Oklahoma State T-Town Throwdown Write-Up

Coming into the tournament seeded 4th in their pool and 15th overall out of the 24 teams, Oklahoma State Ultimato came out slow against the 2nd seed Tulane in their first game of the day, but were able to settle down with quick transition scores off of Tulane’s turnovers.

In the second game against the 1st seed, Georgia Southern, Ultimato came out firing and never looked back. Oklahoma State’s zone did not allow Georgia Southern to find a comfort zone as they were turning the disc over trying to beat Ultimato’s D and the stiff wind. OSU rolled to a 13-5 win.

The next game, against Tennessee-Chattanooga, was much of the same, a stifling zone getting turnovers and quick, easy scores for OSU. This victory wrapped up the pool for Ultimato. Bringing only 13 healthy bodies, OSU chose to give limited playing time to their key players against Mississippi State to save their legs and to keep them from getting  injured. Oklahoma State ended up losing, 13-11.

In the first game Sunday, the host team, Alabama Yellow Hammer was matched up against Harding Apocalypse. Bama got out to a fast 7-3 lead at half. However, Harding came out in the second half with tons of energy and a solid game plan. Harding dressed almost 25 guys for this tournament and all of them were active on the sidelines when they weren’t in the game. Harding quickly got back in the game and ended up trading points with Alabama, but never seemed to break through until 13-12 when they went on a 3-0 run to finish off Yellow Hammer.

In the Quarterfinals, Harding matched up with Oklahoma State. Harding jumped out to a quick three point lead, easily marching down the field against Ultimato’s flat defense. OSU was able to bring it close at 6-5 with a few quick stuff and scores. Harding responded to take it to 8-6 at half. Harding took the first point out of half to put it to 9-6 and from that point on both teams were trading points. Ultimato was never able to get a break back against Apocalypse. Falling in the quarters, 15-11.

Oklahoma State dropped down to the 5th place bracket where they had a rematch from pool play Saturday against UT-Chattanooga.

Harding went on to play Ohio State in the semis, losing a very tight one, 15-13.

The wind was a major factor through out the tournament and especially on Saturday, with steady 15 mph cross-winds and gusts up to 25 mph.

Sunday Harvest Moon Summary

Day two of Harvest Moon began with overcast skys and 10 mph winds. The rain that was predicted by meteorologists did not come, and spectators turned out to watch the action unfold. As the games played out the teams relative abilities became more and more apparent.

1. Arkansas Plays with Feeling

Matt Jackson is a good player and everyone knows it, but Arkansas will have to rely on more than just one player to succeed; that’s where the supporting cast comes in. While the team returns everyone from last year, those players are still inexperienced and run on excitement and adrenaline.  This weekend they were able to keep themselves going, but that won’t work every game. Eventually, all teams have to find a way to finish games against good teams that they have a large lead on. Arkansas might have problems letting teams back into games if they can’t figure that out.

2. Missouri Likes to Rally

Missouri is kind of in the same boat as Arkansas, but with an entirely different problem. Missouri returns a large portion of the team and having three 5th year seniors return gives the MUtants a ton of experience. However, Missouri likes to get behind before they play at their most inspired. On Saturday, Missouri spotted St. Louis two points, and on Sunday spotted Arkansas five.

“We like to [start games] slow,” said captain Matt Francis. “It is a bad habit we have and are trying to overcome.

That game-plan may have worked against St. Louis, but it came up just short against Arkansas.

3. Washington is Missing Key Players and Identity

Losing two All-Region players would hurt any team. But losing Evan Winograd and Joe MacDonald has really hurt the Contrabears. They still have the talent to win games, but the team identity and roles seem to be a little fuzzy right now.

“Things are different. We no longer have stars who can dominate match-ups, but we do have a team full of guys who can run and throw and make plays with the best of them. We just have to step up,” said Wash U captain Jacob Zax.

The Contrabears will definitely have to step up, especially since they appear to be rebuilding after such a strong showing last year. However, I expect that WashU’s coach and captains will rally the team around a common identity and make Washington a tough team by the time the regular season rolls around.

4. Harding Still Gets Tired

Last year Harding made Div. III Nationals by consistently using just eight players, but fatigue became a real problem late in tournaments. This year Harding has made a conscious effort to have an offensive line, defensive line, and several bench lines. That adjustment seemed to make a big difference as Harding strolled into the finals against Arkansas and took a 2-0 lead. The ensuing point was a long one. Harding had several chances to score but ultimately conceded and the defensive line was ineffective for the rest of the game.

Figuring out how to get to the next level might be tricky for Apocalypse, but if they can, they will likely be making noise at Div. III Nationals again.