THE “MIRACLE” 2011 NASHVILLE STORM MAKE IT “BACK TO BACK” BY WINNING THE SEMIPROBCS NATIONAL TITLE ON OCTOBER 8 IN WARRENTON, MISSOURI
STORM CAP MIRACLE PLAYOFF RUN WITH 18-13 VICTORY OVER THE GMFL CHAMPION WARREN COUNTY CYCLONES IN DEFENSIVE STRUGGLE
STORM PLAYERS AND COACHES CELEBRATE THEIR 18-13 VICTORY OVER THE WARREN COUNTY CYCLONES TO WIN THE 2011 SEMIPROBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
After the Nashville Storm unexpectedly won the Premier South Football League Championship in Prichard, AL on August 20, the Storm not only had a wait of 7 weeks to play their last game— the SemiProBCS National Championship Game (where the PSFL Champion is automatically one of the 2 contestants), they faced a 4-week wait to find out who their opponent was going to be. That’s an eternity in football.
It got even more interesting on the night of September 17, when the Warren County Cyclones won the GMFL Championship to win the right to play the Storm in the October 8 Championship Game. Interesting because the 2 teams aren’t exactly strangers—— this game would be the 4th time the 2 teams had played in 2 years. And the Storm had won the previous 3, all by close scores, which insured the Cyclones would be highly motivated to turn the tables on the purple.
The long-awaited game, on the fieldturf surface at Warrenton High School in Warrenton, Missouri, despite matching 2 teams with high-octane offenses, would be, perversely, a brutal physical struggle dominated by the defensive units of the 2 teams.
The Storm got the ball first in the game, and Phellepe Hall quickly went to work, hitting WR DeShawn Graham (NC A&T) downfield with a 39-yard strike to give the Storm first down at the Cyclone 30-yard line. The Storm’s next 3 plays, however, netted just 6 yards before Storm K-P Garrett Morgan (Central Arkansas) trotted out onto the field and split the uprights with a 42-yard Field Goal to give the Storm a 3-0 lead.
Then, on the first Cyclone possession, the Cyclones opened with the mobile former St Louis Bulldog QB Deon Morris and drove to the Storm 32 yard line by gaining 30 yards on 5 straight running plays, but the Storm forced a Cyclone punt into the end zone after Storm DT Danny Roberson (TSU) and LB Fred Sparkman (North Carolina) nailed Morris in the backfield for a loss, followed by regular Cyclone starting QB Mike McMullen coming in the game and throwing an incomplete 3rd down pass.
Ths Storm’s next possession, though, would last just 2 plays, as Cyclone LB Daryle Jones (McKendree College) intercepted a Phellepe Hall pass and rturned it 19 yards to the Storm 10-yard line. The Storm then “dodged the bullet” when Storm LB Quentin Hodge (Cumberland University) recovered Deon Morris’ fumble on the Cyclones’ 2nd offensive play.
The Storm drove from the shadow of their end zone to the Storm 44 before punting back to the Cyclones, and the two teams swapped possessions generating little offense. But a short Storm punt gave the Cyclones the ball at the Storm 31 yard line, and this time, the Cyclones cashed in on a 6-yard TD pass from Mike McMullen to Matt Askew (University of Idaho) with 9:45 left in the 2nd Quarter after a 21-yard Pass Interference penalty on the Storm put the Cyclones close to the Storm goal. Will Rodriguez’ extra point gave the cyclones a 7-3 lead.
The Storm’s next possession was a 58-yard drive in 13 plays that ended at the Cyclone 3 when the Cyclone defense held Julius Johnson out of the end zone on 4th down (making the Cyclone D the only defense to stop the 6’4”, 270 lb Johnson from scoring inside the 5 this year). When the Cyclones got the ball back, though, Johnson (now back at Defensive End) cut the Cyclone lead to 7-5 by nailing Deon Morris in the end zone for a Safety with 1:44 left before halftime. Then , after the free kick to the Storm, Phellepe Hall hit Mario Merriwether (Bethel College) for back-to-back gains of 14 and 25 yards to enable Garrett Morgan to attempt a 48 yard FG right before halftime. The Cyclones, however, blocked the attempt, leaving a 7-5 Cyclone lead at halftime.
In the first half, a Storm pass interference penalty had done a lot to help the Cyclones score a Touchdown—– on the Storm’s first possession of the 2nd half, the Cyclones returned the favor. The Storm drove 44 yards (aided by 3 Cyclone penalties for 25 yard) on 11 plays to score on a 1-yard Julius Johnson run with 6:11 left in the 3rd Quarter. The Storm’s first TD gave the Storm an 11-7 lead after the Cyclones blocked the Storm extra point.
The Cyclones came roaring back on their next possession, though, as “running QB” Deon Morris went to the air for a 59-yard completion to WR Alex Thomas (Indiana State), then ran for 10 more to the Storm 11. Fred Sparkman’s sack of Morris stopped the Cyclones from getting any further, but Cyclone K Will Rodriguez narrowed the Storm lead to 11-10 with a 33-yard FG with 2:46 left in the 3rd Quarter.
The Storm went 3-and-out on their next possession, and then the Cyclones’ Marqueas McLaurin (University of Iowa) returned Garrett Morgan’s punt 36 yards to put the Cyclones in business at the Storm 19. Cyclone RB Dominique Jones ripped off a 14-yard run to reach the Storm 5, but the Storm defense then stiffened. Danny Roberson nailed Cyclone RB Keenan Miller for a 4-yard loss, and then Storm S Tremayne Townsend (Austin Peay) recovered a fumble from Deon Morris on the Storm 3 to end the threat.
The Storm went 3-and-out on 3 stright incomplete passes from Phellepe Hall, but Garrett Morgan’s 57-yard punt gave the Cyclones the ball on the Cyclone 42.
On the Cyclones’ first offensive snap, Storm DT Matt Breymeyer slammed into Cyclone QB Mike McMullen, causing a fumble that Breymeyer recovered. Then Phellepe Hall got untracked, hitting Pistol Ramsey for 12 yards, DeShawn Graham for 23 yards, and then raised the Storm lead to 18-10 with a 20-yard TD pass to DeQuinn Watford (St Ambrose University) with 12:26 left in the game.
The Cyclones followed tis score, however, with their best drive of the game (11 plays, 57 yards). The drive stalled at the Storm 23, but Will Rodriguez hit a 41 yard FG to cut the Storm lead to 18-13 with 6:14 to go.
The Storm put together another near-scoring drive as Chris fletcher (Austin Peay) ripped off a 47-yard run and Phellepe Hall hit Dequinn Watford for 24 yards to the Cyclone 1. The Storm, though, lost 12 yards on a 5 yard penalty and a sack of Phellepe Hall, and then, on 4th down, the Cyclones blocked their 3rd kick of the game on garrett Morgan’s Field Goal attempt, and the Cyclones’ Matt Askew returned the blocked kick to the Storm 44.
From then, though, it was 4-and-out for the Cyclones after a 1st down sack of deon Morris by Lonnie Harris (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) and Stanlee Bradley (Cumberland U). The Storm took over the ball with less than a minute left and ended the game with 3 kneeldowns by Phellepe Hall—— and the SemiProBCS National Title.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
The Storm outgained the Cyclones on the night 358-179, with the Storm gaining 129 rushing yards and 229 passing yards. The Cyclones had 3 turnovers (all lost fumbles) to the Storm’s 1 (an INT), but the Cyclones blocked 3 Storm kicks, 2 Field Goal attempts and an extra point attempt.
It was a big night for goal line stands for both teams, as both teams had 2 red zone possessions where they went scoreless. The Cyclones’ two red zone stands against the Storm offense ended with a blocked FG attempt and a stop on 4th down, while both Storm stands against the Cyclone offense ended with the Storm forcing Cyclone fumbles.
Mario Merriwether led the Storm receivers with 6 catches for 64 yards, all in the first half. Jeremie “Bird” Whittaker sustained an injury and was unable to play after catching 2 passes for 19 yards in the 1st Quarter. The Storm adjusted to the injury by making a 2-way player out of CB DeQuinn Watford, who came up large with 4 catches for 51 yards, including a catch for what turned out to be the winning TD. Chris Fletcher led the Storm runners with 77 yards on 8 carries.
Despite the 3 blocked kicks, Garrett Morgan’s 42-yard 1st Quarter FG and 57-yard punt that turned around field position leading to the Storm’s winning TD were huge plays in the game.
The Warren County Cyclones will be playing the Nashville Storm IN NASHVILLE during the 2012 season.