Monday, 09 April 2012 03:35

2011 Championship Game

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DC Warriors 28, Montgomery County Bearcats 26

2011-all-star-champs

2011 Championship Game Recap
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Montgomery County Bearcats 26, DC Warriors 28

The 2nd Championship game in GYFL history would have a very difficult time matching the excitement, pageantry, and thrilling nature of the inaugural Championship game the year before. Last year’s game was a double overtime nail biter with the Baltimore Metro Stallions beating the DC Warriors 12 – 6 with a game winning touchdown. How on earth could we even come close to matching that?

Low and behold, this game did not disappoint and was just as thrilling as last year’s game if not more, as the Montgomery County Bearcats down 2 points in the final minute of the game found themselves with the ball and a chance to finish off a heroic comeback after it looked like they might get blown off the field in the first half by the hungry Warriors, still smarting after last year’s heartbreak.

Montgomery County started off fast. They took the opening kickoff and marched down behind the legs of the GYFL’s leading rusher Antoine “Junior” Assemian, but a fumbled snap by QB Brian Strittmatter stalled the drive. DC took over and after a 14 yard completion to Lorenzo “Lo Lo” Harrison got them in scoring position, the Bearcats turned the tables with a spectacular interception and return by Zack Ralli from his linebacker position. Zack was lights out all day long making tackles all over the field and had the Bearcats been able to complete the comeback, he would have been the player of the game.

It was a defensive struggle at the outset with DC sacking Strittmatter and forcing a fumble, which was recovered by the Warriors. On the very next play, Harvey Ragsdale came into the game at QB to spell Rashard Cooper and launched a perfect deep bomb down the left sideline to a streaking Kenneth Holmes who had beaten his defender. Holmes caught the ball and cut back on the safety, who had over pursued and finished off the 48 yard TD pass in style. Holmes had an amazing game on offense, defense and in the kicking game and was the crowd favorite for MVP. After the 2 point conversion the Warriors were up 8 – 0 and the heels of the quick strike spread offense that has been perfected by Head Coach Maurice “Bink” Vaughn and taught well to his young disciples.

On the next possession for the Warriors, started by a 43 yard punt return by Holmes, Ragsdale struck again. This time he hit Navon “Skully” Prince on a quick post for the 9 yard TD pass and after the conversion, DC was out in front 16 – 0. The Bearcats, led by veteran coach Andy Steffanelli looked a bit shocked, but educated observers know that the coaching staff would not panic. On the ensuing kickoff, Myles Robinson showed the crowd why they shouldn’t lose faith by breaking off a blistering 90 yard kickoff return for a TD. He got some great blocks from his teammates on the play and cut the lead to 16 – 6 after the failed extra point.

On the next possession for DC, wide receivers were sprinting down the field wide open on multiple plays and Cooper, who has had a fantastic year, was not able to connect with any of them. He was overthrowing receivers on this day. Then Trevon Diggs, younger brother of Stefon Diggs of Good Counsel fame, stepped in front of a Cooper pass and snagged it out of the air. He returned it 20 yards to put the Bearcats back in business. Unfortunately, Brian Strittmatter, the Bearcat QB was off a bit on this day as well and threw an untimely interception to Cooper, who also plays DB.

Ragsdale was back in at QB and had an unbelievable day through the air. He was 6/6 for 131 yards and 3 TD’s and threw his 3rd one of the day to Lo Lo Harrison on gorgeous 26 yard pass right over the Bearcat safeties. The score was 22 – 6 and the half ended that way with it looking like a track meet that the Warriors may just run away with. But that was not meant to be.

The Warriors got a little cocky on their first possession of the second half and went for 4th down in their own territory. When they didn’t get it, the Bearcats took over and decided to pound it behind their formidable offensive line that has been opening gaping holes all summer for their bevy of talented running backs. This time it was Assemian taking it in for the 9 yard TD to close the gap to 22 to 12 in the 3rd.   Cooper started to calm down and heat up a bit and drove the Warriors down the field on the next possession. He used his feet and his arm and eventually found Lo Lo in the end zone on a 4 yard post pattern to push the score to 28 - 12. Montgomery County refused to go away though.

After a sack on Cooper and a fumble, recovered by the Bearcats, they had the ball in scoring territory again and leaned on Assemian who powered in a 6 yard TD run to close the gap to 28 – 18. The DC Warriors were getting concerned. They had dominated the game statistically and moved the ball up and down the field, but turnovers were killing them and keeping the opportunistic Bearcats in the game. At this point in the 4th quarter a little used 7th grade running back named Travon Stott moved into the tailback position. Montgomery County was 4 deep at tailback and on any given Saturday any one of them could go for 100 yards behind that offensive line, but on this drive Stott would not be denied. He lowered his shoulder on runs of 9 yards, 20 yards, and 9 yard consecutively. On the 20 yard run he was just bouncing off of defenders and keeping his legs moving. His play seemed to ignite the Bearcats and give them confidence.

After a 15 yard bootleg by Strittmatter that had another 15 yards added on a horse collar penalty, Montgomery County was knocking on the door again! Assemian, who was inspired by Stott, lowered his shoulder and bulled over defenders on his way to a 10 yard TD run to close the gap even further. After Daqwan Hill converted the 2 point play, the score was 28 – 26 with less than three minutes to play.

Montgomery County tried an onside kick that was successfully fielded by Lo Lo Harrison and it looked like the Warriors were going to milk the clock. But, the Warriors are always in attack mode and chose to attack the defense again. Only this time they picked on the wrong Bearcat. Zack Ralli, who had been all over the field making tackles and already had one interception, made his second interception on a beautifully timed jump under a DC defender. The Bearcats had a shot to win the ball game if they could go down and score!

The DC defense stood tall with their back against the wall and forced a turnover on downs. They tried to run out the clock but coach Steffanelli used his time outs perfectly and they were able to stop the Warriors and force a turnover on downs with 13 seconds left in the game. The Bearcats had a shot from their own 50 yard line. They would be able to get off at least two plays and couldn’t have a better coach calling the plays for them. What they didn’t anticipate as the DC defense swarming the QB and sacking Strittmatter. He was able to spike the ball with 1 second on the clock from the Bearcat 45 yard line. How is that for drama!!!!

The championship game came down to the very last play. After a conference with the coaches the play was called. Strittmatter was in the shotgun and fielded the snap. Lo Lo Harrison was blitzing and came right through the line forcing Strittmatter to roll out to his right as time expired. He escaped and got the corner. He looked up field and found his star WR/DB Roger Richardson open and hit him at about the 35 yard line, with many defenders around him. Richardson was able to lateral the ball backwards to one of his teammates, who caught it and tried to lateral it back one more time. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, the last lateral fell to the ground and the game was over!

The Bearcats left the field dejected. The Warriors were jubilant. What a game we saw. The kids played so hard and it was a shame that anyone had to lose. The game was dedicated to the memory of Norman Anderson, who was the father of the GYFL president, Michael Anderson. Norman passed away the day before the game on July 1st and Michael gave a heart-warming speech before the game imploring those kids to play their hearts out in memory of this father. Boy did they do just that. We know that Norman was in heaven smiling on that day, with a whistle around his neck and as proud as could be.

Final Score:

District of Columbia Warriors 28, Montgomery County Bearcats 26

 

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

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