Written by: Kevin Kardasz (@kevinn_up on Twitter)
Dear FCF, thank you for the bounce back week of games we needed after Blowout Bonanza 2022. We got the slate of games we all needed after the last, and wow there was a lot to unpack. In a week with two games coming down to two point margins, an overtime shootout that came after a 16 point comeback thriller, and another one score game? It’s hard to comprehend what even happened at times, look away for a few minutes and suddenly there was a lead change or a big play, the stars came out to play. Did I mention some NFL All-Pro’s stopped by in the middle to play a game too? Did I also mention the playbook was nearly completely changed with a new system and new set of plays? Let’s tear it down, and review what just went down in week 3.
Game 1 – 8oki (44) v Beasts (38) (2OT)
Game of the year. (So far.) Where to even start, in a game with no turnovers, it was an absolute thriller even though at one point it looked like it was over with. 8oki for the second time in a row scored incredibly fast (about two and a half minutes of game clock) and looked to dominate a game…until they let it slip for a second week in a row as well. Alphonso Howard got his first real game action of the season as a starter and did not disappoint, using his legs to settle in and bite off huge chunk plays while avoiding making any errant plays in the air. He would rattle off not one but two passing touchdowns, one to each of Jacoby Herring and Jordus Smith, and Quinn Porter would add a muscle in score from the one yard line . The wrinkles begin here, it’s important to note that the 8oki’s made sure of one thing, point after attempts were an absolute no for the Beasts, they were unable to convert any of theirs in the first half, taking 6 points off the board which adds up to a whole score. Mitch struggled early after the initial drive, letting a 5th down power up drive slip through his fingers, but rather than lay down and let the punches take him, he punched back. With 12 seconds sitting on the clock, Mitch fired off a 32 yard dart to his favorite target, Joseph Boykin.
Opening the second half, the Beasts ate up the clock with a long 7 minute drive that led to the second Jacoby Herring touchdown of the day, with Howard showing incredible poise directing the offense. Yet the 8oki offense continued to stall, letting the pass rush of the Beasts dominate Mitch Kidd after starting lineman, Darion Debrossard, went down to injury early. Letting clock drain again, the Beasts would run a motion set to get Jordus Smith a 33 yard touchdown on the ground.
So there it is, 44 seconds on the clock and that’s just about the end, 32-16 the Beasts dominate the 8oki’s in the first OG v NFT matchup of the season, there’s a lot to work on for the Mitch Kidd led squad but hey, they have some quality pieces in place to turn it around! That’s what the end card would be if the Magician was off the field, but tonight, he wasn’t. In 25 seconds of game clock, Kidd rattled off 3 deep pass plays to move the 8oki deficit to one score on a 17 yard dot to Patrick Smith, and would convert on the extra points. With 19 seconds on the clock, Mitch would take the field as the comeback rule went into effect, 10 yards to stay alive and get a few more plays. 10 yards is a lame chunk anyways, Mitch dropped back and threw a 40 yard deep shot to Joseph Boykin on the 7 yard line which he snatched over his defenders head, and tiptoed into the endzone, which after the clutch point after, led to a tie game. 44 seconds was too much, but the game was far from over as time expired and the OT rules went into effect.
4 plays, start from the 10 yard line, both teams get a chance and if the first team scores you must match their score at least to advance to another OT period, OT ends in 2 periods in a tie if both teams match but in the playoffs would keep going until a winner emerges.
The first period was matched by two rushing scores from each side, Jordus Smith ran in his second of the day, and Malcolm Ballard ran in a 1 play 10 yard score. Neither team could complete the PAT, and after Mitch missed his chance, they played on to a second overtime. The play order swapped after and the 8oki’s ran again, and for the second time in a row, they would score on a 1 play, 10 yard score from Malcolm Ballard who backflipped as the play ended. Joseph Boykin lined up and rolled out wide open on the PAT and looked to grab the go ahead ball but dropped it as it sailed right into his hands. After all of the heroics it really looked like the Beasts could pull it off and avoid the huge upset, the 8oki defense had other plans. Swarming the offense for 3 straight plays, they ended up 4th and goal, on the 3 yard line, ready to rattle off one last push for the tying score. Alphonso Howard got up next to his right tackle, whispered in the play, and dropped back, as his right tackle intentionally misfired to give the offense 5 more yards to operate with. Keep in mind, newly signed WR Martavis Bryant who was a standout free agent signing has been held thus far to 1 catch and 6 yards, there is not a SINGLE WR that can go unguarded here as every single one presents a threat. Howard dropped back, surveyed, and on the go ahead play, got sacked. 8oki’s, against all odds, finish with a win for the ages, on some incredible performances from their big time players.
Notable Performers –
QB – Mitch Kidd – 12/24 CMP / 4 TDS / 0 INTS / 179 YDS (8oki)
WR – Joseph Boykin – 4 CATCHES / 2 TDS / 99 YDS (8oki)
WR – Patrick Smith – 6 CATCHES / 2 TDS / 80 YDS (8oki)
QB – Alphonso Howard – 8/15 CMP / 3 TDS / 0 INTS / 78 YDS / 2 RUSH TDS (BSTS)
Game 2 – BAFC (28) v Kingpins (20)
It’s really hard to follow up the potential game of the year 20 minutes after it wraps and also manage to impress, but the Apes and Kingpins managed to add another competitive game to the day session and keep people on their toes. The Apes started out in a hole with star running back Jakobie Baker out for the week with an injury, but some top level scouting found Darren Woods in the new player pool, and got the offense on the same track. In the first half, there was not a single score that was NOT a rushing touchdown besides the opening drive for the Apes where a nice pass from Francois to Auger set the tone on their side.
Tirri Jones on the surface lacked a great game in the air but if you scroll down just a bit, you see that TJ WAS the Pins offense for the most part this week. In the first half he carved the Apes defense up with long extended run plays and the only two scores they ended up with by the halfway mark were 28 and 33 yard sprints to the end zone by the man himself. One of which I might add, had the nastiest WR block we’ve seen in awhile with Elijah Rogers putting the boom down and keeping the play alive. Darren Woods added a rush of his own that put the Apes back in the game, and when all was said and done, both teams walked into their respective locker rooms tied up at 14 apiece.
The Apes would open the half with a long 8 minute drive that would end in a 24 yard dash for Francois that left him SO wide open he threw a peace sign to the sideline and high stepped it in for the score and put the Apes up. Over the next 6 minutes the Pins would flash greatness…and then flash some questionable offense. Tirri who ended 3 for 11 in the air, struggled to get balls up and oftentimes on target as his usual roll to the right was being heavily chased. They managed to push through and post a touchdown to Collin Andrews from Tirri that would tie it all up at 20 each. The Apes once again pushed down field and took the clock all the way down to 55 seconds, Francois would then push his way in for a second rushing touchdown, putting the Apes up 8 again.
Tirri Jones, with a chance to move the team into an OT position, fired off a few plays that went for short gains and led to a Virgies first down, which led to the fans voting on the man down power up to be used which removed a defensive back from the game. With about 30 seconds on the clock, Tirri dropped back, rolled to his right, and tossed up a deep shot that was easily intercepted by Marquis Cain, and that wrapped up the win for the Apes. In a week without their star running back, they faced the challenge and took home a big win to go 3-0 while the Pins went the opposite direction and dropped to 0-3.
Notable Performers –
QB – Deondre Francois – 4/6 CMP / 1 TD / 2 RUSH TDS / 43 YDS / 45 RUSH YDS (BAFC)
LB – Jim Jones – 4.5 TCKLS / 1.0 SCKS (BAFC)
QB – Tirri Jones – 3/11 CMP / 1 TD / 1 INT / 50 YDS / 2 RUSH TDS / 94 RUSH YDS (PINS)
Game 3 – Shoulda Been Stars (28) v Glacier Boyz (26)
8 scores. Only 1 was a passing touchdown. Yes, Izzy and Slade played, nope, neither of them had the TD pass. The morning presented itself as the best the FCF could be and the beginning of game 3 started a little short of where we left off, with the Stars only scoring once in the first half, and granted it was awesome. On a designed double pass play, Slade tossed it to Travalle Calvin who rolled out and found…Slade Jarman downfield for a 33 yard receiving touchdown which he threw his whole body into as he hauled in a big time score just 2 and a half minutes into the game. After that? Nope, no more, the Stars would get shut out for the rest of the half as the Boyz went to work.
Keep in mind standout QB Devlin Isadore was initially listed as out this week but ended up playing anyways when it came to it, and he punched in the first score for the Boyz on the ground with a 2 yard run. The ball flipped over to the Stars in which a ferocious tackle on the first play of the drive ripped the ball from running back Tracy Gaston’s hands and the Boyz recovered for another quick opportunity to score, which they did on another run play this time from Brycen Alleyne on an 11 yard rush. The Boyz after this would then also hold the Stars to a swift 4 and out that led to nothing as the offense failed to convert even though around 5 minutes sat on the clock.
The Boyz continued to roll out of half time when Alleyne then rushed for a 15 yard touchdown, and put the Boyz up 20-6 with 15 minutes left in regulation. The Stars proceeded to drain 10 minutes off the clock and Tyis Boykin punched in a touchdown to bring the Stars within a score but with 5 minutes left on the clock it seemed like the Boyz could run it out, so they did, and then disaster hit. On a sweep to the right, Brycen Alleyne swallowed a big time hit by Deshawn Benton that sent the ball flying out of his hands and into the Stars, who quickly went right back to Boykin and scored AGAIN to take a 22-20 lead late in the game with 4 minutes left.
So, down a bit, the Boyz went right back to the well and with only a couple minutes left, Alleyne punched in his 3rd rushing score of the night and put the Boyz up 26-22 with time dwindling. The next drive, Slade put the team up on his shoulders with 3 completions down the field including a deep pickup on 4th and 18 to save the drive, and with about 14 seconds left, he drew back. Slade surveyed the defense, placed the ball in the backs hands, and pulled it into his own, looked forward, and plowed his way to a game winning touchdown with 9 seconds left which simply wasn’t enough for the Boyz. (There is a hotly contested final play, where a Stars DB lays Andrew Jamiel out and there’s no PI called, however in order for PI to be called the ball needs to be catchable. The ball thrown by Izzy was way off and pretty unreasonable, it’s tough but I feel the right call was made, in my mind this ending is pretty clean.) Slade Jarman came up huge when it mattered and pushed the Stars to an undefeated 3-0 record on the year. Izzy on the other hand had a rough day, and will look to bounce back and wash this one off next week.
Notable Performers –
WR – Tyis Boykin – 2 RUSH TDS / 8 RUSH / 34 RUSH YDS (SBS)
LB – Justin Foster – 6 TCKLS / 2.0 SCKS (SBS)
LB – Darius Doakes – 5.5 TCKLS (GB)
RB – Brycen Alleyne – 3 RUSH TDS / 12 RUSH / 79 RUSH YDS (GB)
Game 4 – Knights of Degen (36) v Zappers (34)
There’s hope, I repeat, there is HOPE in the Zapper nation, the future is there…maybe!!! Kelly Bryant is the beacon the Zappers needed, and I’ll clear this up before it begins. Former Clemson QB Kelly Bryant was signed mid week by team owners of the Zappers and was in uniform for the game this weekend. Pretty much no one knew how it was going to shake out, and it shook out super, super, well.
Both teams struck quickly in their opening drives, with the Zappers getting a quick rush from Shuncee Thomas to make it to the endzone, and then Ed Crouch diming up Drake wells, both missed PATs and with some offensive stalling, the clock for the first half dwindled under a minute to go and both teams sat at 6 points each. The Zappers drove down the field and after a clutch 4th and long grab by Terrell Owens, they pushed into the Progressive Blue Zone where Bryant got his first touchdown pass in the FCF with a 3 yard dime to Terrell Owens again who signaled his defender was simply too small after the grab.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, Ed Crouch drove his side down the field with a couple balls thrown in Yedidiah Louis’s direction which one got hauled in for a 10 yard touchdown in which the 2 point conversion set the Knights up with a 14-12 lead heading into the break which left an up and down half of football in the dust as the teams looked to reset and find more rhythm outside of the 1 minute drill for the second half.
The Knights came out strong and Crouch went back to his man as he hoisted a 34 yard bomb to Yedi once again who took it in for an early 3 minute score to put the Knights up even further, which lead to the Zappers driving in response down 8 and Kelly Bryant once again would take over with a 3 yard rush to tie up the game at 20-20. This back and forth did NOT fall off, as the teams proceeded to trade scores all the way down to the last play of the game, it went as follows:
7:15 on the clock, after an overturned TD call, Crouch rushes the ball 1 yard for a TD – 28 – 20 (KOD UP)
2:35 on the clock, Bryant calls his own number again and rushes for a 13 yard score to tie, 28 – 28
:50 on the clock, Crouch fires a 4 yard pass to Tommy Auger to take another lead 36 – 28
With the clock winding down, Kelly drove the Zapper offense down with a few balls, and then punched in the score to close the distance with a TD pass to Terrance Williams, putting the game within 2 points and the chance to take it to OT on the line. Terrell Owens lined up, pushed the fade route, broke to the right, was pretty wide open, and dropped the one handed attempt at the ball. Once again, the Zappers fell short although this time much closer than ever before, the immense power of the Zapper lineup fell through and the team dropped to 0-3 while the Knights rose to 2-1.
Notable Performers –
QB – Ed Crouch – 10/11 CMP/ 162 PASS YDS / 1 RUSH TD / 4 PASS TDS (KOD)
LB – Jordan Harold – 5 TCKLS / 1.0 SCKS (KOD)
QB – Kelly Bryant – 12/20 CMP / 130 PASS YDS/ 2 PASS TDS / 2 RUSH TDS (ZAP)
WR – Terrance Williams – 1 TD / 7 CATCHES / 79 YDS (ZAP)
MVP Ladder 3.o
1 – Mitch Kidd (8oki, QB)
I’m being genuine when I ask if there’s much that Kidd can’t do, this is the second out of three weeks that he has put together a game winning drive and it feels like he’s at his best with the game on the line. Kidd leads the FCF in passing yards (413) and is 120 clear of the second place Ed Crouch, he also leads in passing touchdowns (9) and is 3 clear of second place Ed Crouch again. His dominance can not be understated, he commands the offense when it matters with legitimate ease and is one of the biggest reasons why the 8oki’s have a winning record, and aren’t winless. Leading the biggest comeback of the season thus far helped his resume, but the numbers add up and speak for themselves as Kidd has put himself in a spot for some serious numbers when this is all wrapped up. He’s back on top.
2 – Deondre Francois (BAFC, QB)
Francois has really abstained from putting up any monster numbers this season but his impact on the Apes is visible. Since Week 1 he’s made pretty much every correct decision, he uses a hard count to draw defenders, he runs the ball into wide open spaces, completes passes on repeat, and has rarely made a mistake. I think the difference between Francois being here as the undefeated team representative and not Slade, is Francois being the model of what I’ll coin “superstar consistency” he’s automatic. I watch him and see an unphased machine simply out there plowing through teams week after week and his imprint is actively visible on nearly every play. It took a little to get here, but I’ve seen the light, Francois is on the ladder.
3 – Ed Crouch (KOD, QB)
I swear I tried to keep this from being a QB only race but I refuse to keep this man under wraps. While Francois has a more eye test type impact, Crouch makes impacts on the sheets and the field, he’s putting up insane numbers second to basically only Mitch Kidd in the passing game and second to Tirri Jones in the run game however he now leads the FCF in rushing scores (5). When it comes to play making, Crouch has been dialed in all year and as he’s slowly worked his way into game shape, he’s carved out a spot once again in the highest tier of players. I swept him under for awhile, but no longer, welcome to the race Ed.
HM -Joseph Boykin (8oki, WR)
The only non-QB pick this week is Joseph Boykin. We talk about pretty much everyone but him and it is TIME to give him his flowers because phew has he been dominant. Jamiel this, Yedi that, TO this, Jordus that, you get the gist, Joseph leads the entire FCF in:
Receiving yards – 267 (77 more than 2nd place)
Receiving TDs – 5
Receptions – 14
There is nothing but dominance coming from the FCF vet this time around and really the only thing keeping him from rising is he may be heavily benefiting from the MVP level play of his QB, Mitch KIdd. Watching Joseph Boykin closely these next few weeks, he’s slowly building a scary compelling case to turn some heads.
Please keep in mind the ladder above is my personal list, not a committee of voters or anything more official than anyone but myself.