General Manager Notes: back to back!
Wins that is.
The Bordeaux Vineyards have struggled for years now, coping with three franchises that are quite regularly playing winning football and as a result struggle to get ahead of their rivals. Today we were visiting them and posted in what turned out to be a mood swing of games, the kind you shouldn't watch with a weak heart.
Our first drive was inspired with a 25-yard run from Francisco Patter (welcome back?), but on 4th and 7 we went for it on their 33-yard line and there called a play that 9 out of 10 times won't move the chains in that situation (did we really leave that in our game plan?). Bordeaux punished us with a drive for a 52-yard field goal. Our next drive ended up in Moe Sheldon running for 14 yards and a touchdown, again being anchored by a long run from Patter. Bordeaux responded with a solid drive, but had to settle for a 24-yard field goal and trailing 7-6 to us by the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started with us getting into Bordeaux turf and pinning them at their own 1-yard line after the punt. Initially our defensive domination was brushed away by a roughing the kicker penalty on the punt attempt, but in their second attempt a sack and a pick six by Kirk Hitchcock gave us the 14-6 lead. We gave up two long third down conversions on the Vineyards' next drive, but eventually they missed a 54-yard field goal attempt. Bordeaux' passing game (or our lack of pass defense?) gave them one more chance before half time, but they missed a 53-yard field goal in the final seconds, giving us the 14-6 lead at half time.
They started the second half with a strong drive, seeing promising Walt Czech complete passes for 38 and 31 yards to Russell Mitchell and on the next play a short throw into the end zone for a 14-13 score. Momentum had clearly shifted as they picked off Moe Sheldon two plays later for a 27-yard touchdown and a 20-14 lead. Santiago Messenger replied with a neat kickoff return for 32 yards, Reggie Thongchanh added a 17-yard run and Moe Sheldon connected with Theo Bondy for 15 yards, noticing defense are these days double covering George Stuckey. Sheldon himself ran the ball in from 12 yards out on a third down, making it 21-20 Maassluis. We followed up by stopping them at our 38-yard line, bun on the ensuing possession we saw Reggie Thongchanh (why was Patter not on the field, coach?) not convert on third and 1 and fourth and 1. It didn't backfire though, Clayton Jackson picked off Walt Czech's long pass two plays later and brought the ball back to where our drive had ended.
With a short field, Moe Sheldon got a chance to make tosses to his tight ends Clarence Gore and Clay Gaynor, then handing off to Reggie Thongchanh on third and 1 (again no Patter!?) who somehow got all the room to not just get the chains moved but actually going the full 10 yards for a 28-20 lead. It was trimmed down to 28-26 on the kickoff as Bordeaux scored a 9-3yard touchdown, but their two-point attempt failed. The next drive took out Theodore Bondy with a calf injury after he converted on third and long with a 18-yard catch. We failed to take more time off the clock and 10 minutes remained, which can feel like hours in a closely contested game of football. Our run defense stuffed them and as field position tilted heavily into our favor, Clarence Gore proved his value with two useful third down catches to set up a 35-yard field goal for the 31-26 lead. We then stopped Bordeaux with about 3 minutes to go, but in return we took just 1 minute off the clock and 1 of their time outs. On third and second Walt Czech connected with his fullback on a 29-yard pass. Then, with about a minute to go, an illegal block penalty pushed them back to midfield into second and 25. After a Jumbo Mojica sack it became third and 28, but on third and so much to gain, they went for a short pass that was dropped and on fourth down Devon Farrell knocked the ball away from Derrick Velazquez to keep him from making the deep catch. Two knee drops later, the 31-26 score was final.
1. Gothenburg 6-2
2. Maassluis 5-2-1
3. Paris 5-3
4. Bordeaux 1-7
Yeah, that tied game is turning into a true tie-breaker, or tie-avoider if you will. I'm still far from convinced we're still playing to the levers we reached last season. Losing Theodore Bondy for 3 games (presumably) will be a big deal, as we had just reached the point where George Stuckey was becoming our WR1 (by the measures of most scouts), making Bondy a more dangerous threat as a WR2. But it is what it is, injuries are part of football.
Next up are the tough challenges in Orlando (5-3) and then the even more crucial one in Gothenburg (6-2). Both will have implications on our playoffs chances and more so on the seeding order if we manage to stay in the mix with these two teams and Paris (5-3). Houston (5-4) or their division leading San Antonio (6-2) are also in the mix for the wild cards and the second and third seeds. Tucker (8-0) is quickly building an unsurmountable lead, while Toronto (5-4) looks destined to win the Northeast division and the #4 seed.
But enough about the playoffs, as I said there, we'll have to win in Orlando if we're really serious about being the second best team in the AOC. We beat them 27-20 in our house last season in the playoffs, they'll be very motivated to avenge that, as far as that's possible in a following season with a lot, but no season end on the line.
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail