by Ray Bentley, Mexico City RB
DATELINE: Raleigh, North Carolina. The Mexico City Aztecs traveled north to the Carolina Skyhawks for Week 2 with both teams vying for their first win of the season to help galvanize their fanbases. It was the Skyhawks who would capture their first win at the end of regulation thanks to a bit of poor clock management on the part of the Aztecs, but those in attendance can tell you that up until the end, it truly was anyone’s game.
QUARTER ONE: The Skyhawks Take Flight
Mexico City’s night began auspiciously, losing the coin toss, but winning possession of the ball on a Carolina kick. Unfortunately for the former champions, the Skyhawk secondary came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, forcing a punt and giving the Skyhawks offense, led by quarterback Mark Biddix, control of the ball. Take control Biddix did, marching his team down the field with help from running back A.J. Francis. Inside Aztec territory, Biddix found wide receiver Jalan Miller in the endzone to put the first points on the board for the night. Trailing 0-7, Mexico was again stopped by Carolina’s defense, in particular Sir Chappell, Phil Hall, and Jay Bolt, who had a combined 15 tackles for the night. For a team that registered 26 total tackles from star players, this trio of rookies seemed to have Mexico’s number for the entire first quarter, forcing a hurry up offense that went nowhere and giving Carolina the lead and the ball back going into the second quarter.
QUARTER TWO: The Microcosm
The Skyhawks once again went downfield, but this time the Mexico City defense had been slapped back into shape, and Carolina settled for a field goal. Upon getting the ball back, Aztecs quarterback Matt Willson shook off that first quarter dust and started taking the championship offensive unit down the field when it happened again: in enemy territory, an easy pass was intercepted by a generic defensive back. Fortunately for the visitors, Ray Bentley tackled the interception short of the end zone, and once again their defense was able to hold the Skyhawks to another field goal. With the score at 0-13, once again, some went ahead and called it a night, but those are the fans who have never seen a Mexico game. Richard Montague, the most handsome receiver in the league, caught an equally handsome 56 yard touchdown pass to put Mexico right back in contention with 26 seconds to spare. At halftime, the Carolina Skyhawks led, 13-7.
QUARTER THREE: Altered Beast, Alter Me
The Skyhawks, having deferred to begin the game, received the ball, but were not able to capitalize on it eventually punting the ball away to Mexico City. The Aztecs had made a few adjustments at halftime and on the first play of their possession, Ray “Altered Beast” Bentley was able to evade Carolina’s defense for a wild 38 yard touchdown. Carolina and Mexico then began a battle of attrition, each going three and out until A.J. Francis showed off his own inner Beast. After the Aztecs nailed a punt inside the 5, Francis blew past the Mexico City secondary for 79 yards, finally being brought down by Jack Brown as the long distance run began to take its toll. Taking a breather, Carolina was able to finally cash in their redzone appearances on a handoff to backup back Jody Barr, putting them ahead 14-20. Mexico would go three and out on their next series, but Devin Cabrera would get things going again for their defense, picking off a Biddix pass intended for Francis. Mexico injured Skyhawks cornerback Pierre Luyindula, but were not able to do anything positive with the interception and punted inside the 5 again. The Skyhawks once again avoided a safety with another long 40 yard run. Going into the fourth quarter, Carolina held onto a slim lead at 14-20.
QUARTER FOUR: A Challenging Situation
The battle of attrition began again with Skyhawks receivers Mark Strike and Trystan Dieciseis not getting much help against a resurgent Mexico defense. Mexico, however, was having troubles of their own getting the balls to do much and on a crucial third and one, Dijon Swann ran a first down backwards, to the chagrin of Aztecs fans. Having converted a fourth down earlier, and with the Altered Beast on their side, the Aztecs went for it again and converted … or so it was thought, until Carolina threw a red flag, and the call was reversed, giving the Skyhawks the ball back with the 2 minute warning fast approaching. The Aztecs were able to hold the line, however, and received the ball back under two minutes. Mexico showed signs of their former selves, marching down the field, converting on fourth down with the clock ticking away, but with K.L. Barrett tackled right before the endzone with 9 seconds to go, Mexico was unable to get off another play. The night ended with celebrations in Raleigh, while the former champions headed home to do some soul searching.
Ultimately, the game between the Skyhawks and the Aztecs was one of the most exciting in recent SFL memory. With defensive battles between frightening rookies on both sides and explosions of offense from A.J. Francis and Ray Bentley, the game had almost everything an SFL fan could ask for. While Mexico went home with their second loss of the season, they have plenty to look forward to in their build. Carolina, meanwhile, should feel confident that they’ve truly turned the corner after defeating the former champions. Next week, the Aztecs host the Chicago Wildcats for a rematch of the Season 9 Championship Game, while the Carolina Skyhawks travel across the proverbial pond to take on the victorious London Knights.
[event_details 7380] [event_results 7380] [event_performance 7380]