Braves Overcome Turnovers to Beat Celtics 18-7

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Braves (orange) line up in a four wide formation. Picture by: Sean Goodwin

Back to the Blue division I went for this weeks flag football article.  There were two matchups that caught my eye looking at the schedule for this past Monday. Hellagoods were playing Straight Flags, and the Braves were going against the Celtics.  After an easy blowout win from Hellagoods I knew Celtics and Braves would be my game to cover.  The Buffalo Celtics brought a 2-0 record, and a week off due to a bye they had last week.  The Buffalo Braves had a 2-1 record, and were coming off a tight 11 point victory against No Limit last week.

The Celtics and the Braves were number one and number two in points allowed coming into the game.  However the Braves were able to get off to a quick start on offense.  Braves quarterback Chris Lonzi was able to complete four of his first five throws on the first drive.  His last pass was a short dump off to Dame Powell who dodged several defenders before scampering to the end zone for the games first score.  After a miscue between Leseaon and Lonzi on the PAT the score was 6-0 Braves.  The Celtics came into the game without their regular QB Terrell, and instead went with the big 6’ 6’’ Ace under center for the game.  Their first drive got off to a good start, but they failed to score from just outside the end zone on fourth and goal.  However, the Celtics defense made their first great play of the night on the Braves first play following the turnover on downs.  Daryl Rose made a fantastic leaping play on the ball and picked off Lonzi who rushed the throw.  Ace lead the offense back on the field for another try at scoring from short yardage on the goal line.  However, they just went backwards as their first three plays of the drive went sack, sack, and an interception by Brian Stevens in the end zone.  Dame was calling out for the sacks lead as he had both of those two sacks off great individual speed rushes.  The interception fest continued as the next two plays went for interceptions.  Rich Anderson made unbelievable diving catch on throw away from Lonzi.  It had me thinking off Troy Polamalu against the Chargers many years ago.  Lonzi made up for the mistake immediately by picking off Ace on the Celtics first play of their drive.  The score at halftime ended up at 6-0 Braves in the lead.

Celtics did not play great offense in the first half, and I could tell offense was the topic of improvement in their halftime huddle.  They had the ball at the start of the second half, and took just three plays to get their first touchdown of the game.  Robert Malave finally made a play in the game and got wide open on a great route for a 38 yard touchdown.  Celtics bench erupted in cheer as they finally found a crack in the Braves defense.  Things got even better for the Celtics when Daryl Rose picked off Lonzi again on the next drive.  The Celtics offense, again, could not capitalize off their interception.  Braves brought relentless pressure to Ace who looked exactly like a last minute fill in at quarterback.  The Braves on the other hand got the tie breaking touchdown on a deep 51 yard touchdown from Lonzi to Leseaon.  Leseaon ran a fantastic post route, and the Celtics safety was nowhere to be found as Leseaon walked across the end line.  Yusef would add a pick six on the final play and the Braves had upset undefeated Celtics 18-7.

The player of the game was pretty much decided at halftime as Dame Powell was the best player on both sides of the ball for the Braves.  He had 4 receptions for 82 yards and a score, and had two straight plays of sacks when Celtics had a first and goal at the one.  Leseaon added continued to score touchdowns as he has had at least one in three straight games for the Braves.  Lonzi also was able to shake off four interceptions, and make the big time throw in the clutch to Leseaon for the winning score.  The Celtics will try to rebound against winless Straight Flags next week while Braves get a rematch with Hellagoods, who handed the Braves their only loss this season back in week one.

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Game of the Week: Reynolds hat trick lifts Helltwigs over Regulation Hair Loss

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WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – Regulation Hair Loss took on Helltwigs in a Tuesday Roller Hockey Blue matchup this past Tuesday. Helltwigs went into the game with the goal of holding the top spot in the standings with a win, while Regulation Hair Loss were aiming to leapfrog Spartans for second place with a win.

Within the span of one minute, Helltwigs forward Brandon Reynolds scored two out of his three goals on the night. It was 2-0 Helltiwgs, when Regulation Hair Loss forward Aaron Crane had two great chances to get his team on the board, but he hit the post twice in a matter of seconds. Regulation Hair Loss were able to convert when Sean Tate got his team on the board with a wrister from the slot to make the score 2-1 with 12:21 left.

After a nice glove save made by Regulation Hair Loss goalie Jacob Szyczak, the team took the ensuing faceoff in from own zone down the ice for a two-on-one and converted. It was Crane who made up for his past two clunkers by tying the score with 8:45 left in the first half. Reynolds responded by completing his first half hat trick with 3:32 left to give Helltwigs a 3-2 lead. That was the score at halftime.

Five minutes into the second half, Helltwigs’ Chris Kreuger scroed his first off the night after a nice drop back pass from Reynolds. With 9:31 left, the Kreguer-Reynolds connection flashed again to give Helltwigs a commanding 5-2 lead. Helltwigs held their dominating lead for most of the second half. Crane broke through Helltwigs’ stranglehold of the game when he scored with 3:34 left to make it 5-3.

Crane’s goal warranted Regulation Hair Loss to pull their goalie with just under two minutes left in the game, but with 49 seconds left Helltwigs iced the game with an empty net goal.

Final Score: Helltwigs 6 Regulation Hair Loss 3

Shots on Goal: Helltwigs 27 Regualation Hair Loss 20

To see standings, stats, and more head to epic-center.com.

 

 

Drip Squad Hands Warkron their First Loss

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Open Field 1 before Mondays action. Photo by: Sean Goodwin

For my second article of the winter session I decided to cover a game from our green division. It is the recreational league, but I still was able to pick a pretty good game.  Warkron vs Drip Squad was the second game of the night.  Warkron was undefeated coming into the game with a 2-0 record.  Drip Squad was coming off a double header where they split and went 1-1.  Leading the way for Drip Squad was their quarterback Marcus who threw a total of eight touchdowns in the two games last week.  They also had Leseaon who usually plays for the Braves in the green division. He caught three touchdowns last week.  Warkron was lead by their quarterback Harry, and their stout defense lead by Dunn, and Max Brady.

Drip Squad wanted the ball first, and they got it for QB Marcus who was on fire early on completing five of his first six passes.  However, they ended up turning the ball over to Warkron due to a crucial miss throw on fourth down from Marcus.  Harry then lead his offense on to the field and started his day off with 26 yard completion to Dunn. Their ended up being an illegal substitution call on Matt, and the play came back as well as backed up Warkron to their goal line.  On the very next play Joe P picked off a short throw from Harry and took it to the house untouched.  Then after a quick four and out from Warkron, Joe P scored again taking a deep pass from Marcus thirty yards to put Drip Squad up 14-0. Things just got worse for Harry and Warkron.  They went four and out on their next drive, and then preceded to give up a touchdown and then a safety on consecutive plays.  22-0 was the halftime score.

Warkron was able to play better defense in the second half.  They held Drip Squad to only one touchdown, and they scored themselves when Max Brady picked off Leseaon and took it all the way. Leseaon came in for Marcus when the game was 28-0. After a fumble in the end zone from Marcus the game ended 28-8.  Drip Squad always looked the better side on the night, and played fantastic defense on Warkron.  Players of the game for Drip Squad were both fantastic on defense and offense.  Marcus lead the offense to the big lead, and had a rushing touchdown and a throwing touchdown.  Joe P, in his first start for the team, had a pick six and caught that touchdown thrown by Marcus.  Warkron will have to improve next week if they want to have any shot of beating 3-0 No Fly Zone.  Drip Squad will play 0-2 Shimmey Shimmey next week.

Game of the Week: Mad Lads blank Mes Que

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Mad Lads United (orange) and Mes Que FC (black) shake hands after the game. Picture by Franklin Heinzmann.

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – I’ve been working at the Epic Center for a year and a half. Back when I started timekeeping and covering games for ECSR, GPS would roll over Manchesthair United seemingly every time. Now you’re asking yourself, ‘who are those teams?’ They are previous reincarnations of Mes Que FC and Mad Lads United respectively. Well things have changed in a year and a half and it showed on Tuesday as Mad Lads defeated Mes Que by a score of 4-0.

Mad Lads United forward Lucas Metzger got things started with a goal with 16:14 left Throughout the first half, Mes Que’s gameplan, including an unconventional 2-3-1 formation, was canceled out by Mad Lads’ 3-1-2 formation. The defense and midfielders of Mad Lads did a great job of clogging the midfield and preventing the Mes Que defense getting it to their midfielders. With 5:30 left, Matt Kruszewski scored Mad Lads’ second goal. His goal was the last goal scored before the halftime buzzer.

With the score 2-0 at halftime, each team took their halftime preparations differently. Mad Lads stressed that they couldn’t ease up because they were aware of how good Mes Que had been in the past. Mes Que was very quiet and tense in their game planning.

Ostap Tkalich scored Mad Lads’ third goal in in the opening moments of the second half. With about 16 minutes left, Mad Lads switched to a five-at-the-back formation, inviting pressure form Mes Que. Mes Que took advantage and put more shots on goal, but none of them got past the goalkeeper. Through the first half of the second half (or in the third quarter of the game if you want to think of it that way) alone, shots were 5-2 Mes Que, but they couldn’t convert.

To put the nail in the coffin, Kevin O’ Sullivan scored his first goal of the session with 5:44 left to make the score 4-0 Mad Lads United. Mes Que were playing with only seven total players, and their collective fatigue really showed on the last goal and for the rest of the game.

Final Score: Mad Lads United 4 Mes Que FC 0

Shots on Goal: Mes Que 13 Mad Lads United 12

To see standings, stats, and more head to epic-center.com.

Buffalo Braves throttles Straight Flags 35-6 for their first win of the season

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Braves (orange) huddle before a play.  Picture by: Sean Goodwin

It is the second week of the new session for flag football here at the Epic Center.  I decided to wait to write an article till the second week, and that came this past Monday night.  Runner up champions, Buffalo Braves, played their second game of the season against a new team this year in Straight Flags.  Braves had a 0-1 record following their championship rematch last week versus Hellagoods.  Quarterback Chris Lonzi had an okay game for him as he rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns, but had three costly interceptions down the stretch.  Meanwhile for Straight Flags, this was their second game of a double header having lost to No Limit by thirty points in the prior game. Their quarterback Messina was excited to get that loss back with an upset of the Braves to cap off the night.

The Braves had the first possession of the night, and proceeded to go three and out.  Lonzi looked off target with his receivers on three straight plays, and only managed to get one completion to Mohammed Saleh.   However, this was before the Braves newest player was able to suit up for offense for the first time of the season.  Leseaon Washington has taken his talents to Buffalo Braves team this season.  He was runner up in interceptions last sessions.  He caught the first touchdown of the game on a nice corner route from five yards out, following a terrific back shoulder throw from Lonzi.  Then it was the other new player for Braves who took over, and his name was Sean 2.0.  He finished the game with three touchdown catches in his first game playing at the Epic Center.  You can imagine how much his chemistry will improve with Lonzi as the season goes on.

Straight Flags played exactly as they looked before the game.  A team with not a lot of experience who is  playing their second game of a back to back with only one sub.  Even with some good rushes from Messina, and the other numerous players who tried QB, they were not able to sustain drives together and only scored six points the entire game. The final score ended up being 35-6 in favor of the Braves.  I have to mention how much credit needs to be given to the Braves defense on the day.  All four of their players who played on the defensive line got a sack in the game.  Lonzi played terrific at Line Backer and lead the team in flag grabs with seven.  The Buffalo Braves will face off against another 1-1 team next week in No Limit.  Straight Flags will have to take their 0-2 record against 1-1 Hellagoods who narrowly lost to Buffalo Celtics on the same day.

Game of the Week: Bolts blitz past Crystal Palace

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A Crystal Palace defender (black) attempts to clear the puck past a Queen City Bolts forward (white). Picture by Franklin Heinzmann.

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – Before heading off to see relatives for Thanksgiving, I covered Crystal Palace vs the defending Tuesday Roller Hockey Green champions, the Queen City Bolts. The Bolts dominated in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and goaltending. Their persistent control of the game was what gave them an 8-3 win to open up the session. 

The Bolts scored most of their goals in pairs. Two quick goals by Ed Sudik and #8 propelled Queen City to a 2-0 lead right out of the gates. With 12:20 left in the first half, they earned their first powerplay, but it was Crystal Palace who took advantage. Jason Fullone scored his first of the game shorthanded to make it 2-1. From there on it was all Bolts for the rest of the half.

Charles Smith scored with 9:39 left, and off the ensuing faceoff he assisted Elliott Smith for Queen City’s fourth goal of the half. After a nice save by Crystal Palace goalie Mike Sante, Brian Faraci scored with 2:34 left. Off the ensuing faceoff he scored again to make it 6-1 Bolts (remember, they mostly scored in pairs). Ed Sudik added his second of the night just before the halftime buzzer.

The score at halftime was 7-1. The Bolts had 13 shots on net to Crystal Palace’s four.

To open up the second half, Charles Smith added his second of the game to bring the Bolts goal total up to eight. As the game wore on things got chippy between both teams. A total of three penalties were handed out amongst both teams in the second half, including a bench minor assessed to Queen City for taunting.

In an effort to drain the clock and not blow a 7 goal lead, Queen City dominated possession throughout the half. That didn’t stop James R. and Kevin Cook of Crystal Palace from making their mark on the box score late in the game. However, their two goals weren’t enough to surmount Queen City.

Final Score: Queen City Bolts 8 Crystal Palace 3

Shots on Goal: Queen City Bolts 29 Crystal Palace 13

Next week, Crystal Palace plays Puckin’ Monkeys and Queen City plays Team Wheels.

If a player doesn’t directly give me their last name or last initial, then they’re identity is protected on Epic Center Sports Report. These aren’t professional athletes, just people who play a recreational sport at the Epic Center.

To see the standings, stats, and more head to epic-center.com.

Championship Game goes to OT as Hellagoods claim their first title

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Hellagoods team photo.  Picture by: Sean Goodwin

It was my first championship flag football game I was covering, and writing about for the Epic Center sports report.  It turned out to be more than a close game, as overtime was needed to decide the fall session football champion.  It was a matchup between regular season champions Hellagoods (5-1) and second place Buffalo Braves (4-2).  Hellagoods tremendous record was due mostly to the play of league MVP Mike Ford.  Ford lead the league in almost every passing category while missing the teams first game.  Their defense was no slouch during the year with the league leader in interceptions, Robert Malave, leading the team on the defensive side.  The Braves came in riding their hot offense.  John Heberling was the league leader in touchdowns during the regular season, and throwing him the ball was QB Chris Lonzi who finished as the runner up for MVP.  Their defense was lead the way by sack master Cory Jones, and Lonzi who played tremendous defense for the team all season.

I expected the game to be low scoring, because of the tremendous defense both teams were capable of playing.  After Hellagoods scored on their first drive, there was no more scoring for the entire second half. The Braves first drive ended with a turnover on downs, following a touchdown that was called back.  It was fourth and one from around the mid field line. Lonzi was able to find Dave Wilburn deep for a 40 yard bomb, which was then called back on an offensive pass interference.  The Braves defense was able to recover, as Heberling picked off Ford on the following drive and went on to keep Hellagoods scoreless for the rest of the half.  The score was 8-0 in favor of Hellagoods at the end of the first half.

The Braves had the ball to start the second half, and started with a quick pass to Cory Jones for a five yard gain.  The Braves then tried to catch Hellagoods on their heels as Lonzi tried to throw a deep pass to Jones, but was intercepted by Leseaon.  Leseaon had a terrific game on defense as he was locking down his side of the field, and the first time ball went his way he snatched it right out of the air.  However, after a quick three and out from Hellagoods, Lonzi and the Braves finally got on the scoreboard with a eight yard touchdown to John Heberling.  Heberling also caught the two point conversion, and the score was quickly 8-8.  Things went from bad to worse on the next drive for Hellagoods as league MVP Ford had to come out of the game on fourth down due to an injury.  Terrell would come on as QB for Hellagoods, but was unable to convert the fourth down.  Braves took advantage of the field position and Lonzi scored on a 30 yard rush to put the Braves up 14-8.  Terrell also had a rushing touchdown to even the score up at 14-14 with just a minute remaining in the half.

The overtime rules for Epic Center are similar to college football rules where each team is given four plays to score a touchdown starting at the halfway line.  Whichever team had the most points after both teams drive would win the game.  Braves had the first drive, but only went backwards as Kyle Roy collected his third sack of the game on first down.  Braves could not score which meant all Hellagoods had to do was score a point, and the championship was theirs.  They did exactly that on third down from ten yards out, Terrell rolled right and found Robert Malave in the back of the end zone for the championship winning, walk-off touchdown.  The game ended 20-14 in overtime, in favor of Hellagoods.

If I could give a team MVP award, I would have to give it to the entire defense of Hellagoods.  They played a terrific game, and held one of the leagues most potent offense to 14 points for two quarters and overtime.  In addition to Leseaon, and Malave, Kyle Roy was in the backfield the entire game.  Derek Mcgee at linebacker played tremendous, and lead the team in tackles.  I have to give a shoutout to Terrell, who came in for injured Ford, and led Hellagoods to a scoring drive as well as the game winning drive in overtime.  Braves, and Hellagoods will be playing in our upcoming session, and Hellagoods will look to repeat as champions.