By Jeremy Vega
The Semi-Finals opened up with a bang this weekend, with all four games being very competitive and successful. The Houston Hyenas vs Tulsa Desperados was no different as there were big plays, great runs, and lots of big hits. This was the first meeting for these two franchises and what better stage to play on for the first time then in the playoffs. Former offensive coordinator for the Hyenas, Dion Hawkins faced off against his former owner D.R. Sim. The ‘Teacher’ versus the ‘Student’ if you will, and the teacher won as the Hyenas defeated the Desperados 44-24.
Throughout the first quarter, the Houston defense smothered Tulsa, not allowing them to move the ball effectively and forcing turnovers. On the other side of the ball, the Hyenas offense was clicking through the air and on third downs, allowing them to extend drives and get into scoring range. Houston had to settle for a field goal on one drive, but managed to score a touchdown off an incredible catch from wide receiver, Badr Ajlouni, ensuring the score sat at 10-0 going into the second quarter.
Early in the second, quarterback, Sir Charles Robinson threw an amazing pass to wide receiver, Sonzo Robinson on a 3rd and 21 to pick up the first and set up Dion Hawkins to score from five yards out. Both rushing attacks started to pick up and runningback Warren Murray helped lead a drive that ended with him walking in for a touchdown and extending the lead to 17-7. With 2 minutes left in the half, both teams managed to put together big plays. Badr Ajlouni had a 50 yard receiving touchdown and wide receiver, Khoury Jones for Tulsa, had a 57 yard reception that gave Tulsa great field position, but Sir Charles threw a pick the very next play to close the half.
Entering the 3rd quarter, the score sat at 24-10. On the opening kick off, Tulsa forced a fumble and recovered, giving them great field position and much needed help. A shovel pass to Dion Hawkins for a touchdown from seven yards out brought the game to within one score: 24-17. With the run game for both teams getting stronger, Dion Hawkins unfortunately fumbled after leading the team into Houston territory. Capitalizing off the turnover, Warren Murray had a huge 47 yard run, breaking four tackles as he ran down the sideline. It set up a touchdown pass to wide receiver, Garren Malone, pushing the score to 34-17. Late into the 3rd, Sir Charles threw his fourth interception, killing yet another drive for Tulsa.
Entering the 4th quarter, Houston switched gears into killing the clock mode and playing defense. As the teams exchanged punts for most of the fourth, Sir Robinson threw his fifth interception and all but sealed the game for Houston as it was turned into a touchdown from D.R. Sim. With a garbage time touchdown from Tulsa making the score 44-24, Sir Robinson threw yet another interception in a last ditch effort to put points on the board.
The final score may not indicate a great game, but it was hard fought by both teams as they both made spectacular plays. My game MVP for Houston is the entire defense, forcing seven turnovers and a lot of sacks. My Tulsa MVP is Dion Hawkins, as he made big plays in what could be his last game ever played in the SFL. I wish the Desperados good luck in the off-season and I wish the Houston Hyenas good luck as they travel to Tallahassee to take on the undefeated Pride for a chance to go to the SFL Championship game.