ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — A day before the NAL championship game, Albany Empire head coach Tom Menas said, “We’re going to win.” Carolina Cobras head coach Josh Resignalo said, “We’re the better team.” Saturday night, only one of them could be proven right in the NAL Championship.

The Empire jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a Sam Castronova designed quarterback keeper. The Cobras quickly responded, taking a 7-6 lead on a quick screen from quarterback Jonathan Bane to wide receiver Kendrick Ings.

From there, it was all Empire. After Castronova linked up with Aaron Wascha for a touchdown in the first quarter to make it 13-7, the Albany defense came up with a big 4th and 1 stop. They turned the opportunity into a Castronova to Darius Prince touchdown to make it 20-7.

Castronova found both Prince and Wascha for another touchdown each in the first half, as the Empire rolled into halftime with a 34-7 lead. Albany cruised from there on their way to a 47-20 win, repeating as NAL champions. “I told you if we did what I thought we would do, this would happen, and it did,” said Menas. “I’m very happy with the outcome and couldn’t be prouder of this group of young men.”

Castronova went 15-17 for 147 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception in the win. “It’s a special group of guys,” said Castronova. “I’ve been saying it all year, every time you guys talk to me, we all just love each other, man. We grew closer and closer throughout the season. These are my brothers, man. I’m gonna be friends with these guys for a long, long time. It means a lot.”

The defense held Carolina to their lowest point total all season. “I love my coaches man, I love my teammates, these fans, everybody,” said linebacker Nick Haag. :No one thought we would do it. They hated on us the whole year, now we got the ring.”