Written by Rae Colston, Baylee O’Shaughnessy, Josh Farnzy and Matthew Slinn

Images by Tyler Falk and Axel Raven

Jason Williams and the Toros defeat the Lycans 31-13.

Running back Jason Williams was the star of this show. He had 23 carries for a whopping 261 yards and three rushing touchdowns. The Lycan’s defense, who did a very good job of shutting running backs down all season, just did not have an answer for him. Rookie QB Cameron Curtis was efficient completing 15 of his 20 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown. The tough Fort Worth defense held the Lycans to just 265 total yards and 13 points. The Lycans appeared to head into Fort Worth with a new game plan. Their game plan was to prevent the interceptions that have been plaquing quarterback Sully Richardson over the last several games. The game plan did work in that respect; however, it also eliminated all the risky passes that went for big yardage in previous games. Like the saying goes, “No risk, no reward”, and they absolutely were not rewarded for this effort.

The Lycans end their season on a 2-game losing streak. The Toros will head over to Vancouver this week to face the 4th ranked Legion in the quarterfinals. Will Jason Williams be able to bulldoze the Legion’s defensive line, or will the Legion’s high-powered offense be too much for the Toro’s tough defense?

The Aztecs Fall After Succumbing to the Scorpions’ Sting

In perhaps the biggest upset of the Wildcard round, and potentially Season 16 as a whole, the 6-6 Arizona Scorpions rolled into 8-4 Mexico City and quite simply, took care of business. Eddie Gauge’s charges pulled out a game-breaking defensive performance, coupled it with an efficient offensive display, and left Estadio Azteca victorious, 24-21. The performance was epitomised by Gauge himself, the veteran putting in an all-time great shift, snagging a trio of interceptions and terrorising Mexico City QB, Matt Willson, for the entire game. The rest of the team seemed inspired by Gauge’s will to win, as the Scorpions yearned for that first ever playoff victory in franchise history. The offense seemed as potent as always but with an element of control about them, something that has been lacking this season. Ashley Jackson threw for over 300 yards, scoring one TD on a connection with James Hands, and DJ moses is really gathering momentum at the right time. The rusher had over 150 yards and a couple of scores on the day, taking advantage of a defense that simply couldn’t stop him. One final note must be given to TJ Punk, who tore Mexico City up to the tune of 105 yards, right in front of possibly the best TE in the SFL, Mike Daggs.

Speaking of Mexico City, it wasn’t as though they played a bad game – they simply lost the turnover battle. Matt Willson managed to toss 2 TDs despite having a mixed day and Phoenix Jones got on the scoresheet once again, something that has seemed far too simple for him to do this season. Even the defense, who allowed so many yards to both Moses and Jackson, managed three sacks, including a brilliant one by cornerback, Jack Napier. There score of 24-21 was a narrow one, as it should be in the playoffs, but it was well deserved by the Scorpions. Mexico City will need to go back, likc their wounds and come back stronger next season, ready to make one more run to get back to that elusive championship game, something that they have failed to do since Season 9. 

Fury Unleashed in St. Louis
Back in Week 11 Las Vegas handily defeated St. Louis at home 40-27 as a part of a 5-game winning streak before losing a close game against the #1 ranked team in the SFL: Denver. This game would turn out no different, as the hot Las Vegas Fury continued their second half of the season play by defeating the St. Louis Gladiators 33-21. The Gladiators started off quickly, taking a 6-minute opening drive methodically down the field for 7. But, Las Vegas QB Colin Pierce had other ideas. Picking apart the Gladiator defense, Pierce would match St. Louis QB Christian Brown’s opening effort by navigating a 5 of 5 drive down the field for 7 of their own… in 4 minutes. After the defense forcing a punt, Pierce went back to work. But the drive would stall and they would settle for a FG. On the ensuing drive Brown had a beautiful connection down the side to WR Eagle Mondavi for a monster gain. However, a tip drill interception in the end zone would deny St. Louis points. The Gladiators force a punt and begin to move down the field, HBs leading the way to paydirt after a gutsy 4th and 1 call to keep the drive alive inside the 10. With 2:34 left in the half, FB Bill Cherry walked in for a TD. To close the half, Las Vegas would once again drive the field, with a 4th down conversion at midfield to keep it alive, followed by a monster run by Scott Johnson to put them inside the 10. Pierce wasted no time capitalizing, throwing a dot for his second TD pass to WR John Blades with 19 seconds left. What a half!
Unfortunately for the Gladiators, that was almost the end of their points for the day. They would only score 7 more in the 4th. The Fury, on the other hand, took the ball to FG range and scored 3 more on their way to a 16-7 second half, including a 55-yard launch by Colin Pierce to Mason Kirby, the wide receiver stealing behind the St. Louis defence to score untouched. Kirby’s big-play ability showed in bounds, leading to a whopping 44.5 YPR. Colin Pierce ended his stellar day (which landed him with Player of the Game honors) 19 of 24 for 292 and 3 TDs, for a QB Rating of 156.9. RB Scott Johnson rumbled to 5.1 ypc on 31 for 158, but didn’t manage to get in the end zone this week. WRs Doug Britton and John Blades were the favorite targets on the day, pulling in 13 of 18 targets for a collective 175 yards. The Gladiators are out, but had a good year and should be back in contention next season. The Las Vegas Fury continue their remarkable journey this weekend against the 10-2 Florida Storm on Sunday, April 25th, kicking off at 12:30 pm EST.

Four yards.

It’s all the Kings needed on three plays in the final minutes of their wildcard contest against Lone Star to take a late lead that would have been hard to overcome. The Glory held their ground twice and then the left hand of Lone Star’s Freddy Tramel swatted away a Christian Christiansen pass headed for a receiver in the back of the end zone. Go ahead and call it the biggest red zone hold of Season 16, which helped deliver a 32-27 playoff win for Lone Star. The defensive stand came minutes after Ike McBride powered her way into postseason SFL lore. After exiting the game in the second half with an injury, it was unknown whether the running back would return. After a Doug Day interception return down into Jacksonville territory with five minutes left, McBride was back on the field. Two plays later, McBride dragged multiple defenders on her back into the end zone on a power run to give the Glory the lead for good. Give Jacksonville credit for their resiliency. They squandered an early 17-7 lead after the Kings defense forced two turnovers that they quickly converted into first quarter points. Christiansen had thrown six interceptions, including a pick-six to linebacker Brian Craven (who also tallied 18 tackles; not a bad day at the office) earlier in the game, yet they methodically moved the ball down the field with the game on the line.

For just a moment, and no time on the clock, Mike St. Green spun away from a couple tacklers and looked to have a chance for a miracle walkoff return, but too many Lone Star special teamers converged and put an end to the game. They mustered a respectable 327 yards of offense despite the turnovers. They just needed four more. The Kings season ends on a three-game losing streak – overshadowing a strong regular season performance to put them in playoff position. The Glory march on to Baltimore to battle the defending champion Vultures in the quarterfinals this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. EST. Four yards sure goes a long way.