffed a punt, with Nick Tempe recovering for San Antonio at the Fleet's 11-yard line.
The Fleet's Donny Hageman kicked a 35-yard field goal with 11:49 to play for the fourth quarter's only points.
The game marked a return to San Diego for Commanders coach Mike Riley, who coached the Chargers to a 14-34 record from 1999-2001.