Number one versus number two. There is no better matchup then this in all of sports, and this past Monday I covered the second matchup of the year between the Buffalo Braves and Hellagoods. The rivalry between these two is as storied as any at the Epic Center this year, and we all remember Hellagoods overtime walk off win over Braves for the championship last session. This season is an entire new campaign however, as one of Hellagoods best players from that championship session Leseaon Washington now plays for the Braves. Meanwhile Hellagoods, added one of the best players from Pup N’ Suds team last session in Dean Thompson. Dean just so happens to lead the league in touchdowns this year with six, followed closely behind by Leseaon who has five. Both players scored in the teams matchup during week one when Hellagoods won 32-29, and this past Monday gave us another great game from these two teams.
Braves deferred the coin toss, and decided to put the ball in the hands of Mike Ford and the top scoring Hellagoods offense. This was the first mistake made by captain, and quarterback of the Braves Chris Lonzi. Hellagoods offense went down the field, and scored in just a little over three minutes of playing time. Ford capped off the drive with a touchdown to the TD league leader Dean Thompson. Dean was lined up one on one with cornerback Darryl Rocha, and made a great move to create some space for Ford to fit the ball in to Dean in the back corner of the end zone. It was obvious early on that this would be a shootout, and Braves offense needed to match Hellagoods scoring output to stay in the game. They were unable to do this, especially in the first half totaling just 6 points from a Dave Wilbern TD catch from Lonzi. Hellagoods ended up scoring on every drive they had in that first half except the drive ended early by the halftime buzzer. The Braves offense could not sustain drives, and did not receive much help from the refs either. On their second drive on fourth down, Yusef made a terrific break to the back left corner and the end zone and brought in a tremendous catch with what looked a great toe tap before he was pushed out of the end zone. However, the end zone official immediately waived incomplete claiming Yusef did not establish possession before he went out of bounds. Halftime score ended up 20-6 in favor of Hellagoods.
The Hellagoods offense kept the train rolling to start the second half. Following a Dean Thompson interception in the end zone on Braves first drive, Ford led the team down the field and found Warren for his second touchdown of the game. Braves offense scored some late touchdowns, but were unable to recover from their 6 point first half total. The final score was 32-21. Leseaon was not able to play very much, as he was hobbled with a knee injury, and Hellagoods held him to just two catches. The Hellagoods defense also received tremendous performance from every player on their defense. Kyle Roy and Warren finished the game with two sacks each while the team totaled six sacks on Lonzi. This was the highest team sack total I have seen in Flag football game here at Epic Center. Noah Huard led the team in total flag grabs with five, and every player on defense recorded at least one grab. Ford finished with a terrific line of 20-23 for 317 yards and five touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3, while Warren grabbed his first player of the game award with two sacks and two touchdown grabs. Hellagoods will have to move on from this game quickly as they have to play again on this Thursday. They face the Celtics who are the only team to beat them this year. Braves will get a big rest as they will not play again till after the Christmas Break when they take on winless Straight Flags.