San Antonio Vaqueros @ Mexico City Aztecs
Both the Vaqueros and the Aztecs came into this game running on a high vein of form. San Antonio were looking like genuine contenders to challenge the Alaska Storm for the Western Conference title, and Mexico City had fully recovered to last season’s title-winning ways after an abject start to Season 10. Few thought that this game would be anything other than a tight battle of attrition. Even less predicted that a blowout would occur in the guise of a 41-14 victory for the ‘at home’ Aztecs. Mexico City demolished the Vaqueros in the second and third quarters, outscoring them 31-0 and sealing the season-long addage that the Eastern Conference is the toughest in the SFL. San Antonio gave up a suicidal 6 turnovers over the course of those quarters, including 1 pick six
London Knights @ Carolina Skyhawks
Entering Week 11 of the regular season, both teams’ playoff chances were either gone or about to be out of sight. London had been on a six game losing streak with Carolina going 1-5 in the same six week span. Both teams were looking for a win to try and put something together and build off of going into the off-season. Way back in Week 3, the London Knights defeated the Skyhawks 16-13 at home. With the Skyhawks playing their last home game of the season, they really wanted to come out strong and beat a good team that was just down on their luck.
The Skyhawks kept the ball on the ground for most of three quarters as halfback, A.J. Francis, totalled 43 carries for 223 yards and three touchdowns; a monster performance that went along with a fantastic defensive performance that bottled the Knights up all day as they only managed three field goals.
With the start of the 4th quarter, The London Knights made a fantastic push at a comeback and to salvage their season for one more week. With a Knights field goal early in the 4th and after a defensive stop late in fourth, Jeffery Daggs returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown to bring the Knights within nine. With nearly four minutes left in the game, quarterback Mike Martin connected with top receiver Jockamo Jones for a long touchdown to make it a two point game. With London unable to stop the Skyhawks rushing attack, the hawks ran away the last few minutes of the game to secure a win in their final home game.
With the Knights’ losing streak dropping to seven in a row, they will head home for their home finale against the Queen City Corsairs who are looking to improve their playoff seed. The Skyhawks will go on the road to Tallahassee where the pride will look to complete a perfect regular season.
Good luck to all four teams and thank you as always.
Vancouver Legion @ Dallas Ruffnecks
The Vancouver Legion (4-6) were coming in to Dallas in hopes to solidify their playoff aspirations. The Dallas Ruffnecks (1-9) unable to play spoiler last week against San Antonio were hoping to accomplish that role against Vancouver.
The first drive of the game for Dallas ended quickly with nothing really threatening the Vancouver defense. Vancouver’s first drive ended similarly, but Dallas had other plans on the the punt. Vancouver snapped the ball for the punt and began a wild series of events, Dallas partially blocked the punt and dropped it around the 50 yard line; a member of the Dallas special teams tried to jump on the ball but wound up popping the ball out into open field, where it was picked up by another member of the Dallas unit and ran back to almost the 30 yard line of Vancouver. A few plays later Dallas found themselves on the goalline and a hand off to Mike Davis, who broke a tackle en route, churned their way into the endzone for the games first score. On Dallas’ next drive they drove down the field. Unfortunately they were stalled at the goalline by the Vancouver defense and had to settle for a field goal, going up 10-0. The following drive by Vancouver found them driving down to midfield, a pass to the Non-Contract FB was bobbled and wound up in the hands of Heath McDaniel II for a interception. Vancouver’s defense trotted onto the field, trying to get their offense right back onto the field. Mahmoud Ajlouni was able to do just that, stepping in front of Dallas receiver James Hands and taking the ball back for his offense. Tom Pepper was determined to not let the defensive stand go to waste, slinging the ball all over the field to several different receivers, he lead his offense down the field where a short 2 yard run from their bell cow back; who, in an attempt to not be shown up by Mike Davis broke a tackle of his own, put them into the endzone, pulling them within 3 points, 10-7. The remainder of the 1st half whittled down with the teams trading punts back and forth until the final minute, where Dallas created a turnover and drove down the field and kicked a field goal to put them up 13-7. The 3rd quarter came and both offenses seemed to have stayed in their lockers rooms, trading punts back and forth until a little over a minute left in the quarter when a pass from Pepper was intercepted by Dallas safety Troy Loshaw and set up Dallas with excellent field position around the Vancouver 30 yard line. Dallas was unfortunately unable to capitalize on the field position and had to settle for another field goal, upping the score to 16-7 Dallas. On Vancouver’s first drive of the 4th quarter Pepper was intercepted once again by Troy Loshaw. Once again Vancouver’s defense took the field looking to get the ball back for their offense, and once again, Mahmoud Ajlouni took charge of a pass across the middle and gave the ball back to his offense. With the interception setting them up on Dallas’ side of midfield, Vancouver looked to get themselves back into the game with a touchdown, but had to settle for a field goal and pull themselves to 16-10 and hope their defense could hold up once more to give them a shot at taking the lead with 7:30 left in the game. While Vancouver’s defense couldn’t take the ball back for their offense once again they did manage to keep Dallas to a field goal, but the field put the game back into a two possession game at 19-10. Vancouver got the ball at their own 35 yard line, the first play from scrimmage was a deep pass over the middle to Brett Killian. Killian beat the entire Dallas secondary and looked like he was assuredly getting himself into the endzone, but a sprinting Kody Hill tracked Killian down at the 11 yard line and for the time being saved Dallas’ lead. A few plays later however, Pepper found his receiver Jeremy Vega in the back of the end zone for a huge touchdown, keeping Vancouver in the game, 19-17, with 2:30 remaining in the game. On onside kick by Vancouver was recovered by Dallas. Dallas, wanting to ice the game came out throwing, a deep ball to Sneakers Alamo put them down to the 1 foot line of Vancouver, where a run from Mike Davis pounded it in; making the score 25-17. Vancouver next drive had them trying to streak down the field quickly while trying to conserve time while being down 2 possessions once more. Pepper played smart football with his passes and drove his team down the field, winding up at the Dallas 16 yard line with under a minute left to play. Unable to score a touchdown on this drive, Vancouver settled for a field goal and a one possession game, 26-20. Another onside kick attempt was recovered by Dallas and this time it iced the game as Dallas came out in the victory formation to run the clock down. Dallas coming out on top and playing their spoiler role perfectly, 26-20.
Next week sees the Houston Hyenas coming into Dallas to take on the Ruffnecks, where Dallas will try to play a different kind of spoiler role and keep Houston from having a chance at taking the #2 seed in the Western Conference. The Vancouver Legion head back home to host the Alaska Storm, a win for Vancouver would definitely help their chances at making the playoffs but they are still going to need some outside help, needing Atlanta to lose and St. Louis to win their respective games.
PoTG: Dallas RB Mike Davis – 29 carries for 78 yards and 2 TD’s, 2.7 YPC
Honourable Mention: Vancouver RB Jonathan Sanchez – 14 carries for 93 yards and 1 TD, 6.6 YPC
by Ryan Michaels
Tallahassee Pride @ Atlanta Swarm
Tulsa Desperados @ St. Louis Gladiators
Tulsa has dropped 3 straight after a undefeated start to the season. They were outplayed by the lowly St. Louis Gladiators 30-28. Charles Ball who was once the hot DROY/DPOY front runner has fallen down as he has failed to record an interception since February 11th. Their offense seems to start slow and derails them from the explosive starts they were accustomed to. After holding a solid division lead, they are now tied with Sioux Falls at 8-3 heading into the final week of the season.With a Sioux Falls win, Tulsa would lose the division after what seemed like a sure control of it.
The Gladiators Offense shredded this stingy defense, Aciel throwing for 308 yards and a touchdown as well as an interception. Denzel Diaz had 19 carries for 75 yards to go with a touchdown. Their defense did a great job of containing the Tulsa offense. They held future HoF Dion Hawkins to 67 yards on 24 carries but managed to sneak into the endzone twice. Sonzo Robinson and Khoury Jones both surpassing 90 yards receiving helped carry the offense but was too little against the Gladiators.
Coming near playoff time, this is a bad time for the Desperados to hit a slump. With hot teams entering the race, teams have to be at full force otherwise they can be in for a rude awakening come playoff time regardless of the seeding. Tulsa has a daunting task ahead of them as they travel to Indianapolis to take on the Red Devils who are trying to secure their ticket to the playoffs. Meanwhile the Gladiators head down south to Oklahoma City to take on the Renegades who are trying to get in the playoff picture themselves. This game is crucial for the Renegades as a loss here will officially knock them out the playoffs.
By Mahmoud Ajlouni
Chicago Wildcats @ Oklahoma City Renegades
OKC versus Chicago Recap for Week 11
For these two teams, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Previous season runner up, The Chicago Wildcats looks to avoid playoff elimination in a must win scenario for both teams, as they face the Oklahoma City Renegades in the Robber’s Den. The Renegades came off of a huge win against their in state rival Desperadoes in a game that has seen that team slide as of late. They looked to have the same success in this game. What was to come what nothing reminiscent of the previous game with Tulsa as the neither team could avoid the punt bug. Being sick with the Punt virus, the running backs for both teams could do nothing, and the OKC QB Nickens couldn’t complete a pass in the first quarter! Chicago drove down the field thanks to catches from Varner and Zellie which put the ball on the 9, yet stalling on the 4 for a 4th down Field Goal. After one quarter, it was only 3 to nothing. The Defense stood tall for OKC with sacks from Damon Myslinski and Deacon Payne, who recorded 2 in the first half. Nickens found himself later in the 2nd with completions to Deezer Powell with a Field Goal to tie the game at 3. A missing person’s report was filled for Donk Bonkers later in the 2nd quarter as he ended the half with negative 2 yards. With J. Calvin Kim trying to show what a running back can do, he was able to aid his buddy Reid and other buddy Gilbert by getting them in the red zone.
J. Calvin“Kline” scored from half a yard out to take a 10 to 3 lead with the half ending there. Noteworthy interception by Kanye Rackafella with a drive killing pick for Chicago.
After finding Donk Bonkers in a local bar, he suited up and came out blazing with a 49 yard run from scrimmage to set up a 2nd play pass TD from Nickens to Tibeerius “Don’t call me cow” Bovine for the score on a beautiful post route in the end zone. Tied at 10, Mandrake shows up with a sack, making the Chicago Wildcats play the field position game. Nickens takes the ball and goes deep to Jalen Hurt, then later to Deezer Powell who scored his first passing touchdown on the game on a 38 yard catch deep. He wasn’t done, believe me folks. Don’t go anywhere! Up 17 to 10, OKC then kicked off the Davius Reid who showed himself to be legendary today, returning a kickoff to the house. That return was his 4th Kickoff return for a touchdown this season, and his 5th touchdown on special teams. Tied at 17, OKC would get the ball back and Nickens would throw another deep pass to Powell on a double move to beat his man. After breaking two tackles, Deezer scored on a 67 yard catch and run. After that, E.T. King wanted to phone home, because he threw his 2nd interception of the day. The first to Brady Clark in the first half and this one to the “King”, non-contract stud Elvis Shumacker. Deezer Powell found the end zone again after an out route connection on a flagged offsides for Chicago, which was overturned due to the score. Deezer ended the day with 184 yards and the 3 TD’s.
Middle of the way in the 4th, things started to look dim for Chicago. Down 31 to 20 at this point, they just couldn’t move the ball anymore as Kim was apparently highjacked by Renegades fans and forced to watch old reruns of Friends. Not even the good episodes either. Donk Bonkers, fresh off his resurrection of a dead first half, moved the ball time and again, scoring on a 53 yard breakaway from scrimmage, which amped up the score to 38 to 20, OKC. With under 6 minutes left, neither team could drive and OKC punted for the first time all half. This time to that very dangerous man, Davius Reid. On the return, Reid took the ball, made a move, hit the lane and was gone for the 2nd time in the game. That would be his 3rd game of the season where he scored 2 special teams touchdowns in a single game. Reid would move to 4 Kickoff return and 2 punts return touchdowns for the season. The game would end with a Field Goal off of a stalled OKC drive while killing the clock, making the final score a 41 to 27 thrashing. Chicago is definitely disappointed at the season that was not to be, after coming so close last year in the Championship game. OKC still has breath as the last week of the season draws near. But within the shadows whispers a far to familiar voice. The deep voice echoes as a massive body stands in the blackened halls of the arena. The voice calls out, “Remember me, Nickens?” To Be Continued…
San Francisco Sharks @ Houston Hyenas
The San Francisco Sharks, one of the league’s hottest teams in recent weeks, came into Houston to take on the Hyenas and help make their case to get in the playoffs. Houston came into the game having lost their previous two games and were on the verge of seeing their playoffs hopes slip through their fingers. A win here for Houston put them assuredly into the playoffs. A win for San Francisco put them right into the thick of the fight for one of the remaining wildcards spots.
The opening drive of the game belonged to the Sharks, who went 3 and out. Houston’s first drive started at their own 30, however one play into the drive and they were already at the San Francisco 41 after a deep pass over the middle to D.R. Sim from Ahmed Cheema. 2 plays later the Hyenas found themselves at the Sharks 8 yard line after another deep pass over the middle, this time to Badr Ajlouni. A handoff to feature back Warren Murray found the end zone and put the Hyena’s up, 7-0. The Sharks looked to even the score on the their following drive, but were unable to get anything moving against the Hyenas and had to punt the ball back to Houston. This time the San Francisco defense came to life and held Houston in check, leading to a punt. The Sharks wasted no time, 2 plays into the drive, Jacques Luyindula hit tight end Matt Burnham across the middle, where he made a man miss and outran the rest of the Hyenas defense to get himself his first career touchdown and bring the score even at 7-7. Houston, however, wasn’t going to let the score stay tied for long. After a deep pass to Ajlouni was defended nicely by Merrick Itera, Ahmed Cheema tested the other corner on a deep corner route to D.R. Sim where it was hauled and Sim screamed down the field and into the endzone with a 74 yard touchdown, putting the Hyenas back up 14-7. After a Sharks punt, the Hyenas started again at their own 30 yard line and this time another career first would happen for another San Francisco Sharks player as Martie Mcree stepped in front of a pass intended for D.R. Sim for his first career interception. San Francisco’s offense however was unable to turn the turnover into points and had to punt after being unable to gather a first down. The 2nd quarter started with fireworks for the Houston Hyenas as Cheema hit D.R. Sim once again and Sim took the ball and jetted his way into the endzone for his 2nd touchdown of the first half, a 51 yard catch and run, to put Houston up further 21-7. The Sharks defense, tired from constantly being on the field, seemed to be on the verge of giving up more points on Houston’s next drive, but Merrick Itera had other ideas as he went over the top of Badr Ajlouni and took the ball back for the Sharks on a pass headed for their goalline. San Francisco’s offense came onto the field looking to try and pull themselves back into this game. Houston’s defense, having been stout for most of the first half, came onto the field determined to keep the Sharks offense in check. After a deep ball to Manning was knocked down by Tyleek Jones, Luyindula sent Manning out wide left, hoping to get his man some room to work. An attempted quick hitting out route to Manning proved to be costly as Ryan Michaels jumped in front of the pass and picked it out of the air and outran a trailing Gabriel Manning to the endzone for his 2nd pick six of the year. San Francisco’s offense came back onto the field looking at a 28-7 deficit and a game that was quickly getting out of hand. Putting the last drive behind them, the Sharks drove down the field to the 50 where a corner route finally found its target, over the top of Ryan Michaels, and Manning cruised into the endzone without a defender near him, bringing new life to the Sharks, 28-14. Houston came out for the next drive looking to answer the Shark’s touchdown and quell the energy gathered from their last drive. A deep corner to D.R. Sim put the Hyenas into San Francisco territory, where Cheema dropped back and dropped a beautiful pass to Badr Ajlouni on an out route; who scorched the Sharks defense for a touchdown of his own and putting the Hyenas back up by 21 points, 35-14, with 2 minutes left in the first half. Houston got the ball back on a deep interception by safety Blake Chance and looked to be well in control of the game in the first half. The Sharks defense wouldn’t be outdone though as Camden Hoffman came down with a tip drill at midfield and would not be stopped on his way to the endzone for a pick six of his own, bringing the game to 21-35 Houston. After the way the first half played out for both teams, everyone expected an explosive performance from both offenses in the second half. A second interception by the Merrick Itera gave the Sharks great field position around midfield but the offense was unable to do anything with it, resulting in another punt. The first play of the following drive for Houston though proved costly as Cheema threw a pass towards D.R. Sim and Sharks safety Martie Mcree climbed the ladder to snatch the pass out of the air, for his 2nd interception of the game, and had open field in front of him. He weaved his way through blocks and was able to stretch the ball over the goal line and give the Sharks their 2nd defensive touchdown of the game and a 7 point deficit, 35-28. After the Sharks second pick six of the game, both defense’s tightened up and the game’s scoring came to a screeching halt, both teams trading punts back and forth until late into the 4th quarter; where San Francisco took over on a drive at the 2 minute warning and looking to even the score and a chance to go into overtime. A sack on first down by Chad Takkul put the Sharks into a 2nd and 18. A dropped pass by the non-contract running back Max Maximus put them into a huge 3rd and 18, but an absolute dime of a pass by Jacques Luyindula to a diving Django Anoa’i at midfield gave the Sharks life once again. After a dump off to Maximus put San Francisco at 2nd and 7, Chad Takkul once again reared his head and ‘Big Freaky’ threw Luyindula to the ground for his 5th sack of the game and put them into a 3rd and 16. A pass knocked down by Tyleek Jones brought a crucial 4th and 16. Luyindula tried his luck on a deep pass to Manning over the left side but Ryan Michaels read it the whole way and took the ball away for his 2nd interception of the game and icing the game for the Hyenas. Final score: 35-28 Houston over San Francisco.
PoTG: Houston wide receiver D.R. Sim – 6 receptions for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns
Honourable Mention(s): SF DB’s, Merrick Itera, Martie Mcree and Camden Hoffman, combining for 5 INT’s and 2 TD’s.
HOU CB Ryan Michaels with 4 PD’s and 2 INT’s and a touchdown and HOU DT Chad Takkul with 7 tackles (All for loss) and 5.5 sacks.
By Ryan Michaels
Queen City Corsairs @ Alaska Storm
Voted SFL Fan Night Game of the Week, the Queen City Corsairs (6-4) traveled to play the Alaska Storm (8-2). The Storm were riding a three-game win streak with an opportunity to secure 1st place in the Western Conference with a win over Queen City. Meanwhile, with the Eastern Conference so jumbled behind undefeated Tallahassee, the Corsairs needed a win to secure a spot in the playoffs after beating London last week.
The game turned out to be quite the thriller, although the first half wouldn’t have told you that. After a dismal performance by the Corsairs on both sides of the ball in the first half, they got heated up after some halftime adjustments and made a game of it. A fourth quarter Nacho Sicario pick six brought the QCC score to 24, just three below Alaska’s 27. Alaska drove downfield quickly, however, despite Queen City’s best attempts. Fortunately for Queen City, Phoenix Blue intercepted the ball on the goalline. QCC QB AJ Caswell would turn the ball over and allow Alaska to score again on an Optimus Cline touchdown to bring the score to 34-24. On the back of Ash Odom, who was playing his old team, the Corsairs drove downfield and scored with just over five minutes to play, bringing the score to 34-31. A three-and-out by Alaska gave Caswell and the Corsairs the ball back with a chance to punch it in to win. Despite their best attempts, the Corsairs failed to get the ball into the endzone and fell 34-31.
QCC QB AJ Caswell was 21 of 32 for 270 YDS, with 2 TDS and 3 INTS. He was sacked twice. RB Ash Odom, who was a league MVP candidate for the Storm last season, rushed 26 times for 153 YDS (5.9 AVG) and 1 TD, with a long of 29 YDS. TE Mike Daggs caught 5 balls for 96 YDS and 1 TD, including a 63 yards catch-and-run between two defenders. LB Avry King had 11 tackles and 1 TFL. Phoenix Blue and Nacho Sicario added picks on defense, with Sicairo taking his 63 yards to the house. The Corsairs (6-5) travel to the London Knights (3-8) next week, who they beat last week handedly. It may be a “win-and-in” scenario.
ALK QB Ron Cockren was 36 of 45 for 442 YDS, with 4 TDS and 3 INTS. WR Optimus Cline caught 10 balls for 158 YDS and 3 TDS, more scores than he’s had all season. TE Yasin Clifton had a breakout game, catching 10 passes for 152 YDS. Tony WIllis had 9 tackles with 1 INT, while Ryan Tobin had 8 tackles and 1 INT. Ryan Davidson added his own pick of Caswell. K Brad Brechette went 3 of 3 on the night with a long of 50 yards. The Storm (9-2) travel to face the Vancouver Legion (4-7) in a game that doesn’t mean much to Alaska, but will be important in keeping their momentum going.
By Zane Doty
Sioux Falls @ Indianapolis Red Devils
The rematch between Sioux Falls and Indianapolis was a long time coming for the Red Devils. In their previous match top WR Dan Daly left the game with a game ending injury early which handicapped the offense causing chaos in the depth chart. The end result was a 22-24 loss that felt underserved. This time around the Red Devils were able to play with a fully healthy team with an added sense of urgency and determination.
Looking at a tough uphill path to the playoffs HC James Richards and his Red Devils came out with an aggressive game plan particularly on the defensive side. At home in front of 73,001 it was time to put up or shut up.
The talented but young secondary played with intensity and a veteran’s laser focus on the task. If Indy was to overcome their underdog status they needed to tip the scales on two key areas which they had struggled with all year and had been contributing to several losses. Opposing third down percentage and time of possession. On the season Indy was allowing just above 50% success on 3rd down. This then resulted in the opposing team to control the clock and limit the impact of their big play offense. This time around the story was much different.
QB Julian Tyree had been very responsible with the ball in the last couple of weeks. At Indy that script flipped as he threw 4 interceptions to 4 different Red Devils (Blake, S Vetack, M Vetack, Connolley) with the final INT being a game sealing pick six by CB Mike Vetack.
When Tyree wasn’t throwing picks the Sioux Falls offense were making a habit of punting. On the day they were only able to convert 4 of 13 3rd downs for 30%. LB Thad Castle and FS Paul Blake came up with stop after stop on short yardage. These two dynamic playmakers combined for 15 tackles, 2 for losses and 1 interception. The Indy offense was able to turn those stops into a 25:10 to 18:43 time of possession advantage.
HB Matthew Mitchell ground the Sparrows down with 127 yards on the ground. Eli McCormick caught his 12th TD but it was the non-contract players or as the Indy faithful have affectionately coined them, The No-Names, that made the difference in the point column. FB Frank “The Punisher” Castle caught an unlikely redzone TD pass form Lee for the 1st TD. Third WR Church caught the second for The No-Names. The icing on the cake was applied when backup safety Boss Franklin picked up the second Sioux Falls onside kick and returned it for a very unlikely TD return. They don’t play for glory and are happy to see Lee, Daly and Eli have the glory week in and week out as long as they get the win but this week they were the ones basking in the glow of victory.
When Indy needed a big win they were able to dictate pace, control possession and convert on their opportunities. Sioux Falls saw a very different Indianapolis team this time around and should value their previous 22-24 victory in Week 7 a little higher.
By Steve Vetack
Thanks again SFL Nation!