Ryan Karpinski, Beat Writer
Banner image by J.R. Lawless

The 8th seeded Atlanta Swarm played host to the 9th seeded Tulsa Desperadoes in “The Hive” in Atlanta, Georgia in a Wild Card matchup for the Season 13 Simulation Football League Playoffs. The Tulsa Desperadoes won the coin toss and decided to kick the ball and put the pressure on the Atlanta Swarm offense in the early going of the game. Atlanta’s first drive looked to be giving Tulsa a heavy dose of their dual threat running back BDG Hollewood with a 6 yard run on the first play, followed by a 10 yard swing pass. With Hollewood seeming to be in his groove at the onset of the game, the Swarm handed it to him on their 3rd play of the game and sent him up the left side of the line. After a few yards he was met with a hit from Tulsa safety Kanye Rockafella, who hit just hard enough to jar the ball loose from Hollewood; one of the Desperadoes dove on to the loose ball and gave Tulsa possession. Tulsa would not squander their opportunity from the turnover as they took over from the Atlanta 43 yard line. Under a methodical drive from Quarterback Ashley Jackson, the Desperados forced the ball down to the Atlanta goalline. Unfortunately they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone and had to settle for a 27 yard field goal to put the first points of the game on the board and give Tulsa a 3-0 lead with 6:32 left in the first quarter. Atlanta’s following drive showed that they weren’t giving up on their star running back, as they continued to feed him on several runs and swing passes. With Hollewood drawing attention of the defense, the Swarm began to unleash the arm of the own prized quarterback as he hit wide receivers Boo Chisholm and Siege Falco, both with good grabs to give them first downs and extend the drive. Another deep pass across the middle to Chisholm put the Swarm down at the Tulsa 1 yard line and Atlanta added the exclamation point with a dive straight up the middle for the touchdown with backup running back, Riley Freeman, giving Atlanta a 7-3 lead they would carry on to the 2nd quarter.

The first drive for the Swarmin the 2nd quarter showed a very similar plan to the 1st quarter, as BDG Hollewood was used heavily with more runs and swing passes while the Swarm drove in to Tulsa territory. Atlanta’s drive would stall at the Tulsa 20 yard line and Swarm kicker Jay Miraculous would come out and convert the 37 yard field goal, extending Atlanta’s lead to 10-3 with 6:19 left in the 1st half. Tulsa’s following drive started off promising as they drove into the Atlanta half of the field. Unfortunately for the Desperados, it looked like it was going to stall at midfield after a sack by Swarm defensive linemen Josh Williams and a stuff up the middle for no gain by linebacker Aqauntis Shyne. On 3rd and 16 from the 50 yard line Ashley Jackson turned and handed the ball to running back Sonzo Robinson, who charged up the right side of the offensive line and shrugged off several would-be tacklers and broke into the open field. A great angle of pursuit by Aqauntis Shyne gave him just enough time to bring down Robinson just before he could cross the goalline for a touchdown, stopping him at the 3 yard line of Atlanta. A few plays later and Ashley Jackson would find wide receiver Mike Osayi in the back of the endzone, who did a little toe drag swag to keep himself inbounds on the catch. An extra point later and the scored would be knotted up at 10-10. The 1st half would come to close with that score as the teams headed into their respective locker rooms.

Both teams were unable to get much going on the offensive side at the start of the 3rd quarter as both defenses gained momentum out of the half. The first drive of the half belonged to Tulsa, and they got a great first down run by Sonzo Robinson to make it 2nd and 1, but the following two plays were great defensive stands by the Swarm and the Desperadoes were forced into a 3 and out. Atlanta’s first drive of the 2nd half started with a 12 yard pass across the middle to Jamal Wooding. Looking to capitalize on the big first play, they tested the middle of the field again on a pass to Wooding. Tulsa safety Charles Ball had other plans, stepping in front of the pass for an interception to give the Tulsa offense another shot. The Desperadoes, however, were unable to seize the momentum from the turnover and were forced into another 3 and out to punt it back to Atlanta. The ensuing drive by the Swarm began to lean on Hollewood once again, starting out with a big play on a swing pass and a run up the middle for a few yards. 2 plays later Charles Ball made another appearance as he cut in front of another pass and started to take the ball the other way. Had it not been for a great effort by Boo Chisholm to chase him down from behind, Ball would’ve taken that pass all the way back; instead Tulsa took over possession at the Swarm’s 33 yard line. Atlanta’s defense took matters into their own hands this time, and on the first play of the Tulsa drive after the turnover linebacker Aquantis Shyne plucked the Ashley Jackson’s pass out of the air to give the Swarm possession once more. Taking advantage of the turnover, Atlanta quarterback Marcus Dunhill launched a ball down the left side of the field to wide receiver Siege Falco all the way down to the Tulsa 49 yard line. A few passes later found the Swarm down to the Tulsa 27 yard line, though they had to settle for a 44 yard goal attempt. Woe be to the Swarm, then, as it bounced off the right upright and came back out in the field of play for a missed attempt, giving Tulsa possession once more at their own 34 yard line. A methodical drive down the field was then put together by the Tulsa offense, mixing runs and passes to get up at the Atlanta 18 yard line (following a 23 yard reception from Mike Osayi). After a short pass to the outside to the fullback, Ashley Jackson dropped back and found tight end Anthony Mosley on a deep slant route across the middle, just over the heads of the linebackers, for another Tulsa touchdown. An extra point later Tulsa found themselves up on top 17-10 with only 26 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter.

The 4th quarter started with Atlanta driving down the field with some passes across the middle and swing passes to the outside, as well as a deep corner route by Boo Chisholm, which suddenly found the Swarm down to the Tulsa 2 yard line. A run and a swing pass to Hollewood put them down to the half yard line, and one final run up the right side of the offensive line put Hollewood and the Swarm into the endzone to tie up the score 17-17 with 8:12 remaining in the 4th quarter. The Desperadoes looked to respond to the Swarm drive with a drive of their own, getting all the way down to the Atlanta 30 yard line before Atlanta safety Aaron Lee cut off a pass intended for Mike Osayi and brought it back to the Swarm 26 yard line. The Swarm the offense trotted out on to the field looking to take the lead and put the game away with 6:04 left. 2 stuffed runs later, Dunhill dropped a beautiful pass over the top of Tulsa cornerback Dante West into the hands of Siege Falco; West was able to drag him shortly after the catch but Atlanta continued their drive to the Tulsa 40 yard line. A few plays to Hollewood once again proved fruitful as Atlanta drove down to the Tulsa 29 and a pass to Chisholm had them down to the 15 yard line with 3:26 remaining in regulation. An out route to Jamaal Wooding down the Tulsa 8 yard line was followed with another swing pass to Hollewood put the ball at the 3 yard line as the 2 minute warning came. On a 3 tight end formation Dunhill dropped off a pass to a wide open BDG Hollewood and he cruised into the end zone to put the Swarm up 24-17 with only 1:57 remaining in the 4th quarter. Looking to make a play on the following kickoff, Charles Ball began his return up the middle, he made one man miss before a solid hit jarred the ball loose and Blake Chance jumped on the loose ball for Atlanta to give them possession once more. A few swings passes to Hollewood, one for a first down, forced Tulsa into using the first two timeouts and brought about a 2nd and 1 and the Tulsa 10 yard line with 1:39 left in the game. Another swing pass gained another first down for the Swarm at the Tulsa 4 yard line and brought out the victory formation from Atlanta. The first kneel down forced Tulsa final timeout and the next two kneel plays wore the clock down to 12 seconds left. The Swarm added a final insurance field goal to make the score 27-17, and that’s what the final score would be after 2 plays from Tulsa netted them nothing but a final interception by Aaron Lee as the clock ticked away.

Player of the Game: Atlanta RB, BDG Hollewood – 19 carries for 64 yards and 1 TD, 23 receptions for 168 yards and 1 TD

Honorable Mention – Tulsa SS, Charles Ball – 7 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss, 1 Pass Defended and 2 Interceptions