by Christian Christansen, Tallahassee QB

The Week 4 matchup between the undefeated Sioux Falls Sparrows and 1-1 Atlanta Swarm featured two of the most evenly matched and complete teams in the SFL. The Sparrows feature one of the most balanced overall teams with no obvious weakness to criticize and a top scoring defense. Meanwhile, the Swarm have a very complete team of their own, but the striking difference is that the Atlanta offense is largely based around their All-World runningback BDG Hollewood.

The first quarter largely featured the two offenses seeing next to zero room to work with the defenses in lockdown mode. Further complicating each teams attacking struggles were numerous near-turnovers that really disincentivises aggression that tends to be key later on in these tight games. Atlanta quarterback DeMar Woods did end up throwing an early third down pick to AJ Levye, putting them behind early in the field position game. Late in the quarter, Sioux Falls put together a nice drive that wound up stalling the red zone. The Sparrows would strike first with a field goal at the two-minute mark.

Both teams saw their offenses stall out in their respective first drives of the second quarter. Atlanta played aggressive their next time out, pushing the ball downfield and made several clutch conversions to keep the drive alive. Even though the Sparrows defense really tightened up at the goal line, BDG Hollewood was able to skirt into the endzone untouched on third down to go up 7-3. Sioux Falls responded with a march of their own into Atlanta territory, but had to settle for a field goal after the Swarm pass rush threw the rhythm of the Sparrow offense off. The offenses did not stop there, as the Atlanta offense went into two-minute mode. The Swarm quickly made their way into the redzone before the clock forced them to kick a field goal to go into half up 10-6.

The third quarter was largely an unspectacular as neither team, or side of the ball, gained a real advantage. The first notable play of the quarter was a DeMar Woods dropped deep ball to the wide-open receiver LB Allen III. Allen managed to drop the ball in such a spectacular manner that the ball popped up backwards into the waiting hands of cornerback Nick Popp. An initially promising drive that began around their own 30-yard line was not translated into points as the Sparrows drive stalled just past field and turned into a punt. That played dividends after a defensive stop, setting them up in good position following the punt to midfield. The Sparrows were able to parlay that field position into a chip shot 25-yard field goal. The game wound up heading into the fourth at 10-9 with the advantage towards the Swarm.

The bulk of the fourth quarter featured two offenses who were unable to get anything going. Both defenses were playing very well and not giving up much ground. Around the midway point of the quarter, Sioux Falls began with a gutsy passing drive built on slant and arrow routes. The nickel and diming put the Sparrows deep into the red zone, but, as had been the story all night, the Atlanta defense tightened up and didn’t allow the touchdown. The damage had been done as with under four minutes to go, the Sparrows kicked a field goal to take the lead. After a quick stop, things got interesting late on Sioux Falls’ last drive when they missed a chip shot field goal that would’ve forced Atlanta to score a touchdown to win the game. DeMar Woods then lead one of the most well-executed two-minute offenses of the year putting Atlanta into position for a 32-yard field goal. However, the non-contract Swarm kicker missed the game winner, allowing Sioux Falls to hang on for the dub.

At the end of the day, both of these teams played a great game and should be real forces throughout the entirety of the league as two of the better teams. This game came down to who had the most redzone opportunities and then two late game missed field goals. It’s hard to really pin the blame on anybody there and both sides should hold their heads high.

“We trust in our defense & we will remind the SFL just how dangerous our offense can be. Bring on the Desperados.” – Jacen McGee

“Jason Arena is still not back in ATL. He’s getting his Forrest Gump on.” – Mark Chisholm