ALBANY — The Albany Empire broke open a tight ArenaBowl 32 with a 21-point second-quarter and rolled to a 45-27 victory over the Philadelphia Soul on Sunday night at the Times Union Center.
The Empire gave Albany its first Arena Football League championship since 1999, when the Firebirds claimed the title. The Empire had lost in last year's semifinals to the eventual champion Washington Valor.
Albany, the regular-season champions of the six-team AFL, was led by league Most Valuable Player Tommy Grady, who completed 16 of 25 passes for 200 yards and five touchdowns, four to receiver Quentin Sims, who caught nine passes for 93 yards.
Trailing 7-0 early, defensive back Maurice Leggett returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown to pull Albany even.
Knotted at 21-21 in the second quarter, Leggett recovered a fumble for the Empire that led a Grady-to-Sims touchdown pass on the next play, giving Albany the lead for good. Following a successful onside kick, Grady found Sims again just before halftime for a 35-21 edge.
Grady hit Mykel Benson for a touchdown in the third quarter while the Empire locked down on defense to seal victory.