By Brandon Haight
Vancouver Legion @ Tulsa Desperados
Season 12 Week 9
The purpose of this weekly series is to put a spot light on a weekly SFL game that is, shall we say, less heralded, than some of the more bandied about games across the league each week.
Obviously, these games are no less important than any other, particularly to those that are part of the fan bases, or teams involved. The game I chose to take a look at this week featured a matchup of 3 – 4 teams fighting to return to .500 as the Vancouver Legion traveled to Tulsa to take on the Desperados on Sunday afternoon.
Before I look at my B Side game of the week, I wanted to reach out to a member of each organization to help us understand where they are in Season 12, and what things they are looking to focus on in order to find success in this weeks game.
Starting with the road team, I spoke with Mr. Andy Hamilton who is the Owner and Head Coach of the Legion. This is how our interview went:
After a nice 2-1 start to your season. You saw the Legion drop three straight to Houston, New Orleans and Las Vegas before righting the ship last week against a formidable Queen City Corsairs team. Now you sit at 3-4 and are taking on another 3-4 club who is trying to get back to .500 en route to making a push for the playoffs. How do you maintain the momentum that you built against the Corsairs heading into this match up with the Desperados IN Tulsa no less?
We have always been a second half of the season team over the course of our Team’s history. No doubt about that. So maintaining momentum comes down to simply just looking at every game like we’re 0-0 and the team we’re going to play is 0-0. We have to simply look at it one game at a time, and get back to winning.
Can you pin point something that you felt contributed to your success against Queen City that you will be hoping to extrapolate on against Tulsa this week?
Each team in the SFL is unique. It’s hard to win no matter who you’re playing. In terms of Tulsa, I think we just have to keep our wits about us and play Vancouver football. We know we can compete with any team on the field any given day, so we’ll be in the game, the question is just can we make the plays to separate us from Tulsa.
When thinking about your opponent in Tulsa. What are some of the things that you think they do well as a team that you will need to address as you prepare for this game?
In terms of Tulsa, their defense is strong. Their defensive front specifically is very good, as well as their secondary. Charles Ball is an incredible player and we’ll have to keep in mind when and where he is on the field. On Offense, it’s going to come down to the rookie Ashley Jackson. We have to do something to get her out of her normal routine.
Next I had a chat with Ashley “Striker” Jackson, the rookie quarterback for the Desperados to get a players take on the coming game against Vancouver. Here is our interview:
This is your rookie season. How has it felt to see yourself in the Tulsa Desperadoes uniform and slinging the ball all over the field to talented Receivers like Stephen Bush, Khoury Jones and Tight End Garren Malone III?
It feels absolutely FANTASTIC..I never thought in a million years that I would be playing and enjoying simulation football as the first female QB! It is an honor and a privilege to be here and be a part of the Tulsa Desperados.
You and your squad started this season 3-1. You were sitting at number 5 in the standings, in a comfortable playoff position a third of the way through the season. Now you have dropped 3 straight to Atlanta, Queen City a very formidable team, and Carolina who is a team that is currently trying to find their rhythm. How do you as the quarterback go about reversing this slide, that has seen Tulsa end up on the wrong side of .500 for the season?
Getting ball down field is vitally important in these games..I will find a better rhythm and balance with Pass and Run and be more creative to be effective.
If you could pin point one thing that you as a team need to do in order to stop Vancouver this weekend, and get Tulsa back to a 4-4 record, looking at the rest of the season with the playoffs in mind. What is that one thing that you need to do?
I can actually think of two.. Pass the ball accurately to connect with my players…I need to make sure that I am more accurate to minimize turnovers and stop giving teams chances to score. Converting 3rd down is a must as well. Being in a position like 3rd and 5 or 6..it is vital to make those plays because you can gain or lose momentum on your drives.
Story of the Game
Vancouver @ Tulsa was a tale of swinging and shifting momentum. Throughout the majority of the first half, the Legion held a multiple score lead thanks to a pair of interceptions of Ashley Jackson and some downhill running by Ivan Sanchez. Tulsa recovered, however, with some brilliant if perhaps excessive use of the shovel pass during a two minute drill that culminated in a touchdown before halftime, followed by some slick running by Sonzo Robinson for another score in the 3rd quarter that cut the Legion’s lead to 3.
Vancouver reestablished the lead toward the end of the third quarter as they continued to pound the ball on the ground to great effect. The pendulum again swung in the opposite direction after a Kaney Rockafella interception led to a Tulsa touchdown drive capped off with a 2 yard touchdown reception by Garren Malone.
With a minute remaining in the game Sonzo Robinson nearly took a 30 plus yard rush to the house to give Tulsa a 30 to 27 lead, after having their tie previously broken by an Ashley Finch field goal. Instead the Vancouver goal line defense took care of business and held Tulsa to three points which took us to overtime with a 27 to 27 score.
The name of the game is sudden death when you are talking about overtime, and that means that the first team on the board is the one who takes home the W. Tulsa won the toss and put themselves in position to do what needed to be done to get the win, and then were given a second opportunity to do so after punting to end their first possession of overtime, and then Kanye Rockafella’s second interception of the day on the ensuing Vancouver drive. Both teams traded punts and Vancouver sealed the deal with a Gus Schulz interception on the first play on Tulsa’s third drive of the extra period. Vancouver put together a nice drive in order to get into Ashley Finch’s range, she converted her third field goal of the afternoon from 30 yards to give the Legion the 30 to 27 victory on the road.
My Two Piece and a Biscuit
As a consolation prize for playing along with me this week. Both of these teams are entitled to a nice two piece and a biscuit on me. Here are my 3 highlights for each team whether in victory or defeat. Lovingly referred to from here on out, as my Two Piece and a Biscuit.
1. The Rushing Game. Ivan Sanchez rushed for 125 yards and 2 scores, and even their backup RB got in on the action adding another score for good measure. The ground game helped Vancouver set the pace, particularly after they established an early lead and Tulsa was consistently playing catch up.
2. The Secondary: Any game where you pick off the opposing quarterback four times is going to be a rough day for that team.
3. The Biscuit: Them Gold Unis! Bang on Vancouver, showing some slick style on the road. They looked like Bronze statues, belying the standard white that many teams end up sporting when not playing at home.
1. Opportunistic. I think to the casual viewer, Tulsa had a difficult time getting things going. There was a herky jerkiness to their offense that seemed to be holding them from really opening things up. But they were opportunistic in taking the missteps by Vancouver and turning them into points. Both the Rockafella interception, and an earlier Vancouver interception that was fumbled back to Tulsa, led to Desperado points. These moments kept Tulsa in this game.
2. Sonzo Robinson: Those were a tough 87 yards. Maybe not the sexiest 87 yards in the world, but Sonzo’s respectable if not mind blowing stat line really assisted the Tulsa offense in sustaining drives and creating big plays to build their momentum.
3. The Biscuit: The Shovel Pass! Man alive the Desperados ran a designed shovel pass for four straight plays during a two-minute drill to end the first half. The last of the four was a duck, but the previous three allowed them to eat up the 20 to 25 yards they needed to get down to the goal line and score an all important touchdown before the break.
VIVA LAS VEGAS.
That’s right folks. For next weeks B Sides, I will travel to Las Vegas Nevada. To take a gander at the Las Vegas Fury, as they battle the visiting Indianapolis Spit Fire. See you next week.