August 02, 2008


THEY DID IT! THEY DID IT! My city's minor-league arena football team, the Manchester Wolves, the seventh seed in the af2 playoffs, beat the No. 2-seeded South Georgia Wildcats! I can't believe it! They did it! What a game! I have never seen a more exciting fourth quarter in arena football. Holy Toledo!

I can only imagine what it was like in person down in Albany, Ga. As it happened, I watched it on my computer here at home, using the af2's particularly spiffy television feed. What an exciting last few minutes. Here's how it went down. With four minutes or so to go, Manchester is driving down the field, down 42-39 to the Wildcats. Quarterback James Pinkney throws a neat pass to wide receiver Emery Sammons, who caught the ball at about the five yard line. It wasn't clear what happened next -- whether the ball popped out after Sammons was down or he was stripped of it -- but suddenly, the officials ruled it was a fumble and South Georgia recovered it in the endzone.

Uh oh, I thought to myself. Now we're in trouble. It had been a tough go all night, and the Wildcats now had the upper hand. A few plays later, they seemed well on their way to scoring and getting a crucial two-possession lead. But thanks to some beautiful defensive play, we stopped them on downs. Now, we had the momentum again and had the ball on our nine-yard line. After heading back down the field, Pinkney threw a tough pass to Sammons, and the ball bounced off Sammons' fingertips, took a crazy jump, and one of the South Georgia cornerbacks somehow managed to intercept the ball with about a minute on the clock. Now, we're doomed! I thought.

All South Georgia had to do was get positive yardage and they would have been able to run out the clock. On the very next play, they fumbled the ball on the snap. The Wolves recovered on what looked to be the South Georgia four-yard-line. Oh. My. God. Then the South Georgia center complained to the officials, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Half the distance. Then South Georgia's coach got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Half the distance again!

A touchdown came soon after, and we were up, 46-42. But there were 56 seconds left on the clock, and with the one-minute timing rules in effect, scoring would have been pretty easy for the Wildcats. But boy did the Wolves step up. Not only did South Georgia have to use all four downs to get a first down, on the next play their quarterback screwed up spiking the ball. Don't ask me how that turned into a fumble, but suddenly, the Wildcats had to use their last time out. Then, again, the Wolves stopped them on downs. All we had to do was run out the clock, and we were able to do so thanks to a defensive penalty.

Oh. My. God. We beat South Georgia. A team that had won seven games in a row. A team that beat league-best Spokane in Spokane. A team that won the American Conference's South Division title. We beat them. You can't ask for more than that.

Now, on to Green Bay and victory!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at August 2, 2008 10:11 PM | TrackBack
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