Empire hold off Cobras to advance to NAL championship


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In just their first season in the NAL, the Albany Empire are championship-bound. They hosted the Carolina Cobras in the NAL semifinals Saturday night. Leading 41-28 in the fourth quarter, the Cobras struck. Aaron Aiken found Lamark Brown II for a 9-yard touchdown to cut the lead to just six.

The Empire responded quickly. Tommy Grady hit Phillip Barnett across the middle who lunged over the plane for the score, giving Albany a double-digit lead again at 48-35.

They wanted insurance late and they got it with the same connection. Grady to Barnett in the back of the endzone helped Albany top Carolina 55-41, sending the Empire to the title game in their first NAL season.

“I told the coaches and the owners right after the game, I said, ‘Our story was unbelievable that we played this year,'” head coach Tom Menas said.

“And then the story got unbelievable that we finished the season in the lead at 7-1, and now the story got even crazier that we’re in the championship game, and we’re playing a team that’s been around for 15 years and we’ve been around for 15 weeks,” Menas continued. “Couldn’t be prouder of the men.”

They will host the Columbus Lions for the NAL Championship Saturday night at 7 p.m.

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