It’s been over three years since former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger started a meaningful football game. It’s been even longer since he received a standing ovation when he took the field.
Before Saturday, Mettenberger held an overall record of 0-10 as a starter, losing every contest he ever began for the Tennessee Titans. But by the time the clock hit zero in the fourth quarter as the AAF’s Memphis Express defeated the San Diego Fleet, 26-23, Mettenberger owned a winless record no more.
“There’s nothing better than winning,” Mettenberger told me.
But while he enjoys this one, he knows there’s a long road ahead — and a lot of work left to do.
“You’re only as good as your next performance. That’s all that matters. You guys are going to do y’all’s job tonight, but in 24 hours no one’s going to care. It’s all about next week. We’ve just got to stack it and go 2-0 and hopefully get a run going.”
The action started slowly for the Express on offense, as Mettenberger ended the first drive of the game with a third-down fumble that was recovered by offensive lineman Dallas Thomas before Memphis punted the ball away.
The second possession hardly went any better, resulting in a turnover on downs at midfield. Even though Mettenberger and wideout Devin Lucien appeared to be getting into a rhythm, any hopes of capitalizing on a score ended after Zac Stacy was denied by the Fleet defense at the 49-yard line.
While Mettenberger and the offense managed to put themselves in San Diego territory on multiple occasions, they had a great deal of trouble turning those efforts into touchdowns, settling for three field goals before finally finding success in the end-zone.
Mettenberger kept it himself in the final seconds of the first half, giving the Express their first touchdown of the game. At that point, the game became much more manageable for the Express, who trailed just 20-15 at halftime.
The Express struggled on offense at the beginning of the second half as well, but were able to come back from an 8-point deficit toward the end of the fourth quarter, as Mettenberger drove down the field on a drive that ended in a 6-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Magee.
Mettenberger took it in on the 2-pt attempt to tie the game, 23-23.
The former LSU standout finished the contest 18-of-25 passing for 174 yards and one passing touchdown and one rushing score for a rating of 104.4.
The Express still have a ways to go on solidifying an offense that’s still coming together.
“We’ve got a really tough defense and they play well together. We’ve got to move the ball more to help them out,” Mettenberger said. “Right now, we’re asking entirely too much of them staying on the field and expecting stops. We didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted to. We completed the ball, but we really didn’t get to stretch the ball down field as much as we wanted to. But ultimately, we got the win, and that’s all that matters.”
Mettenberger will look to record another win as the Express (1-3) are set to take on the Atlanta Legends (0-3) on the road next Sunday at 3pm on CBS Sports Network.