Written by: Kevin Kardasz (@kevinn_up on Twitter)
In previous weeks, we’ve said time and time again that they were the greatest, the best slates of games we’d seen to those points, and this week? We’ll do it again. Week 7 was the best week of FCF that I’ve seen so far. With playoff spots on the line for the majority of the league, we saw heroics, controversy, and hard fought football from every side. We got to see the playoff tie breaker in action, stars reaching the playoffs, and superstars missing them in their wake. The playoffs are set, the road to the People’s Championship has opened for 4 teams once more.
Game 1 – BAFC (20) v Kingpins (24)
The first game was the only one of the day that didn’t have either team competing for anything of true substance. On one hand, the Apes have clinched their spot in the playoffs, and with the Francois injury scare of last week, opted to sit their star quarterback in favor of backup Vidal Woodruff. On the other hand, the Kingpins were the first, and as of the first game’s start time, the only team to be completely eliminated from playoff contention. While neither team was playing for the chance to stay in the Pullman Yards, they still played a great game all things considered.
It’s hard to not look at the Pins season and not wonder what could have been if they figured it out just a little earlier. After this win, they ended the season at 3-4, which puts them one game back of the inevitable playoff chase for the second spot. You can easily draw back to week 1, with 2 seconds on the clock, Mitch Kidd sent a prayer and a long bomb down the field and as time expired, Joseph Boyin caught a game winning TD as defenders hurled themselves at him. Had that play gone the other way, they might have secured a spot in the tiebreaker, rather than a happier flight home.
The Pins fans had a flawlessly executed game. It felt like they stayed calm, and let their play makers make the plays needed to win. They didn’t turn over the ball a single time, although managed to accumulate 4 penalties through the course of the game. Tirri Jones continued to hone his accuracy, and went 5 for 9, which accounted for 54 yards in the air and a touchdown, while also adding a score on the ground. Daryl Virgies also continued to find himself as the value of the powerback remained in question, punching in an early score that set their tone.
The Apes looked about as coordinated as one could look when playing behind their backup and not their franchise cornerstone QB. Vidal put in a 9 for 23 effort, had 104 yards in the air, and threw for a touchdown + an interception, while rushing for 33 yards and another score. On that note, the only players who scored for the Apes were the ones with wood in their names. Darren Woods rushed for 20 yards and a score himself, solidifying one of the most well rounded backfields in the league. Vidal’s turnover was particularly backbreaking, as he closed the half essentially with it and Tirri Jones led the Pins to a score. Even then, the Apes didn’t NEED to win this game, and will be just fine going into the first round of the playoffs.
Game 2 – Shoulda Been Stars (20) v Glacier Boyz (28)
In similar fashion to the last two teams, the Stars entered this matchup with nothing but pride to play for, as they joined the Apes last week as the only two teams to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Glacier Nation faced a much more daunting task, win against the Stars to advance to a tiebreaker later that night against the Zappers or the Beasts, lose and the season is over.
Messy, doesn’t do the first half of this disaster class justice. The game opened with a pretty quick 4 and out by the Stars, which should have directed the momentum right into the desperate Glacier Boyz hands, and then it didn’t. Chris Barrett, who’d spent the last 3 weeks proving his value, began to melt down as he threw his first interception of the half and gave the ball right back. The favor was instantly taken as the Stars would proceed to punch in a score on the ground, and the Boyz would respond with a lightning fast 34 yard rush from Harrison Dreher to stay within range. Slade Jarman responded once again with a 16 yard strike to Tyis Boykin and pulled ahead again, and then the FCF happened. 1:05 on the clock before halftime would be eaten by a Chris Barrett interception followed by a Slade Jarman fumble, and finally the first half would close down.
Starting the second half, the Glacier Boyz who are absolutely no strangers to a QB change, came out with the self named “Fatrick Mahomes”, Brandon Pearson. He may not have been the needle that moved the tides of this game, but he did just enough to keep the Boyz in it. Instead Brycen Alleyne would shoulder this one, as he rushed for 2 scores in the second half and powered the offense to the pivotal win to keep their season alive. Yet, with the game within reach for the Stars, and a QB change for them in the half as well (D’vonn Gibbons), they fumbled it away. For the second time this week, a Stars QB fumbled into the Boyz hands and this time, it was returned for a score. For now, the Glacier Boyz season is alive as they advance to the tiebreaker after game 4.
Game 3 – 8oki (36) v KOD (30)
Possibly the greatest FCF game of all time, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart, this game was great. Let’s paint the picture, the Knights are a game up on 8oki, and in turn have a chance to win and get into the playoffs. They made a big mid-season trade for Terrell Owens and Jacoby Herring, and have by far the largest point differential in the FCF, everything rides on this. 8oki, is in a more pressing spot, they not only have to win this game to stay alive, but then must win the tiebreaker right after. This felt like a playoff game, both sides were fighting for their spot, and the intensity was the highest we’ve seen this season.
8oki started the game with a very long, daunting, 10 minute drive to open the game up with a score on a wrap-around to Joseph Boykin. It’s important to note that for the last few weeks, Boykin has been pretty well contained, and has been shutout completely of catching a single pass in some instances. The Knights then responded with their own, long and drawn out 8 minute drive to score on the usual Crouch rush around a defense. However, this long score came at the cost of their 5th down powerup very early on in their game, this is crucial later.
With 1:45 left in the half, 8oki could slowly pace themselves to a quick-ish score and enter the half with a slight lead, which would be important considering the Knights got the ball to start the second half. Instead, the 8oki’s continued their trend of sloppy ends to first halves and Mitch Kidd threw a rushed interception right to the Knights, which was then quickly returned as a TD in the form of a Terrell Owens grab. Terrell from this point forward was on fire, at least his emotions were, as he lit up both sides of the 8oki ball with trash talk.
With the team down a score, the 8oki’s were now in a position where they would play from behind just as they’ve done every week. Backs pressed against the wall, the D-Block would push for a crucial 4 and out to start the second half which gave Mitch Kidd the ball back. For the second time, Kidd would repeat the same wrap-around play and feed the ball right back to Boykin for a 19 yard score to get within striking distance but would also fail the extra point try and remain behind.
Crouch came back, drove in a collected manner and punched in another score in the air with an 11 yard pass to Jacoby Herring, meaning both receivers the Knights traded for had then caught crucial TD passes in this win and in game. Coupled with the score, the extra point made it a 10 point game and put the game in 2 score reach with 5:32 to go. For the 4th time this season, the 8oki’s entered the comeback rule threshold of 5 minutes with a chance to storm back, and they responded.
Kidd would lead a 3 minute drive down the field punctuated by a Patrick Smith touchdown reception that got the 8oki’s within 2 points, and with 1:47 left on the clock they would activate the comeback rule. Kidd dropped back, surveyed, and hit Joseph Boykin on a 12 yard cut to the outside, the season stayed alive. Three failed plays later, a brutal yet obvious 32 yard pass interference call sent the 8oki’s to the goal line where Malcolm Ballard powered in the score to put the 8oki’s up 6.
0:26 on the clock, 8oki with the wheel in hand, just a few plays and they advance to the tie breaker. Then…Ed Crouch broke off a 40 yard rush for a score in a single play, and put the Knights back in front with 17 seconds to go, and the tides had turned once again. Mitch “The Magician” Kidd, entered the huddle, called off the fan voted go routes, and dropped back. Terrell Owens from the endzone, yelled for Marquise Cain to use the wall, “don’t get beat”, and the play began. Joseph Boykin on the left, Patrick Smith on the right, and Kidd tested Cain, and threw a ball deep to Smith. Smith doubled back, jumped nearly over Cain, and grabbed the ball over Cain’s head as he crashed out at the 5 yard line. Malcolm Ballard followed with a last second TD rush, and tiredly exclaimed to the crowd “I ain’t going home. I ain’t going home.” and at that moment? 8oki wasn’t going home, the season extended even just 20 more minutes, as for the second week in a row they beat an opponent that seemed to be just a bit ahead of them.
Showdown 1 – 8oki v KOD
From the outside, the Knights had a distinct advantage in this man up challenge. The rules were simple. 3 attempts with 3 different receivers and DB’s for each team in the man up drill, whichever team scores more in the 3 drills (or more if tied), moves on. The Knights had Herring and TO at their disposal on offense as well as Stiggers and Lee on defense, and looked to finish what they couldn’t in the game.
It wasn’t even close. Mitch Kidd began the showdown with an easy completion to Smith, and went up 1-0 as the Knights couldn’t follow up and fell behind quickly. Kidd wasted no time, lined up, and completed his second to Boykin, going up 2-0. With the season on the line, Crouch dropped back for the Knights, and his pass was quickly broken up, the Knights season came to a close as the 8oki’s swept the Knights in the shootout. Congratulations to Mitch Kidd and his squad for making what seemed impossible, possible, 8oki has reached the playoffs.
Game 4 – Zappers (42) v Beasts (38)
In the second game of the night session, we got yet another incredible showing between two very different teams this time. With the Glacier Boyz win earlier in the day, the Zappers and Beasts now had to win to get into the tie breaking shootout, and they fought to the end for it. Now, I would put this above the previous game in terms of greatness…if not for how it wrapped, we’ll get to that later.
The Beasts opened the game in similar fashion to the last, a long drawn out 8 minute drive that ended in a 21 yard pass from Alphonso Howard that sent Jordus Smith to the endzone. They missed on the extra point but merely 5 game seconds later, it blew into the wind as Deshawn Benton intercepted Kelly Bryant and took it all the way back to the endzone to put the beasts up 12-0 early. Bryant, who missed time due to a knee strain, was pressed into a tight position immediately and went to aid the bleeding.
Bryant responded with a 19 yard TD pass to Shuncee Thomas, and looked to start clawing back but was nearly immediately stopped. Alphonso Howard ripped off a 36 yard TD pass to Jordus Smith and the scoring didn’t stop. Kelly Bryant would rush for a score, Howard would feed a well thrown ball right into Lamarcus Caradine’s hands to respond, and Kelly Bryant once again would respond with a big man touchdown in a clash of backwards passes and brutal running. The Zappers would head into halftime down 4 (24-20), but would also receive the ball to start the second half.
In a flurry of offense that never seemed to stop, Kelly Bryant threw a 7 yard TD pass, Jordus Smith rushed for a TD, Bryant followed and rushed for another TD, Alphonso Howard hit Jordus on a 40 yard TD pass, and finally it stopped. With the score at 38-34 and the Beasts in front, Kelly Bryant seemed to throw the game away.
With 30 seconds left in the game, Bryant threw an interception, and with his team being down 4, it looked like the end. The Zappers fought through an 0-4 start, they beat the odds at every point until now, and finally the road had come to an end. Until it opened back up. In an all time level controversial call, Alphonso Howard leapt from the pocket and was spun down, as he hit the ground, the ball in his hand popped free, Joe Grogan of the Zappers recovered and took it to the house. Howard was down by contact, but it went to fan review, and regardless of what happened, the fans chose the Zappers. The call was upheld, as the Zappers closed the game on a Howard interception to move onto the tie breaker.
Showdown 2 – Zappers v Glacier Boyz
It’s been a bit of a miracle season for both sides of this shootout. The Zappers have overcome a Terrell Owens trade, a QB carousel for the ages, and an 0-4 start for this opportunity. The Boyz have fought through 3 starting QB changes, an up and down season, and have clawed for this chance.
Both teams whiffed on their first round, as the DBs clobbered the WRs, and both teams hit their second rounds as they went into the final round tied 1-1. Kelly Bryant went first, dropped back, and completed his 3rd round, giving the Zappers a chance to close out the Boyz. They did. Brandon Pearson whiffed as the final round expired, and the Boyz season ended, while the Miracle on Menerey’s street continued for the Zappers. Onwards for a team one defined by its celebrity players, they have life once again.