The SFL’s first ever Wildcard Wednesday went out with a bang this week, and this is where you can get the comprehensive run down…
Indianapolis Red Devils @ San Antonio Vaqueros
With the regular season of the 10th Season of the Simulation Football League finished, the league headed into its first playoff game with a Wildcard matchup between the Indianapolis Red Devils visiting against the San Antonio Vaqueros.
The games scoring started after the initial drives by both teams didn’t yield much for either offense, Indy quarterback Nathan Lee dropped back to pass from the San Antonio 32 yard line and lofted a deep pass down the right side. Wide receiver Eli McCormick found his way behind the defense, catching the pass just behind the safety and rumbling into the end zone as he was tackled. San Antonio would attempt to answer back as they drove down to inside the Indy 10 yard line, but a dropped pass by running back Anderson Silver wound up in the hands of Indianapolis safety Paul Connolly, and after a challenge by San Antonio had the ruling upheld, gave the Red Devils the ball at their own 8 yard line. After the interception for Indy, they drove down the field to the San Antonio 34 yard line. A deep pass over the middle found another receiver who snuck behind the defense, this time Dan Daly hauled in the pass just infront of the Vaqueros goalline and strolled into the endzone for the Red Devils 2nd touchdown of the first quarter; puting Indy up 14-0 with 2:08 left in the first quarter. The Red Devils got another drive before the end of the first quarter and looked poised to score a third touchdown in the quarter, but a deep pass by Nathan Lee lead his intended target a little to much and Vaqueros safety Tom Taylor found himself in position to intercept the pass as it went by Dan Daly. The Vaqueros would take the ball off the turnover and orchestrate a long, time consuming drive as it was able to culminate in points in the form of a field goal from kicker Austin Powers; 14-3. The ensuing drive by Indianapolis worked down the field to the Vaqueros 1 yard line, where a run up the gut by Matthew Mitchell resulted in a touchdown and a Indianapolis lead being extended, 21-3. San Antonio looked like they wouldn’t be able to answer the Indianapolis touchdown but a big defensive pass interference called on Red Devil linebacker, Thad Castle gave the Vaqueros a first down. With new life on the drive, the Vaqueros wouldn’t let it go to waste, driving their way down the field and attempting to float a pass into the back corner of the end zone, but it was knocked away nicely by Indianapolis cornerback Steve Vetack; resulting in another field goal for Austin Powers and a 21-6 score with 1:01 left in the 1st half. A hail mary on the last play of the first half ended in an interception in the endzone, as the pass was intercepted non-contract player Benjamin Rudy. The 3rd quarter ran mostly quiet for both offenses until around 2 minutes left in the quarter when Nathan Lee hit Eli McCormick with a threaded needle of a pass in the middle of the Vaqueros defense for a touchdown and extending the lead out more, 28-6. Heading into the 4th quarter the Vaqueros tried once more to answer the Red Devils points but had to settle for another field goal from inside the Indianapolis 10 yard line; 28-9. After a punt by the Red Devils, San Antonio once again had to settle for a field goal, slowly bringing themselves closer to the Red Devils, 28-12. San Antonio would get another shot at drawing closer to Indianapolis and would let it go to waste this time; quarterback Josh Miller hit wide receiver Logan Keel on an out route from the Red Devil 3 yard line for a touchdown. A 2 point conversion attempt failed as a pass from Miller was caught but out of the back of the end zone. The ensuing onside kick was tipped between the two teams and eventually pounced on by the Red Devils. Indianapolis ran 3 straight run plays to eat up some clock and all 3 San Antonio timeouts, giving the Vaqueros a tough uphill climb to come back into this game while being down 28-18. Unfortunately for San Antonio they weren’t able to put together enough plays to punch into the end zone and give them another shot at an onsides kick. The final score of the game 28-18.
PoTG: Ind WR Eli McCormick – 10 receptions for 168 yards and 2 TD’s
Honourable Mention: Sav WR Daley Holder – 10 receptions for 197 yards
By Ryan Michaels
Oklahoma City Renegades @ Mexico City Aztecs
After winning their last two games against Chicago and St. Louis to make the playoff’s tenth seed, the Renegades faced the Season 9 champs to try to upset them early in this Wild Card Wednesday. Oklahoma was up against a wall on the road, only winning the one of 18 games on their travels, and with the Aztecs winning the last 3 meetings between them.
Mexico City started off the game with the ball and showed OKC what they would be facing early and often. Big number 27, Ray Bentley, started off the game early with driving runs, setting up passes from Matt Willson to Dijon Swann and Richard Montague for completions, and a Goal Line TD for Bentley. OKC had trouble getting out of the gates as if they were leashed to them. A Moises Avila sack set up a punt, which led to Mexico City driving. Matt Willson made something out of nothing as he avoided a sack for a 2 yard gain, then let Bentley drive most of the way, causing havoc like a bull in a china closet. Matt Willson later threw a touchdown to somebody, as even Cameron Irvine couldn’t figure out who caught it. (If he couldn’t figure it out, nobody could.)
The 2nd quarter was just the same as OKC couldn’t do anything other than give Deezer Powell a single 30 yard pass catch. After 2 Kole Varner Field Goals, the score was 20 to nothing at the end of the half!
With Hurt, Bovine, and Bonkers not really doing much for the team, due to a stingy defense, Deacon Nickens found it difficult to do anything good as he then threw a pass which was tipped and picked off by Fran Ogawa. Thankfully, the Renegades began to show some life, as they began to stop Bentley, who already had 166 yards in just the first half alone! Yet, OKC began to limit what Mexico City could do, but their offense wasn’t helping them out much either. After stopping the Aztecs at the goal line, after Bentley runs and a Montague catch, Kole Varner hit another field goal from 19 to make the score 23 to nothing. Nickens and Bonkers had clearly had enough of this, and began doing something about it.
In the 4th quarter, Nickens hit Bush a number of times and, with the help of a pass interference on an otherwise stellar performance by Garcia for the Aztecs, the Renegades continued their drive. Bonkers then got them to the goal line and finished it off on the next hand off for the first score all game in the middle of the 4th quarter. Late in the game, Ray Bentley hit the 200 yard mark for the 2nd straight playoff game in a row as well as bruising every single defender on his way to the massive yardage mark. Kole Varner then hit another field goal, this from 50. Varner would hit 4 of his 5 Field Goals in this game, as OKC got the ball back on a rare punt from the Aztecs, later on. Nickens did what Nickens had done all year and bombed a beautiful pass to Steven Bush, who was against the 2nd string team, beating them for 6. With the score 26 to 14, the Aztecs came barreling back. Kole Varner attempted his fifth Field Goal, which was barely blocked, landing only about 5 to 10 yards shy of the uprights. With one last shot, OKC drove with a good catch by Hurt, only to see disaster happen. An errand pass ended their day as Pablo Zamora got in front of the intended target for a pick, which would end the game for the Renegades.
If anything, the Renegades can know that they have a great offense with some great talent on both sides of the ball. With that said, the Mexico City Aztecs will move on to the next round against the number 2 team in the league, the Alaska Storm. What will win over in Alaska, the air attack of the Storm, or the big and meaty shoulders of Ray Bentley?Tune in to find out!!!
By Justin McCormick
Stay tuned for more next week from the beat team; the recap of the SFL Quarterfinals!