Written by: Kevin Kardasz (@kevinn_up on Twitter)
It happened, and I can’t say I’d have ever guessed this day would come. We saw flashes of greatness come from a Zapper team that looked dead in the water after starting the season 0-4, but this was unprecedented. It took a legendary regular season rally with a little help from superstar QB Kelly Bryant to crack an improbable playoff berth. They moved on to face the top seeded OG team, the Shoulda Been Stars, and they scratched and clawed to an upset victory to advance to the championship.
The Apes took a vastly different path, they were far from an underdog story as they crushed the regular season with seeming ease and even got to rest their starters down the stretch. They started off 4-0, the complete opposite of the Zappers, and when it came down to it, they faced a dangerous 8oki squad in the divisional round. It took surviving a nearly historic comeback to advance to the championship game where QB Deondre Francois would get his second chance at a championship.
It wasn’t exactly a close game, in fact it was surprisingly tilted in favor of the underdogs for nearly all 60 minutes. The Apes had 6 more first downs, 14 more plays called, won the time of possession battle by about 12 minutes, and yet they faced a deficit of 18 points. They only scored twice in the first half, but the damage wasn’t done there, it was done on a gang tackle. As the game drew on star QB Francois attempted to escape the pocket as he was met by 3 defenders and got thrown to the ground. He didn’t emerge from the pile, he was helped off the field by the training staff and for the rest of the game noticeably limped nearly every step he took.
The Zappers were led by what I’m willing to declare the greatest single game FCF QB performance in league history, Kelly Bryant made it happen on the biggest stage. He went 11-13 in the air, throwing for 1 touchdown one interception and a hyper efficient 114 yards. Not only that, but his 9 carries for 58 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns solidified one of the most electrifying performances the pullman yards had seen. He won the QB battle by a mile, Francois failed to connect on a single score in the air, he tossed an interception, and went 12 for 19 in the air for 115 yards. (6 more attempts for 1 more yard)
While the game wasn’t particularly close, it had its outbursts. Kelly Bryant throwing a deep interception that gave the Apes a lifeline that was returned by an interception out of the hand of Deondre Francois epitomized the night the Apes had, a frustrating one. Vidal Woodruff getting stuffed on a 5th down attempt early in the game added to a long list of unfortunate plays that didn’t go the Apes way. Meanwhile the Zappers barely had trouble scoring on a single drive, and it came on the back of you know who.
In the end, a Shuncee Thomas rushing score as the clock dwindled drove a nail deep into the coffin, and the celebration began. (Final Score: Zappers 42 – Apes 24) Johnny Manziel didn’t suit up, but he was cheering on the sidelines with the rest as the Cinderella season came to a close. The buzzer sounded, and the game wrapped with money confetti, champagne, and a trophy given to a fanbase that needed it so desperately. Kelly Bryant, was given the final Gatorade Player of the Game, and was also given the People’s Championship Game MVP for his heroics.
It felt surreal to see the red and yellow championship banners rise as the game ended, it capped the most improbable, seemingly impossible run of all time. Last season we saw the Aces use fan domination to win from start to finish. This season felt like a re-run with the Apes at times, but as the FCF goes, chaos won. Congratulations Zappers, you did what few outside of your circles thought was possible, you’re champions.
Stay tuned for season recap in the coming days, as well as whatever comes next. Everyone who’s worked on the news this season thanks each and every reader, and hopefully we’ll see you all for the next. Happy off-season!