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Apollos rally to beat Memphis, improve to 7-1

AAF Express Apollos Football

Orlando Apollos coach Steve Spurrier, right, talks with quarterback Garrett Gilbert (3) on the sideline during a timeout in the first half of the team’s Alliance of American Football game against the Memphis Express on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/Orlando Sentinel via AP)


Steve Spurrier said he wants to go out a winner. So far, so good.

The 73-year-old coach has his Orlando Apollos at 7-1, taking a 2 1/2-game lead on the Birmingham Iron in the Eastern Conference of the Alliance of American Football. The Apollos already have clinched a playoff berth.

The Apollos came back from a nine-point deficit late in the fourth quarter Saturday to beat the Memphis Express 34-31. The Express, who lost Johnny Manziel to a concussion in the first quarter, were eliminated from playoff contention in falling to 2-6.

Garrett Gilbert rallied Orlando, going 22 of 40 for 310 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Memphis turned over the ball inside its own 30 late in the game when the punter dropped the ball, and De’Veon Smith scored from the 1 for the game-winning score.

Charles Johnson made eight catches for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Manziel went 2-of-3 for 13 yards and an interception and ran three times for 18 yards before leaving.

Brandon Silvers completed 30 of 49 passes for 269 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Express.