CHUMMY OUTLAWS: San Francisco at Tulsa 2/4/2018
When SFL fans saw the matchup on paper, with an undefeated team playing host to an underdog with a single win, many wrote it off as another easy Desperados victory.. However, as the game wound on, it began to look more and more like the Sharks would be the first ones to take a bite out of Dion Hawkins’ successful first-year team. Even though Tulsa was able to walk away with a victory, San Francisco showed the SFL Nation that this spotless team is, in fact, very mortal.
Sir Charles Robinson, quarterback for the Tulsa Desperados, won the coin toss and elected to receive. The move was a confident one, but unfortunately San Francisco’s defense, led by Max Jackson, were up to the task and after a few plays were able to force a punt. Offensively, the Sharks started off a little rusty, missing their first pass, but connecting with WR Gabriel Manning on the next one for 8 yards. The next pass was almost picked off by the Desperados secondary and Tulsa was back in business. After a mix of handoffs to owner/runningback Dion Hawkins, a deep pass to Sonzo Robinson put the Desperados squarely in Sharks Territory, but San Francisco was able to hold Tulsa to a field goal, with Arbin Asipi providing a clutch pass deflection in the endzone. On the Shark’s next series, Luyindula tossed a swing pass that was caught before the receiver ran out of bounds, allowing them to get some ‘yak’ and four yards, but the next play saw Kyler Murray, a Desperado, haul in an interception at midfield. San Francisco answered immediately by sacking Charles Robinson on the next play, and the Sharks defense was able to prevent any more points from being added to the board. Ryan Moats II, fullback and owner of San Francisco, saw his first two carries on the next series, including a blazing fast 66 yard rush for the first touchdown of the game and his career, putting the Sharks on the board and giving them the lead, 7-3. At the end of the first, the Desperados had returned to Sharks territory, hoping to return the touchdown favor.
While Sir Charles Robinson and the Desperados were in enemy territory, they weren’t able to find the promised land yet again, and after trying to get the Sharks to jump offsides on 4th and 1, settled for a field goal drilled through the uprights by K. Joseph Carroll, giving the Sharks a slim 1 point lead. Jacques Luyindula and Moats returned to the field, attempting much the same fullback dive that put them up on Tulsa, but the Desperados were ready for it, only allowing 2 yards this time. The very next play saw Luyindula picked off again by Kyler Murray while aiming for Gabriel Manning. It was then time for the Desperado’s chance to show off their running game, with Dion Hawkins breaking 2 tackles to dash 43 yards to the endzone, putting Tulsa on top 7-13. Once again, the Sharks began an offensive drive that would end in tragedy, as Jeffery Desir picked off another pass intended for Manning. San Francisco’s defense stepped up, and Asipi was able to grab an errant ball in field goal range for the Sharks. Fortunately for the home team, the very first Sharks offensive snap saw Luyindola tackled outside of field goal range, and their kicker, Eric Walsh, was forced to coffin corner a punt at the Tulsa 3 yard line. The next series for the Desperados, with the half winding down, ended in an interception intended for Luis Latorre, but the Sharks would throw their own INT to Charles Ball for a touchback, and the half ended with the Desperados leading the Sharks 7-13. By this point in the game, each team had thrown at least two interceptions, and fans were wondering what kind of halftime adjustments each team would make.
San Francisco started the second half of the game strong, marching downfield into enemy territory, only to be stopped by a resurgent Desperados defense. Sharks kicker Chris Kicks was able to boot one through the uprights, narrowing Tulsa’s lead to a single field goal. When Sir Charles Robinson took the field, was able to find another Robinson for a diving catch that, for all intents and purposes, should have been 6 points for Tulsa had it not been for Max Jackson. Sharks defender Chester Field was also in the mix, high fiving a pass over the middle out of the air, and preventing the Desperados from coming away from the series with anything more than 3 points, widening their lead to 6 over the Sharks. San Fransisco spent the remainder of the quarter rallying the troops and marching downfield with clutch receptions from Django Anoa’i and Amari Manuel. With one second remaining on the clock before the final quarter, Max Maximus was able to break through for the Sharks second touchdown of the day, giving them the lead going into the final quarter 17-16.
Tulsa took the field and immediately tossed a 12 yard pass for a first down, and another deep pass to non-contract Miller put them in enemy territory yet again. Thankfully for the Bay Area defense, Chester Field was able to sack Robinson on the next play, and held them to yet another field goal, putting the Desperados up by only two points. The Sharks, on their next series, were able to make it into field goal territory, but were pushed back out of it with a sack by another non-contract player, Romanoff, and San Francisco returned the ball to Tulsa. At this point, something strange happened. Tulsa, who had been generating positive yardage all night, stumbled over themselves so hard they almost surrendered a safety, ultimately sending the ball back to San Francisco. Jacques Luyindula, mustering his best Tom Brady, set about getting his troops down the field as the clock ticked away, and met with success, pushing them into field goal range. On first down, with the clock fast approaching two minutes, a pass in heavy traffic was caught for 9.5 yards by Manning. The next play was a handoff to fullback Moats, who ended up losing a yard on the play. He was able to regain that yard on the very next play, but it was the one after that will have fans scratching their heads for days to come. The Sharks lined up in field goal formation and sat there for a bit. Some believed they were attempting to catch the Desperados offsides, but the ball was then snapped – and a fake field goal run was attempted. Instead of gaining a one point lead, San Fransisco’s playcall ended up losing two yards, turning over on downs. Tulsa, attempting to run out the clock, was able to pick up one first down, but on the wrong side of the two minute warning, and with 1:50 to go in the game, was forced to punt the ball back to San Fransisco. Luyindola again rallied his troops, and was able to drive them into Tulsa territory, but a sack after spiking the ball put them at 3rd and 17 outside of field goal range. They needed a miracle, but instead they got Nate Hezlep, who grabbed the fifth and final Sharks interception of the day, sealing the win for Tulsa.
While the standings column reads one way, this game read a completely different way, with the San Francisco Sharks held to only 11 less yards than their competition, even after five interceptions. Meanwhile, the Tulsa Desperados can breathe a sigh of relief, but it should be a measured one, as without the questionable playcall in the 4th quarter, they might very well be licking their wounds after a hard-fought loss. The Desperados travel to the Carolinas this week to take on the Skyhawks, while the San Francisco Sharks are hosting the Houston Hyenas this weekend, in what looks to be another weekend of exciting SFL matchups – BE THERE.