The excitement really built up to fever pitch this week across the SFL as divisional rivals pitted themselves against each other to try to get ahead in a playoff race that is heating up. Old rivalries were rekindled, new ones were set alight for the first time and narrow, nail-biting contests were punctured by all too obvious blowouts. A total of 5 away teams returned home with a ‘W’ this week, the most since mid-January. Could this be a sign that some teams are rising above the rest? The cream always rises to the top, or so they say, so are those teams that will be duking it out in the championship game making themselves known? Two teams remain undefeated; zero teams are now without a win. There were shocks, spills and thrills a-plenty this week and this is the place to find out the details. Read on for your comprehensive review of Week 7.
Atlanta Swarm @ London Knights[event_results id=”7390″ align=”none”]
The weekend’s action kicked off at 6pm CT, Saturday night, in explosive style with the surging Atlanta Swarm grabbing a whirlwind victory over the free-falling London Knights. Atlanta wrapped up the a Season 10 sweep of the Knights, taking home the ‘dub’ with a score of 31-29. The narrow margin of victory indicates the similar ability of both teams, the tightness of the Eastern Conference and the ‘anyone’s game’ nature of the playoff race, with London starting the day at number 10 and Atlanta coming in at number 6.
So, other than one being 4-3 and the other holding a 3-4 record, what is the difference between the two teams? There’s not much for me to go on really, other than the fact that Atlanta have perennial top performer, BDG Hollewood on their team. Hollewood has been the Knights’ Achilles heel in both match ups this season, juking and spinning his way to well over 300 yards total and 5 touchdowns. He seems to have saved his biggest performances for the London Knights, this week powering into the endzone 3 times including a 77 yard scamper on the Swarm’s very first play. London clearly don’t have the speed on the back end to match Hollewood’s breakaway burst, a problem that most defences will face against him.
London will come out of this game with many a burning question fizzing in their minds. What happened to the run game in the second half? Why do we only show what our high-powered offense is capable of when it’s too late? Why did we choose to onside kick with well over a minute left, gifting Atlanta 3 points when our defense could have made a stop further down field? Having these questions shows that the Knights can take a lot of positives from Saturday’s cruel loss. Michael Martin looked good when the game was on the line; Spencer Mair is improving week on week (over 5 yards per carry and a touchdown this week); Jockamo Jones showed he can be one of the biggest deep threat receivers in the league, if given the chance (two late deep balls which ‘JJ’ took to the house during the London comeback showed that). London may be on the outside looking in at the playoff race now, but more performances like this will see them back in the hunt in no time.
This game was a spectacle. From the raucous opening where both offenses seemed unstoppable to the frantic finish with the Swarm desperately trying to hold on, viewers will have been glued to heir screens. It was a game worthy of primetime…A game worthy, of the SFL.
By Slinn Shady
St. Louis Gladiators @ Houston Hyenas[event_results id=”7747″ align=”none”]
What a crazy game as both of the teams were 3-3, so whatever team wins will have the winning record. Houston had a total of 439 yards while St. Louis had 402 total yards. Badr Ajlouni, named player of the game, had a great game with 82 yards and 3 tds.
Houston’s defense was able to stop them a couple of times to keep them at 21, but St. Louis weren’t able to stop the Hyenas. Houston were driving up the field a lot of the time as well as being in the red zone. St. Louis Gladiators were driving up in the 2nd quarter and then once in the 4th.
By Badr Ajlouni
Indianapolis Red Devils @ Sioux Falls Sparrows[event_results id=”7697″ align=”none”]
In a matchup that had playoff implications up and down the standings, Indianapolis and Sioux Falls showcased a little bit of everything that the SFL has to offer. While each team’s records didn’t indicate such, the Red Devils and Sparrows were evenly matched with Indy chosen as an underdog. The game would be defined by a wild period of play that would include a key injury to a star player, questionable coaching decisions and two defensive plays.
Through the first quarter, Sioux Falls and Indy were pretty evenly matched. The Sparrows were able to pull out to an early lead, showcasing their premiere offense as they nickel and dimed their way down the field for a TD. Indy was able to answer back with their own drive which showcased a much improved, and now key part of the offense, HB Matthew Mitchell but ultimately stalled with a FG. Then came the 3-minute series of events that would define the game.
With another Indy stop that was starting to give them some momentum, star WR Dan Daly fielded a kick and on a seemingly innocuous play, he went down writhing in noticeable pain. It would be an injury that would keep him out of the game with no targets and no receptions. With Daly missing, Indy was able to get into position for a late FG but the Indy coaching staff elected to push the envelope, electing to go for it on 4th down. This uncharacteristic move ended in failure and was immediately punished by a 60 yard Shaun Harrelson TD down the middle (who had ironically been injured in the matchup against Tulsa that proved vital). With the pressure on and with the next drive, QB Nathan Lee threw an ill-advised pass that was tipped by Sioux Falls and was scooped up by Safety AJ Levye. Indy would make the stop but not before the Sparrows were able to get 3 more points. From what should have been 3 points for Indy and heading to the second half down 13-14, they were now facing at a 24-10 deficit with one hand cut off.
The second half would end up showcasing the heart of the Red Devils and the composure under huge pressure by Sioux Falls. Indy seemingly came out of the half a bit more organized after being able to assess their new reality, particularly on the defensive side. Indy would go on to shut out the Sparrows for the half with a huge interception late in the 4th quarter with Sioux Falls threatening to ice it from the Indy 3 yard line. The Red Devils would then turn this into an 80-yard drive where QB Nathan Lee unapologetically went back to his remaining star WR Eli McCormack over and over again. On the final play, before the chance at a game tying 2 pt conversion, Lee was able to find Eli one more time for his second TD on the day. But the miracle story was for not as Matthew Mitchell was stopped on the 1-yard line as the Sparrows were able to make their final last defensive play of the game.
Both teams showcased guts when it mattered most and the ability to step up when needed. Sioux Falls will be proud of their performance, particularly with the play of WR Shaun Harrelson (6 rec 169yds 2 TDs). Indy will be left wondering what may have been. Falling 24-22 while handicapped for the majority of the game will feel like an undeserving loss, particularly against a key opponent in the division race.
By Steve Vetack
Oklahoma City Renegades @ Dallas Ruffnecks[event_results id=”7710″ align=”none”]
The Dallas Ruffnecks hosted the Oklahoma City Renegades in search of their first win of the season. The matchup turned out to be one of the better games in Week 7 as both teams battled all game while keeping the score close. There was a four point difference with three minutes left in the game, with seventeen points being scored in those final minutes. It also turned out to be some of the better performances from star players so far in their season.
The two MVPs of this game were Deacon Nickens and Mike Davis, both making huge impacts late in the 4th quarter to help their team win. Quarterback, Deacon Nickens, had the game of his life against the Ruffnecks on the road, throwing for 300+ yards and 3 touchdowns with no picks, as well as only 8 incompletions off 34 attempts. His best moment was when he took his team down field on a perfect drive; with under three minutes to go, down seven, he went a perfect 4-4, including a game tying touchdown strike.
Running back, Mike Davis, was the workhorse for this team and he absolutely helped get them their first win. He had 30 carries for a 105 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game winner with under a minute to go in the game. He also had 10 catches, which gives him an unbelievable 40 touches in the game.
Dallas stays home to host the division rival Alaska Storm, while the Renegades stay on the road and head down to Indianapolis to face the Red Devils. Good luck to all four teams this week and thanks for reading everyone. One love.
By Jeremy Vega
Chicago Wildcats @ Tulsa Desperados[event_results id=”8157″ align=”none”]
Carolina Skyhawks @ Mexico City Aztecs[event_results id=”7374″ align=”none”]
San Antonio Vaqueros @ Vancouver Legion[event_results id=”7689″ align=”none”]
The Vancouver Legion hosted the San Antonio Vaqueros for a Week 7 divisional matchup. This game had one of the more exciting endings in the SFL. Both teams had a great first half which was very closely contested and sent both teams into the locker room at 10-13 Vaqueros. The second half saw San Antonio start to pull away as their star running back and quarterback began to take over. Entering the fourth, the Vaqueros had built a ten point lead. With under two minutes to go, the legion held the Vaqueros out of the end zone and forced them to settle for a field goal, keeping the game within two scores. But what happened next was an SFL first, as The Legion Special Teams blocked the field goal and returned it for a touchdown. Down four, the Legion attempted an onside kick to give themselves one last chance but it was to no avail, and the Vaqueros took home the Victory.
The MVPs of this game have to go out to quarterback, Joey Langdon and running back, Anderson Silver. Joe Langdon had a great game, throwing for 3 touchdowns and nearly 300 yards and no picks. Anderson Silver had 14 carries as well as 17 receptions, which is insane. Those two players really helped secure a road victory for their team while they continue to their winning streak. An honorable mention will go to running back, Jonathan Sanchez of the Legion, for another workhorse performance as he had almost 200 yards rushing on the day.
The Legion will stay home for Week 8 as they host the San Francisco Sharks for battle #2 and the Vaqueros will head down to Houston to take on the Hyenas. Good luck to all four teams this week and as always thank you for the support of our Beat writers. One Love.
By Jeremy Vega
San Francisco Sharks @ Alaska Storm[event_results id=”7704″ align=”none”]
Another shocking defeat came around for the once unbeaten Alaska Storm, inflicted upon them by the rebounding San Francisco Sharks. The Sharks defense forced 5 interceptions, headlined by Merrick Itera snagging two of those. The Sharks’ offense was clicking on all gears as Luyindula hit 27 completions for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gabriel Manning, the speedy threat, caught 8 passes for 137 and 1 touchdown. The Storm really were slow on the offensive side despite Ron Cockren throwing for 334 yards. Optimus Cline was still on a high note, going for 9 catches and 115 yards. ‘Big Sexy’ managed to dominate as usual racking up 2.5 sacks.
Unfortunately for the Storm, they’re heading the wrong direction, after a brilliant start to the season. Meanwhile the Sharks have looked astonishing ever since the coaching changes as well as a few roster changes. While the Sharks are still out of the wildcard at 3-4, expect them to be a huge threat to other teams. Alaska will continue to dominate despite their 2 game skid.
By Mahmoud Ajlouni
Tallahassee Pride @ Queen City Corsairs[event_results id=”8164″ align=”none”]
Queen City showed the SFL how to beat the behemoth Tallahassee defense, giving the best showing this season with 33 points scored… Unfortunately, they forgot to slow down Christian Christiansen (26/38, 468 passing yards, 6 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions) and the Pride offense with it and were crushed” (Alex Bond, 2k18). In all seriousness, this well-fought game between Eastern Conference rivals proved to be one of the games of the year.
The Pride vertical offense found consistent room to work, with Ken Gossett absolutely taking advantage of the Corsairs’ generic corner to the tune of nearly 200 first half receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. After a slow start due to a swarming Tallahassee defense and two AJ Caswell (30/45, 300 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns) interceptions, Ash Odom (29 carries, 167 rushing yards, 10 catches, 42 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown) found room to run and kept the game very close through the first two frames. A last second deep ball in the second quarter from Christiansen to Gossett, however, put the Pride up 24-17 at the half.
The second half saw Queen City orient themselves more towards passing the ball and stopping Gossett, however, this lead to fellow phenom receiver, Duke Wilson (8 catches, 194 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns) getting several looks. In essence, Wilson tag teamed for Gossett, posting a hat trick of touchdowns of his own through the back two frames. The mighty Corsair offense simply could not keep up despite the four ‘Dub C’ turnovers (massive L) and a great performance from Chris Curtis (10 catches, 155 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns).
Built on the backs of Tallahassee Pride Players of the Week, WR Ken Gossett (9 catches, 218 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns) and DT Fats Johnson (5.5 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 tackle for loss), the Pride were able to grab their first win in Buffalo in a game that saw Tallahassee put a stranglehold on the Eastern Conference and put Queen City in sub-.500 position, which can have major implications on the wildcard race.
By Christian Pundt
A huge thank you and well done must come from myself to the fantastic team of SFL beat writers this week. The guys have had to adapt their style of writing to condense their reports, which is no easy task, however they stepped up to the plate manfully. Here’s to another brilliant week of reporting!