Hail Mary answered in Hellagoods narrow victory over the Braves

Braves defense following the winning touchdown by Hellagoods. Picture by Sean Goodwin.

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – At the beginning of this past Mondays flag football action, I did not expect to be writing about another Hellagoods game. However, their game against the Braves ended in such a fashion I could not help but dive into this games stats and tell the story as I saw it.  The game was the first matchup between the two teams who have played each other a lot here at Epic sports center over the past couple months.  Monday’s game was the first Hellagoods game I can remember where their quarterback Mike Ford could not make it on the field due to injury.  Hellagoods brought in a former college quarterback Sam Castronova in to take his place.  Braves QB Chris Lonzi was looking to defeat Hellagoods for the first time in his four past tries.

Hellagoods offense did not look like it was missing Ford early on, as Castronova led the team down for a 28 yard score in just four plays. Sam was able to hit Derek Mcgee twice before capping off the drive with a strike to Alex Seifert for a 6-0 lead.  After a quick three and out from the Braves, Castronova would give them their first points from a dropped snap in the end zone.  This bonus score seemed to jump start the Braves offense as well as the plays came out very fluidly on their next drive.  Lonzi was able to find time in the pocket for a big completion the Mohammed Saleh down the middle of the field.  Damon Powell then finished off the drive with a great goal line out route to catch the TD from Lonzi.  The Braves offense was clicking, and Lonzi was a big reason why.  Hellagoods tough pass rush was not getting to him in time, and the Braves receivers were running terrific route combos to get open. John Helbringer and Ryan Stevens caught their first touchdonws of the season, and the Braves went into the halftime break leading by a score of 20-12

The Hellagoods offense deserved more points then it had in the first half. Sam Castronova was showing off his true talent with the ball in his hand.  The dropped snaps are what costed him early as he still did not have a fluid connection with center Adam Huard.  Sam was able to start the second half well as he led his new squad down for a quick score to Alex Seifert to cut the lead to 20-18.  The Braves offense looked strong out of the break as well scoring on their first drive.  Lonzi was having a terrific day throwing the ball to John Helbringer.  He seemed to complete every pass he threw Johns way including a big 40 yard precision pass in the back corner of the end zone.  On the extra point of that touchdown, Lonzi made a key mistake throwing a ball up for grabs which was brought down for a interception and one point for Hellagoods.  This made the score a manageable 26-19, but with such few time left a comeback seemed unlikely from Hellagoods.  It then ended up being fourth down and goal from fifty yards out for Sam Castronova and company.  In Aaron Rodgers like fashion, Castronova heaved a deep ball after scrambling around for time and after a couple tips Eric Flynn brought down the pass for a touchdown.  Now down one point with only a minute to play, Ford yelled “go for two” from the sideline, and it was clear Hellagoods was going for the win.  Sam C. drew up a great play, and Robert Malave hauled in the winning two point conversion.  Hellagoods had came back and won 27-26.  The player of the game was easily the new guy at QB for Hellagoods, Sam Castronova.  He finished the game 24-32 373 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first game playing at the Epic Center.   There were three stand outs at receivers, Alex Seifert (5-149 3 TDs) Eric Flynn (5-106 1 GWTD) and Derek Mcgee who had a game high seven catches in some very clutch moments.  It only gets tougher for both of these teams.  Hellagoods has to play Mega Chargers (2-0) next week who look like the early favorite for the League title.  Braves will look to rebound from this tough loss against Dynamite (2-0) who are also having a terrific season so far after two games.


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