by QCC Twitter
The Tallahassee Pride (TAL) and Queen City Corsairs (QCC) were both on fire coming into this battle of undefeated teams. In Week 2, the Pride defended home turf against the Atlanta Swarm in a decisive 27-13 victory, while the Corsairs did the same, sending the Dallas Ruffnecks home with a 49-28 loss. Both teams entered the game with high-powered offenses. The pride of Tallahassee was the passing attack, led by WR Duke Wilson, while the Corsairs forte was handing it off to HB Ash Odom. This was a much-anticipated game all week, garnering a 2nd place in votes for SFL Fan Night Game of the Week.
FIRST QUARTER: A Back-and-Forth Battle of Two Giants
Tallahassee stormed onto the field with a huge diving catch from QB Christian Christiansen to Ken Gossett. It was obvious that Tallahassee intended to take advantage of the non-contract corners of QCC. Despite the big gain, the Corsairs defense held in the redzone and made the Pride settle for the field goal to go up 3-0. Queen City took the field for the first time, showcasing a balanced attack, using WR Chris Curtis, who has been steady and reliable this season, as well as HB Ash Odom to drive down the field. Once inside the redzone, QB AJ Caswell was able to find Curtis over the middle for a touchdown pass to take the 7-3 lead. It’s likely the Tallahassee defense was expecting a off-tackle run from Odom, which the Corsairs have been using successfully so far this season. The first quarter ended after a few three-and-outs from both teams, with Queen City up 7-3 over Tallahassee.
SECOND QUARTER: Christiansen Gets Hot
At the start of the second quarter, Tallahassee took advantage of the Queen City defense again, as WR Duke Wilson got free across the middle and took the ball all the way down to the QCC 8 yard line. The unsung hero of the play was LB Avry King, who chased Wilson down from behind to make the touchdown-saving tackle. The Pride would not be denied, however, as Christiansen lobbed a ball to Gossett to put TAL up 10-7. After a three-and-out by QCC, Tallahassee took advantage of the Queen City defense covering the center of the field by throwing a long touchdown pass to Duke Wilson along the sideline to go up 17-7. QCC was in zone defense on each of the three long passing plays allowed by the Pride. On the ensuing Queen City possession, Ash Odom was running strong, but was unable to carry the offense. QCC favored the short passing game, but it was unsuccessful in the first half and they couldn’t get any points on the board. Meanwhile, the Pride took advantage of a reeling Corsairs defense, and Christianson threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Duke Wilson, their second connection of the game and Christiansen’s third. The QCC defense had adjusted to man-to-man defense with safety coverage over the top, but Wilson was too fast and the defense was too tired to execute properly. Although QCC was content to get to halftime and make much-needed adjustments, especially on defense, the Tallahassee Pride wanted to get every point they could before the clock ran out. On a critical 3rd and 5, Christian Christiansen made a great pass in tight coverage to give the offense a new set of downs with just over a minute left. Using the hurry up offense, Tallahassee drove into the redzone, where Christianson lobbed his fourth TD pass to Ken Gossett to put the Pride up 31-7 at halftime.
HALFTIME: Some Much-Needed Adjustments
At halftime, the feeling of a Tallahassee looming blowout was strong. The first quarter had been a balanced affair, but 24 unanswered 2nd quarter points by the Pride had put QCC on their heels. Offensively, the Corsairs are built to keep a lead, using Ash Odom to run down the clock. However, there would not be enough time in the game to do so now.
THIRD QUARTER: Corsairs Comeback?
It was obvious that Queen City made some offense adjustments at halftime, with Caswell getting some nice passes to his receivers and Ash Odom taking advantage of a pass-rushing defense with big runs up the gut. Odom capped off their drive with a touchdown run to bring the score to 31-14. Defensively, Queen City managed to stifle the Tallahassee offense for the rest of the quarter. The biggest adjustment for the Corsairs was making sure Christiansen couldn’t find his receivers for big gains as they had done consistently in the second quarter. In fact, the Queen City defense played exceptionally well in the third quarter, preventing the Pride from scoring a single point. After their big second half opening drive for a touchdown, the Queen City offense was under siege for the rest of the quarter. AJ Caswell was consistently under pressure from the explosive defensive line of the Pride, being sacked on multiple occasions. After a high-scoring first half, the third quarter ended with a lone touchdown, the score standing at 31-14 in favor of the Pride.
FOURTH QUARTER: A Defensive Battle
The adjustments made by the Queen City Corsairs’ defense in the third quarter continued into the fourth, keeping the Tallahassee Pride offense out of the endzone. The adjustments still allowed for the short passing game to be effective, but the big plays were nullified. Meanwhile, the Corsairs offense continued to perform poorly. When AJ Caswell was not on his back thanks to the Pride defensive line, he was throwing short out routes to his receivers that were well-covered by the second-level of the Tallahassee defense. Halfway into the fourth quarter, the Pride managed their first score since the second quarter, thanks to a field goal, putting the score at 31-17. Down only 14 points with four minutes left, the Queen City offense was starting to get fired up. Unfortunately for them, Christian Christiansen caught the Queen City defense in zone again and fired a bullet pass to Ken Gossett for the touchdown on the ensuing drive. It was Christiansen’s fifth of the game and Gossett’s third. The connection put the score at 38-17, likely out of reach for a Corsairs comeback. Queen City seemed to want to start passing the ball with time running short, but every time Caswell dropped back, the defense was into the backfield. This forced Queen City to continue to run the ball with Odom and the clock quickly ran out on the Corsairs comeback hopes. The game ended 38-17 with a Tallahassee victory.
QB AJ Caswell completed 26 of 39 passes for 274 yards and 1 TD, with one late intereception. He was sacked eight times by the Pride defensive line, a season worst for the Corsairs offensive line. HB Ash Odom continued his stellar season, rushing 29 times for 113 yards and 1 TD. WR Chris Curtis was also solid, catching 8 passes for 127 yards with 1 TD. Defensively, the Queen City unit performed horribly in the 2nd quarter, but made nice adjustments in the second half. Newcomers shined in this game, with SS Nacho Sicario posting a team-best six tackles, FS Zane Doty a team-best 2 passes defended, and DE Jeff Duffy posting the team’s lone sack on Christiansen. Queen City (2-1) go back home in Week 4 to host the Carolina Skyhawks (1-2).
QB Christian Christiansen had a stellar game, completing 21 of 31 passes for 428 yards and 5 touchdowns. Four of those came in the second quarter alone. HB Jaye Eniola was ineffective, posting 12 carries for 35 yards, but rushing is not the Pride’s forte. WR Ken Gossett caught 9 passes for 140 yards and 3 TD passes, while WR Duke Wilson hauled in 8 passes for 275 yards and 2 TDs. Duke Wilson was named Player of the Game by the broadcast team for his efforts. Defensively, the unit played solidly, never really letting Queen City get back in the game. SS Alex Bond posted a team-high 12 tackles, while the defensive line accounted for 8 total sacks on AJ Caswell: Kevin Bane with three and Hunter Norwood and Taqwan Hale with two apiece. FS Anthony Wyo managed to pick off Caswell, as well. The team voted for their own Players of the Game, with QB Christian Christiansen garnering the award on offense and SS Alex Bond on defense. The Pride (3-0) travel to play the Vancouver Legion (1-2) in Week 4. Tallahassee is one of four remaining undefeated teams (Alaska, Sioux Falls, and Tulsa).