By Various Writers

New Orleans Pharaohs @ St. Louis Gladiators                                                              By Rob Roby

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First Half                                                        The New Orleans Pharaohs and St. Louis Gladiators clashed in Week 2 of Season 11 of the SFL. Hosted by SFL Commissioner, Cameron Irvine and Steve Mullenax, the inaugural ‘Friday Night Lights‘ game started out with lots of league suspense surrounding the number one overall draft pick, Xander Gold. After an Overtime loss to the Alaska Storm in Week 1 of Pre-Season, the rookie was ready to get back onto the field and compete in his first Regular Season game. The 1st quarter started off really slow for both teams. It was a back and forth contestation for field position, which saw St. Louis grinding to a compelling 17-0 lead. The well-dressed running back, Denzel Diaz, was very active in St. Louis’s offensive assault. Backing up his workhorse, quarterback Dylan Aciel was able to spread the ball around very well against a Pharaohs defense that just didn’t show up early in the game. In the 2nd quarter, Gold brought New Orleans back by outscoring St. Louis, 14-3, making it a 20-14 game at the half.

Second Half                                                  New Orleans desperately tried to get tailback threat,Donk Bonkers involved in the passing game early in the second half. That attempt was subdued by the tenacious St. Louis defense. Running back Diaz stretched the lead to 27-14 on a 30-yard reception at the midway point of the 3rd quarter – Diaz ended a good day with 101 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns. Gold’s rookie debut was further stifled late in the game, partly due to his inability to connect with his receivers during clutch situations. The other part of Gold’s anguish was due to the stingy St. Louis secondary led by cornerback, Colin Douglas. Douglas had 2 interceptions, 4 pass deflections, and a tackle for a loss. Gold ended his day with 169 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and a whopping 5 interceptions while Aciel ended the day with 191 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

New Orleans, after a Week 1 bye, starts off its season 0-1 after losing to St. Louis, 27-14. They will host Oklahoma City in Week 3. St. Louis improves to 1-1; they will host the red-hot Tom Pepper and Indianapolis Red Devils in Week 3.

Carolina Skyhawks @ San Francisco Sharks   By AJ Francis

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First Half

In a game where an uneven score was predicted, this game proved to be one of the most exciting of Season 11 thus far. San Francisco came out in the first half and surprised many of the viewers. The Sharks were moving the ball through short passes and 5-6 yard runs that consistently got them first downs and chewed up the clock. They were up 10-0 only 15 minutes into the game, courtesy of a field goal and an Ahmed Cheema touchdown pass. Momentum switched soon after, as Trystan Hatley intercepted Cheema to prevent another score. The Skyhawks responded with a field goal of their own and a few drives later, a 60-yard touchdown pass from Jaxques Luyindula to Jalan Miller with 52 seconds left on the clock in the half. Although The game was a tie and consitently back and forth, The Sharks possessed the ball for 9 more minutes then the Skyhawks. They just couldn’t take advantage.

Second Half

Halfway into the third quarter, the Sharks found themselves back up on top after an Ogun Zulu touchdown run. The Skyhawks wasted no time in responding right back, as the next drive resulted in another 60-yard touchdown pass to Jalan Miller to tie the game at 17. Into the 4th quarter, the Sharks started a drive to potentially take the lead, but Cheema threw another interception to Trystan Hatley that was returned into field goal range for the Skyhawks. Carolina capitalized on this good field position and kicked a field goal to take the lead by 3. Two drives later, the Sharks efficiently moved up the field to get into field goal range and they tied the game up with only 55 seconds left on the game clock. The Skyhawks were able to move the ball at first, but once they reached around midfield it looked like the game would be going into overtime after two errant throws almost resulted in interceptions. But, on 3rd down, with 8 seconds left, Luyindula found Jalan Miller yet again in the right corner and he got the team down to the 17-yard line to set up a game winning field goal attempt. As time expired, kicker, Ezekiel Cline, kicked a 33-yard field goal straight down the middle to bring the Skyhawks to a 23-20 win.

Tulsa Desperados @ Oklahoma City Renegades                                                            By J W Doyle

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Tulsa versus Oklahoma City was an interesting matchup on paper. Oklahoma City started off Week 1 with a win and was looking for another quality win in their conference. Renegades quarterback, Deacon Nickens, threw for 318 passing yards and 3 touchdowns and no interceptions for an outstanding performance. Rookie runningback, JW Doyle found the end zone once and helped relieve pressure off Nickens by adding 89 yards on the ground. Fellow rookie receiver, Hunter Jones finished with 46 receiving yards and a touchdown on just 3 catches. But the breakout performance by Deezer Powell was simply amazing. He torched the Tulsa secondary for 190 yards receiving and a touchdown on 10 catches. The Tulsa secondary simply had no answer for Powell. Meanwhile, on the Oklahoma City defense, Brady Clarke had 2 interceptions of Desperados quarterback, Michael Martin. Clarke also helped with 8 tackles and finished tied with fellow safety, Al Clint. Going into Week 3, teams need to start taking Oklahoma City seriously. At 2-0, Oklahoma City are looking very tough early on. It is still early in the season, but they are starting out hot. Heading into Week 3, Oklahoma City will travel to New Orleans to take on the Pharaohs in the first ever game at Lieutenant General Russell Honore’ Stadium.

Meanwhile, this was not the result that Tulsa needed. With the loss this drops Tulsa to 0-2 in the conference. The only silver lining is that it is still only Week 3 and there is time to bounce back. This is a confident team who have a proven track record in the league. Tulsa can look no farther than the turnover margin for the reason they lost. Quarterback, Michael Martin threw for 422 yards and a touchdown but also threw 2 interceptions to Oklahoma City. Tulsa running back, Sonzo Robinson, fumbled once as well and only rushed for a pedestrian 56 yards and one score. Tulsa’s receiving duo of Andre Godspeed and Stephen Bush tried to bring Tulsa back. Godspeed totaled 137 yards on 10 catches but no scores. Bush, on the other side, had 150 yards receiving on 9 catches and was shutout of the end zone as well. On the defensive side of the ball for Tulsa, no one was able to get pressure on Nickens consistently. No one was able to force a turnover. Leading the tackle list was strong safety, Charles Ball who had 6. Tulsa linebacker, Espnn Ry’Ale and defensive tackle, Rhett Sawyer (Sawyer was later released by Tulsa) had one sack apiece. Tulsa will be able to get some home cooking in Week 3 when they host another tough opponent in Tallahassee. Tulsa will look to hopefully get their first win of the season, but it will not be easy. This team needs to stay together, it is still early.

Dallas Lobos @ Houston Hyenas                       By Ryan Michaels

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Broadcasters: Alvin Washington & Marcus Dunhill

Stats: Kody Hill

Dallas Lobos visited the Houston Hyenas in Week 2 of the SFL, hoping to keep the offensive success they started with in Week 1, only this time they hoped the defense would match its brilliance. The Houston Hyenas welcomed the Lobos, looking to bounce back from an embarrassing loss against the Queen City Corsairs in Week 1, where their offense was held to 3 field goals for the majority of the game and the only touchdown came late in the 4th quarter with the game mostly already out of reach.

The opening drive for the Lobos started promisingly, with passes caught by rookie wide receiver, Junior Senior II and veteran pass catcher, Mike Osayi. A pass from the 47 yard line of Dallas by Shabazz Psynergy went over the middle of the field towards Mike Osayi, but Houston free safety, Blake Chance stepped in front of the pass to give the Hyenas possession at their own 40 yard line. The first play from scrimmage for the Hyenas was a pass deep to the left to D.R. Sim from Kentez Johnson, that set them up at the Dallas 28 yard line. Several plays later, the Hyenas found themselves in the end zone after a reception across the middle by a non-contract receiver, giving Houston the lead, 7-0, after capitalizing on the turnover by Dallas. The next drive by the Lobos ended in a punt after 2 consecutive sacks by defenaive lineman, Chad Takkul on 2nd and 3rd down. Houston were unable to produce anything the next drive and had to punt the ball away. Several big plays by Royce Robbins and Mike Osayi brought Dallas all the way down to the Houston 13 yard line. The Houston defense, however, would say enough is enough and on a quick out pass to Mike Osayi over the left side, Houston cornerback, Ryan Michaels, climbed the ladder to pluck the ball out of the sky to give the Hyenas possession of the ball. Houston was only able to get out of the shadow of their own end zone off the turnover and ended up punting the ball back away to Dallas. Unfortunately for Dallas, a few plays later, Psynergy would be picked off again, this time by Houston strong safety, Eddie Gauge, to set up Houston on the Dallas 40 yard line. Once again though, the Lobos defense stood strong, actually forcing Houston to lose 2 yards on the drive and force another punt. The 3rd straight possession for the Lobos though would end with an interception, this time by non-contract linebacker, James Smith. The Dallas defense continued to hang tough and once again held the Houston offense to minimal yards gained and forced a 3rd consecutive punt from the Hyenas after the interception.

The second half started off with punts by both teams, as neither was able to get much going on offense. The 2nd drive by the Hyenas was cut short on a tip drill interception by Dallas cornerback Dante West, and his return set up the Lobos beautifully at the Houston 18 yard line.  Dallas wasn’t able to pound the ball into the end zone though and had to settle for a field goal to cut the Houston lead to four, 7-3. After the kickoff, Warren Murray – who had been injured on the third play of the first quarter – returned to the field and immediately burst thru the Dallas defensive line for 54 yards, barely being caught from behind to save a touchdown at the Dallas 16 yard line. A quick slant to Yasin Clifton over the middle found paydirt and extended Houstons lead to 14-3. The next score in the game came a few drives later for Houston as Kentez Johnson dropped back to pass and had all day to throw. He finally lofted a deep ball to the left side to a streaking D.R. Sim, as he had found his way behind the Dallas defense, dragging the last defender into the end zone with him. Houston now lead 21-3 at the beginning of the 4th quarter. The Dallas offense started to show signs of life again as they drove down the field, but it seemed that luck was just against them as Mike Osayi caught a pass in the left flat and was immediately hit by Blake Chance. The hit jarred the ball loose and was immediately scooped up from the turf by Ryan Michaels to give Houston their 5th takeaway of the game. Dallas scored the next points of the game on a 26 yard field goal with 4:39 left in the 4th quarter, cutting the lead to 21-6. The onside kick by Dallas was unsuccessful and Houston took back over with great field position. Several plays later and Johnson connected with Badr Ajlouni on a post route to the middle of the end zone. Johnson’s 4th touchdown of the game and his 4th different receiving target with a touchdown, extended Houston’s lead once more, this time to  28-6. The Lobos offense finally caught fire on their final drive of the game, driving down the field and scoring on a pass from Shabazz Psynergy to Mike Osayi, giving us our final score of Houston Hyenas 28 – Dallas Lobos 13.

PoTG – Houston QB, Kentez Johnson – 18-27 for 202 yards and 4 Passing TDs

Honorable Mention – Houston DT, Chad Takkul – 5 sacks

Denver Nightwings @ Mexico City Aztecs        By Ray Bentley

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The Denver Nightwings travelled south to take on the Mexico City Aztecs, hoping to walk away with another victory notched in their belt. Mexico City wasn’t about to let that happen, however. The first quarter saw Jeffery Daggs of the Aztecs pick off Nightwings quarterback, Josh Miller, to set up a field goal and take an early lead. Things did not fare any better for Denver as the half progressed, and Mexico City widened their lead with three more field goals and a 1 yard rush by Ray Bentley, dragging “half the Nightwings defense behind him” in the words of play-by-play commentator, James Richards.

The second half at Estadio Azteca featured a Nightwings offense that, while cautious, began to show signs of life. Running back, Jarrod McChesney, started getting some traction in his runs, while wide receivers,Logan Keel and Jockamo Jones, were able to nab crucial first down catches to keep Denver competitive, finally getting onto the scoreboard with a field goal in the fourth quarter. Defensively, Bailey Bacca and BJ Armstrong stepped up to help neutralize the Mexico City offense in the second half, allowing for no more points from the Aztecs. With one minute to go, Denver were finally able to reach the promised land thanks to a wide open Logan Keel. A well-executed two point conversion was a success, but the ensuing onside kick was not, helping Mexico open their home season with a win. The Nightwings head home to take on the San Fransisco Sharks in Week 3, while the Aztecs are on bye, returning to Estadio Azteca to take on the Baltimore Vultures in Week 4.

Alaska Storm @ Vancouver Legion                    By Kody ‘Thrill’ Hill

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We go up north to Canada, where Alaska went to war against the Vancouver Legion. The current champs were at 1-0 while Vancouver had a chance to stump the Storm. Let’s dive in to how the game went down!

1st Quarter
The first Quarter started with both teams going back and forth but not really going anywhere. Then quarterback, Mark Biddix threw the ball to Brett Killan for a long passing TD. Alaska had the ball but then threw it away to rookie free safety, Markem Lopez. Vancouver got a field goal to make the lead 10-0. Alaska’s fullback, Jason Williams, showed why Alaska picked the right person as from his perfomance he doesn’t seem to play like a fullback. He played like a halfback running down the field and getting a TD to make the lead 7-10.

2nd Quarter
Kody Hill was trying to prove that Week 1 was a fluke and he showed that as his only carries proved to be a big factor in the game. Vancouver kicked another field goal to make it 13-7, Vancouver. Then, last minute heroics from Ron Cockren gave Alaska a one point lead going into halftime, as he threw a peefect pass for a touchdown.

Halftime
The half seemed pretty even as the score was currently 14-13. The running game was working well for both teams with Kody Hill and Jason Williams. It seemed like Vancouver was mainly focused on defending the passing game especially.

3rd Quarter
Things seemed go in Alaska’s direction as Mark Biddix threw for an interception. Alaska then scored a TD from a pass by Season 10 Championship MVP, Ron Cockren. Jason Williams also started to get some successful runs in. Hill was trying his best it his l carries but he couldnt make anything work. Vancouver then slotted another field goal to make it a one score lead. The score at the end of the quarter was 21-16.

4th Quarter
It was crunchtime! The chat was getting tense. Senae were heightened. Alaska kicked a field goal to make the score 24-16. All Vancouver needed was 8 points. Then, Brad Brechett put a dagger in the hearts of Legion fans, dissecting the posts with another field goal to or the Storm out of reach. Vancouver found themselves close to the goal line using the pass, then it all went downhill as the ball was intercepted in the endzone.
The game was close but Alaska proved why they are champs.

Next week’s matchups
Sioux Falls Vs Alaska
Chicago Vs Vancouver

Baltimore Vultures @ Indianapolis Red Devils                                                                      By Jeremy Vega

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The Red Devils are welcomed home

In this Week 2 matchup we saw the 0-1 Baltimore Vultures take on the 0-1 Indianapolis Red Devils. With both teams trying to avoid an 0-2 start to their summer campaign, and with the Vultures hiring their new Head Coach & former owner Thim as Paterniti, it was a game that held a lot of intrigue. Unfortunately for most SFL fans, this game was over at halftime. The score was 27-7 in favor of the Red Devils. The second half had only a field goal to show for it that was knocked in by the Indy non-star kicker. The Vultures we dominated on both sides of the ball with their major stars putting on more of a disappearing act than a good performance.

The only touchdown for the Vultures came from rookie halfback, Troy Gaines on a catch and run. Outside of wide receiver Garren Malones big day, (7 rec 111 yards) the Vultures just couldn’t get anything going offensively. On the Indianapolis side, quarterback Tom Pepper of the Red Devils, put on one of the best performances we have seen from him in a while. Putting up a high completion percentage (82.93) along with two passing touchdowns and no picks, Pepper also managed to avoid any sacks. Halfback, Keith Swearingen had a great showing with 126 rushing yards, 1 touchdown & 8 receptions. Both Indy stars were shown up by star wide receiver, Dan Daly. His monster performance of 8 catches for 186 yards & 2 touchdowns earned him the Player of the Game honours and earned his team their first victory of the season.

Next week,  the Vultures host Queen City in their home opener, while the Red Devils head on over to St. Louis to face off against the Gladiators, who are playing at home for the third straight week. Until next time, thank you for all your support of the SFL Beat Team.

Las Vegas Fury @ Sioux Falls Sparrows           By Jon Bond

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The Vegas Fury went to Sioux Falls, and though it wasn’t even Christmas time, they came bearing gifts – in the form of turnovers and a patchwork offense. Thanks in part to four interceptions and three sacks, while the Fury managed an electrifying 2nd half kickoff return, the Sioux Falls Sparrows defeated their western rivals, 31-14. But those offerings weren’t the only reason for the Sparrows’ success in this one. The offense, keeping to it’s bread-and-butter, focused on running the ball, which in turn wore down the Fury defense. In the end, Sioux Falls dominated the time of possession, 26:18 to 17:42, while racking up 142 rushing yards. Most of those came courtesy of Colin Hart, who finished with 137 yards and 2 touchdowns, the second-highest rushing total of his young career. Still, the dirty work was done by the Sparrows defense.

1st Half
Neither team was able to do much in the first half, and being set up at the Las Vegas 15-yard line, the Sparrows kicked a field goal from 33 yards out to put them at the advantage at 3-0. The Sparrows, in fact, failed to capitalize on the one turnover by Jay Ringgold, which came courtesy of Fury quarterback Thomas Ramen, trying to put points up on the board before the half.

2nd Half
Nice and pretty for the Fury, when starting the 3rd quarter with kickoff return from Max Jackson. The rookie return man dashed up the middle, waited and spun past the Sparrows’ line of defense and then raced all the way to the end zone; the first return touchdown of his young career. Just like that, after a dismal first half, the Fury were now leading 7-3, but in what looks to becoming a trend, there would be a second-half collapse in this one. The Sparrows methodically made their way down the field with Hart scoring on a wide open swing pass that led to a touchdown, the Sparrows now led 10-7. Sioux Falls once again would take control, by forcing the Fury to throw an interception to A.J. Levye on their next possession. Followed by the power running of Hart, another swing pass put the Sparrows up 17-7. Levye made Ramen pay for going deep again and picked up his second interception.

Any thoughts of a comeback were soon squashed with rookie cornerback, Andrew Nyberg, securing a 4th interception. With the Sparrows running game continuing to grind down the Fury, with the victory assured, Sioux Falls put in their backups, allowing Brett Funk to get a corner route to go over 50 yards for an easy touchdown, bringing the score to 31-14. The Sparrows go into Season 11 at the 2-0 mark and ranking first in the SFL West. They’ll now travel to Anchorage to face Mighty’s Alaska Storm.

Tallahassee Pride @ Atlanta Swarm                  By Kody ‘Thrill’ Hill

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Two teams coming off wins in Week 1 entered Atlanta, Georgia, looking to remain undefeated. It was ‘Rivalry Night’ in the SFL and the Swarm and Pride were set to do battle. It was a conference matchup with the capable commentators, Chris Curtis and Ramos Lynn on the call. Let’s see how it went down!

1st Quarter
The quarter started with Atlanta putting on their A-Game, with rookie quarterback, Marcus Dunhill and veteran at halfback, BDG Hollewood showing promise. Hollewood got Atlanta the first score of the game to make it 7-0. Christian Christiansen trying to prove that losing in the championship in an undefeated season was a fluke, made some important plays. Jaye Eniola also did positive things for the offense, but it didn’t quite result in a breakout run. The teams ended up going back and forth for a while but then we saw Christiansen throw to wide receiver, Ken Gossett, who was a big factor last season, scoring a long TD to tie the game up with a few minutes left in the first quarter.

2nd Quarter
A tight game continued as the 2nd quarter got started with Atlanta on the ball. Dunhill seemed to keep the tempo going, then with one hand, Michael Sporus made an interception to give Tallahassee the ball. They then took the lead with a field goal. As Atlanta got the ball back, they almost gave up possession with a fumble. As most of the quarter had passed by, the two teams kept going back and forth. Near the end of the half, Christiansen was close to the end zone and unfortunately intercepted. As the half ended, the score read 10-7.

3rd Quarter
It was still anyone’s game as Tallahassee still had the lead by 3. The battle went back and forth in this epic rivalry match. Then, rookie Marcus Dunhill made a perfect pass for a TD to take back the lead, 14-10. The offenses didn’t do much in that quarter as Tallahassee had one last chance to make something in crunchtime.


4th Quarter
Crunchtime baby! Atlanta heldcthe ball long enough to get a field goal to make it only a TD and extra point to tie this thing up. Then Marcus Dunhill was intercepted again and Tanner Hendrix made a crucial play for a pick 6 to tie it up, 17-17. Atlanta punted the ball to a Tallahassee Pride offense ready to comeback in this game. Michael Sprous did that for them once again snagging his second interception and first pick 6 of the game. Dunhill and the Swarm ended the match in total shock. Tallahassee made a late field goal to finish the game 31-17.

Queen City Corsairs @ London Knights            By Jeff Melinyshyn

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Finishing off the Week Two slate was the fan vote winning game, Queen City at London. The game featured two 1-0 teams with highly ranked defenses. For the visiting Queen City, they understood what needed to be done. They have been there and done that. They were able to force London quarterback, Nathan Lee into 7 interceptions in the game. Despite the turnovers, Queen City could not capitalize on their field position. At half time, the score was only 21-10 to the Corsairs. Queen City enjoyed a break out performance by rookie wide receiver, Dupree Hudson, who had 144 receiving yards and a touchdown. Star running back, Ash Odom was bottled up most of the night and still managed to top a hundred yards rushing with his 117 yards and a score. This is now back to back games with at least a hundred yards rushing and  he also has 5 touchdowns on the season. Star quarterback, AJ Caswell threw the ball all over the field in this one to a tune of 261 yards and 3 scores, but was intercepted on four different occasions. Leading the Corsairs’ defense was Oskar Dunklee, who intercepted Nathan Lee four times. Queen City will look to continue their stellar play when they travel to Baltimore to take on the Vultures.

As for the London Knights, this was supposed to be a statement game. A game which they could look at weeks from now and say they turned the corner against Queen City. London can thank their defense for even keeping them in the ball game. Despite quarterback Nathan Lee’s 7 interceptions, the defense only gave up 28 points to one of the best overall teams in the league. London’s defensive line was able to get pressure on AJ Caswell, at times when they needed to get off the field. Frank Axemall had 2.5 sacks and rookie stud defensive end, Tyrone Zeus, is showing to be a headache for offensive coordinators. Nathan Blake picked off AJ Caswell to make it back-to-back games now with an interception. On the offensive side of the ball, receiver James Hands lead the way again with 93 receiving yards and another touchdown. Tristan Carr had his share of looks along the second Hands’ brother, Donnie. Both needed more targets and should have their opportunities against Carolina in Week 3. London faces rival Carolina Skyhawks next in a huge matchup.