Football – the American version – is played all over the world and throughout the year. Let’s take a look at this week’s football news…
AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE
The owner of the Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders announced the team will not be returning to the AAL for the 2020 season, but discussions with other leagues have not yet taken place. The AAL had some unstable teams during the 2019 season resulting in most teams playing non-league competition to fill out their schedules and some AAL teams suspended operations prior to or during the season. The Roughriders played as the Richmond (VA) Roughriders in the 2018 AAL season before relocating to Wheeling for the 2019 AAL season. The AAL’s Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC) are rumored to be leaving the league for the 2020 season. A previously announced 2020 AAL expansion team called the Tampa Bay Tornadoes announced a September tryout, but some doubt has been reported as to whether the team will make it to its first season.
ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE
PHILADELPHIA SOUL 48, WASHINGTON VALOR 41
Game #2 – AFL Semifinals
(Philadelphia wins series 117-74)
The small scuffle in the third quarter of Sunday’s semifinal series finale between the Philadelphia Soul and the Washington Valor was a metaphor for the game, but not the series.
Both teams fought back and forth until the last minute-and-a-half, when Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh connected with wide receiver Darius Prince to take the lead with a 33-yard touchdown to win, 48-41.
The Soul didn’t want the game to be as close as it ended but coach Clint Dolezel said with the playoff format with aggregate scoring, it makes it a lot less stressful for both players and coaches.
“It’s the beauty of the home and away thing,” Dolezel said. “I would always want to play at home second. So, that if you do clinch it, it’s in front of your crowd.”
The win, combined with last week’s 69-33 victory, means the Soul advance to ArenaBowl XXXII with an aggregate win over the Valor, 117-74.
Before to Sunday’s game, Raudabaugh said the way the Soul would walk out of Wells Fargo Center as winners would be by scoring on every drive – and they did just that, at least in the first half.
ALBANY EMPIRE 62, BALTIMORE BRIGADE 21
Game #2 – AFL Semifinals
(Albany wins series 123-47)
The Arena Football League’s top point-producers were kept off the field Saturday night for more than eight minutes of the second quarter. It happened because Albany’s defense scored three straight touchdowns in a playoff game against the Baltimore Brigade.
It was part of a 62-21 humiliation that the Empire put on the Brigade at Royal Farms Arena to win their two-game, aggregate score semifinal playoff series, 123-47.
The Empire will now play host to ArenaBowl XXXII at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at Times Union Center. The game, against the winner of the other semifinal series between Philadelphia and Washington, will be televised live by ESPN2.
“It’s an awesome feeling to get there for the first time,” said Terence Moore, a seventh-year linebacker who scored twice. “The good thing about the locker room is that we’re excited about being there, but we still feel we have one more to complete the job.”
Albany (12-2), coming off its second straight regular-season title, made this a no contest early. Having won last week’s meeting with Baltimore 61-26, the Empire needed only to stay within 34 points of the Brigade to play for the Arena title.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have had a revolving door at kick returner this season. Janarion Grant put an end to that on Thursday night. The former Rutgers star returned two punts for touchdown in his Canadian Football League debut, sparking the Bombers to a 26-24 win over the Calgary Stampeders at IG Field in Winnipeg.
The ownership group trying to bring a CFL expansion team called the Atlantic Schooners to Halifax (Nova Scotia) is still working on a business plan for a new stadium that will be a requirement for acceptance into the league. The earliest an expansion team could start play would be in 2021 and that season could be played in Moncton (Nova Scotia) or a temporary stadium in Halifax. The CFL is holding a regular-season game later this month at the University of Moncton as part of the 2019 edition of Touchdown Atlantic. The CFL has yet to close on a recently announced proposed sale of the Montreal Alouettes team whose ownership sold the team back to the league just prior to the 2019 season.
The Kuopio Steelers (7-2) and Seinäjoki Crocodiles (3-5) staged a game for the ages in Finland’s Maple League. The Steelers scored 37 third quarter points to beat Seinäjoki 85-55 in one of the highest scoring games in Maple League history.
Kuopio scored 64 points in the second half alone.
Trailing 35-21 at the half, the Steelers exploded for 37 points in the third quarter, holding Seinäjoki to just six and then added another 27 in the fourth.
The Oklahoma Thunder (9-1) are one win away from capturing their fourth consecutive National Championship and their eighth overall title in the franchise’s 12 seasons of operation. The only obstacle standing in Oklahoma’s path to another Gridiron Bowl title is a rematch with the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs (10-0).
The Thunder and Bulldawgs have met in the regular season earlier this year. Middle Tennessee defeated Oklahoma 26-13 on June 29th, in Nashville,Tennessee getting a little payback from last seasons championship loss but there is a big difference in winning a championship game, versus winning a regular season game.
Flashback to 2018, the Thunder defeated the Bulldawgs 38-15 on August 11th in Gridiron Bowl IX in Birmingham, Alabama to give them their third consecutive national championship banner. They will face off again for the third time in their short history, in what is quickly becoming an intense rivalry.
This Gridiron Bowl will feature two of the most storied programs on the Minor League Football circuit today. The Bulldawgs have made five appearance in championship games the last five seasons since they have been established dating back to when they were still a part of the Tennessee Football League (TFL).
For the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs, Gridiron Bowl X will mark their second straight Gridiron Bowl appearance. They are also seeking their first GDFL league championship since winning consecutive spring titles in the MTFL ,MFA & TFL .
Middle Tennessee punched their ticket to the 2019 Gridiron Bowl with a 32-27 victory over the Erie Express in the Intense Xtreme Conference Championship in Erie, Pennsylvania on last Saturday July 27.2019.
Chapa had three first half turnovers and another interception that bounced off the chest of Moore. After Erie took the lead with under two minutes to go, Chapa hit Moore on a 53 yard play to give the Bulldawgs the lead for good.
Thunder starting QB Damian Manning led the offense by completing 10-of-14 passes for 140 yards and two scores. Adidas McDonald also added a game-high 148 yards on the ground while also rushing for three touchdowns. WR Brandon Shepherd led receivers with 5 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown in the win.
Meanwhile, the Bulldawgs traveled to Cathedral Prep Events Center and defeated the Erie Express 32-27 in the Xtreme Conference Championship to earn their spot in the Gridiron Bowl. Bulldawgs trailed by three points at one point, after Hanna hit Terry Jackson on a 28 yard TD pass with Jeremy Ditzler adding the XP to give Erie the lead 27-24. 2:57 4th, but rallied.Bulldawg QB Eric Chapa and WR Tyran Moore showed some great moxie.
Defensively, the Thunder held River City to -8 yards in total offense, though this total was primarily due to key mistakes by the Pythons that resulted in -52 yards rushing. The Thunder also forced 5 turnovers, including one pick-six by CB Traivon Bryant, a sack/fumble forced by DE Rashawd Rushing, and a fumble recovery by WR DJ Dempsey deep in Python territory that led to a subsequent Thunder touchdown. .
As for the Bulldawgs defense, DB Chris Perkins led Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs in the turnover department with three interceptions a fumble recovery, four pass breakup and a touchdown in the victory over the Outlaws and Express. The Bulldawgs defense has been ranked #1 all season long and this is the most points they have given up to an opponent all season.
The 2019 National Championship (Gridiron Bowl X) between the Oklahoma Thunder and the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs is slated for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff at Missouri Southern State University, in Joplin,Missouri Admissions $15.00
IFAF 2019 U19 European Championships
Although they started slow, Team Austria built momentum quickly and finally dominated Sweden in the gold medal final of the IFAF 2019 U19 European Championhips, shutting them out 28-0 Sunday evening in Bologna, Italy.
In front of a loud and boisterous crowd at Arcoveggio Stadium with Austrian and Swedish fans chanting back and forth, Austria simply outran, outmuscled and outhustled a Swedish team that had not faced this kind of speed and execution before in the tournament.
Austria jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and then cruised in the second half for the win.
The main event in the Irish American Football Association’s calendar is finally back once again as the four time champions Belfast Trojans take on the South Dublin Panthers for the Shamrock Bowl in its 33rd year. These two teams are well known to each, having faced each other multiple times in recent years. They last played each other on the 9th June 2019 in Belfast, where the Trojans came out 26-16 winners. This would be the first of a string of three defeats for the Panthers to end their regular season whilst the Trojans would win out their remaining four games.
The Trojans finished the regular season as second seeds, gaining home field advantage in the semi-final, of which they overcame UCD 14-0 in a rain soaked game at Harlequins RFC. Both defense’s took advantage of the weather, stifling each other’s offenses as both were finding it difficult to establish an air game in the tough conditions. The Trojans eventually broke the deadlock at the end of the second quarter, ironically through a passing play, before going on to score the games only other touchdown in the second half.
The Columbus Lions couldn’t overcome their demons, falling to their rival Jacksonville in the semifinal game 67-43. With the loss, the Lions’ hope of reaching a third consecutive NAL Championship comes to a halt.
Columbus would strike first after causing a fumble on the opening kickoff and quarterback Bryan Hicks sneaking in for a touchdown. But after the Sharks and Mike Fafaul answered back with a touchdown pass to Durron Neal, Hicks would throw a pick six deep in Jacksonville territory, returned by Markus Smith to put the Sharks up 16-6. Although Ulric Jones would pouce on a fumble for a touchdown and Hicks found his way into the endzone late in the 2nd quarter, Jacksonville would enter the half with a 37-22 lead.
In what was a battle of the #2 and #3 offenses, this was a total defensive struggle as the two teams combined for just 56 points, there were five total turnovers, eight combined sacks, and multiple times where teams were stopped on downs. The great news is that the Carolina Cobras (10-5) prevailed,
beating Massachusetts Pirates (8-7) by a score of 30-26 and will advance to face the winner of the Columbus Lions vs Jacksonville Shark game (Tuesday), for the NAL Championship on August 17, 2019, the location has yet to be determined.
This was a sloppy game on the offensive side of the ball for both teams as the defenses dominated. The Cobras got the ball and drove down the field, only to be turned over on downs as QB Charles McCullum was sacked on fourth down. The Pirates were not able to answer as they too turned it over on downs. On the next Cobras drive Jordan Jolly fumbled and turned it back over to the Pirates. This time the Pirates capitalized, with a 20-yard pass from QB Sean Brackett to Rannell Hall for the score. With the PAT it was 7-0 Pirates and that is how we ended the first quarter.