With the Atlanta Swarm at the San Francisco Sharks delayed due to technical difficulties, the stage was set for two of the rowdiest fan bases in the SFL to go head to head in Carolina as the Vancouver Legion took on the Skyhawks at David A. Richardson Memorial Stadium.
Vancouver Legion @ Carolina Skyhawks
It was a case of apprentice against master as former Skyhawks defensive coordinator Andy Hamilton took his Legion side to Raleigh to face off against James Cline’s Carolina side. The Skyhawks went from Cinderella story to bust after losing to Tallahassee in the Season 8 playoffs.
There are reasons to be cheerful for Carolina however. The departure of many of their key players and coordinators in Season 8 looks to have been remedied and the Skyhawks locker room is rocking once again, even with the departure of future hall of fame runningback Johnny English.
His replacement, A.J. Francis, lit up the game with 144 yds and a touchdown, cradling a Mark Biddix toss before bull rushing a hapless Legion defender and driving into the endzone to give the Skyhawks a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. Biddix’s contribution was limited, with just 89 yds but a touchdown credited to his name through the air.
Whether or not that should have been the case was yet another cause of contention between rival fans which threatened to boil over onto the field. AJ Francis’s darting run across the middle was called as a reception for the TD, showing that even the sim football world is not exempt from a good old catch/no catch controversy.
The Legion shocked the SFL nation with a blistering late season run to reach the playoffs in their expansion season, overcoming a resilient Alaska Storm side in the divisional round but running head first into the Bentley train in the Western Conference championship. The Season 9 champion Mexico City Aztecs secured a controversial victory (Stephens was in bounds?) but the tone had been set for teams to keep an eye out for a dangerous trip to Legion Field.
Those eyes that would have been firmly fixed on this game can only have been reassured by what they saw. Andy Hamilton couldn’t have been happy with what he was seeing as hapless rookie mistakes, coupled with questionable refereeing decisions, once again plagued his side.
Tom Pepper enjoyed a fair day with 190 yds and a touchdown, but Jonathan Sanchez was limited to just 53 yards and a score in the game. Given how key a strong rushing offense is in the SFL, it’s going to be important that Vancouver address this shortfall.
A do or die last drive by Vancouver to cap off a comeback was unsuccessful, broken up by the Skyhawks secondary. The final score in Raleigh would come as blessed relief for a weary Skyhawks fanbase who have seen their team become win shy. 20-14 to Carolina.[masterslider alias=”ms-5″]