By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
Two down one to go.
After suffering a close defeat in their regular season finale, the Grand Canyon University men’s Flag Football team put on a spectacular performance last weekend in the opening rounds of the playoffs. The Lopes had their best offensive showing of the year in game one with a 21-6 win and then played immediately after in a down to the wire game two, which they won 13-12. The back-to-back wins on the day will be sending GCU to the championship round in the Scottsdale men’s flag football league.
Round One and Two
Lopes wide-out Kalani Inez erupted for a huge first half with two touchdowns to give his team a 14-0 lead. In the second half the opponent scored on the opening drive, hoping to make a game out of it, but GCU responded on their next drive making it 21-6. Neither team would score for the remainder of the contest.
In the last two games of the season GCU shot themselves in the foot on the offensive end, where they were unable to score despite moving the ball down the field. The source of the issue can easily be traced back to when Lopes head coach Tre Stevens spoke about implementing a new offense that would feature quicker plays. However on Saturday, it seemed the team was finally able to break through those struggles by capping off drives with points on the board.
“Giving our quarterback more time was extremely helpful,” said Inez. “By cutting down on how much he had to scramble led us to finishing routes rather than improvising. We also gained so much experience this season playing against opponents bigger and more athletic than us and it really showed.”
After securing the win in round one, the Lopes were allotted only 15 minutes of rest before having to play their next game. What was even more challenging, was that they were up against a team who not only beat them in the regular season, but also had fresh legs due to a first round bye.
“We had to rely on each other a lot in this game with rotations,” said Inez. “There were times were I felt like throwing up because of how tired I was and needed a break. One of our players pulled his hamstring in the first game so we were actually down a sub but it ended up all working out.”
Operating off pure emotions, GCU was able to capture a 13-0 lead going into the half. In the second half however, the fatigue Inez spoke of played an even bigger role as the Lopes desperately tried to hold on. Their opponent found new life and marched down the field twice in the final seconds of the game to make the score 13-12. It all came down to the last play of the game where the opponent elected to go for two but instead was stopped by a stout defense.
“Our defense has been a strength all year and I’m glad we were able to make a play,” said Inez. “It felt good to get a win considering what we had to overcome over a team we lost to before.
The championship game will be held at Vista Del Camino Park This Saturday November 10 at 11 am. Grand Canyon faces an opponent they have yet to see this year and the winner will be crowned champs.
“I’m confident we’ll bring home the trophy,” said Inez. “We may draw up some new things to keep things unpredictable but we’ll go in with the same game plan as before for the most part.”
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