Lycans take down Predators with late FG
The Los Angeles Lycans travelled to Charleston to take on the Predators in a rematch of last season's Wildcard game to open the SFL's 18th season. The Lycans looked to avenge last season's 29-10 loss; and, they showed they were ready by marching 75 yards on their opening possession.
Despite having an uncharacteristic -5 rushing yards, QB Sully Richardson was able to connect on 6-0f-7 pass attempts for 80 yards. Rookie WR Terrance Weary capped off the season-opening drive with a 17-yd TD reception from Richardson. K Rob Emms converted the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
Looking to apply more pressure, the Lycans Special Teams unit stepped up and forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Richardson remained hot, connecting attempts (one of them being an Elzie Pryor reception at the goal line). HB Robert "Bowling Ball" Johnson pounded the rock in the endzone to extend the Lycans lead 14-0 after Emms' PAT.
Charleston responded on their first official drive of the game. A huge third down conversion from QB TD Drew to generic WR Raven Sebolka (58 yards) set up HB Keith Swearingen's rushing touchdown from two yards out. The score at the time was 14-7 after a Predators PAT.
The next Los Angeles possession ended in an all too familiar fashion for fans of LA. After completing two passes to open the drive, Sully Richardson found Charleston's FS Josh Riese undercutting the passing lane and returning the INT back to LA's 33-yard line. Three plays later, Swearingen added another rushing touchdown from three yards out. The score was 14-14 with 1:42 left in the first quarter.
Leading into the second quarter, the Lycans drove the ball into Predators territory until LB Erich Hammer's interception. However, the Pack's defense howled at the moon and forced a 3-and-out. The rest of the half was very uneventful, with Los Angeles punting after an 11-play drive and Charleston being unable to get anything going. Both teams headed to the locker room to regroup and discuss second half adjustments.
The second half began with a Charleston punt and another Sully Richardson interception (his third of the day). The Lycans defense responded in a huge way. CB Mike Scott deflected a pass in the air and FS Rachelle Colston brought it down and returned it to Charleston's 28-yard line. Five plays later WR Chris Lee (with his second diving catch of the drive) hauled in a 6-yard TD pass from Richardson. A successful PAT from K Emms pushed the Lycans to a 21-14 score with 6:09 left in the third quarter.
The Los Angeles defense stayed hot by forcing a three-and-out on the next following Predators possession. On LA's ensuing drive, Richardson found Lee again for fourteen yards and went over the top on the following play to WR Davius Reid for a leaping catch. He ran it in for a 62-yards and a TD. Charleston was called for a late hit on Reid; however, he was able to shake it off with no apparent side effects from the blow. The Lycans were in control of the game at this point with a 28-14 lead following Emms' PAT with 4:02 remaining in the third.
Charleston answered back with an 11-play 76-yard drive to end the third quarter and the first play of the fourth. The Predators decided to go back to their ground game. Former Fort Worth Toro Gary Marx and rookie ILB Tazzy Blackwell combined for a tackle-for-loss. Keith Swearingen rumbled for 40 yards on 8 carries to get the ball to the Lycans 8-yard line. From there, TD Drew hit WR Jay Taylor in the endzone, making their deficit down to a touchdown (28-21 after the PAT) in the fourth quarter.
The Lycans faltered on their next possession with a three-and-out. SS Ryan Yoseph came up big for the Lycans defense, picking off a TD Drew pass (his first of the season). Unfortunately Richardson would throw his fourth pick of the game to Charleston OLB Jack Hoffman, who returned the ball to LA's 14-yard line. Drew would capitalize on the turnover by tossing a touchdown pass to TE Lyriic DaVinci from eight yards out. With Brechett tacking on the PAT, the score was knotted up at 28 with 7:15 left in the game.
Los Angeles would march the ball 66 yards down the field, with Richardson hitting Weary and Reid twice on the drive. However, Richardson tried to force a pass to a triple-covered Lee in the endzone. Predators SS John Stamango would have none of it giving Richardson his fifth interception in the contest.
The Predators would get the ball to the LAL 40-yard line before having to punt it away. CB Jack Hacksaw had two huge pass defenses on the drive, while Tazzy Blackwell, OLB Kevin Brackett, Colston and Yoseph all made plays. After a 28-yard punt, the Lycans would drive the field beginning at their own 12-yard line. Richardson found Lee for 52-yards on the first play, Johnson would run for a yard, Pryor would pull in a 4-yard rece
ption, then an incomplete pass would set up Rob Emms for a chance to win the game. Cool as a cucumber, Emms would connect from 47 yards out to give the Lycans a 31-28 lead with 31 seconds remaining.
Charleston, with all their timeouts remaining, took over at their own 23-yard line. After a completion of twelve yards, Kevin Brackett laid the wood forcing an incomplete pass over the middle. Another completion to midfield would give the Predators hope; but, it was short lived as DE Brogan Speraw pressured the QB into a hurried pass resulting in an incompletion. Drew was able to complete a pass for twelve yards to WR Buchanan Simons down to the LAL 38. Charleston would choose to go for a long, 55-yard field goal attempt to tie the game; but, Brechett’s kick would come up short giving the Lycans a 31-28 win in the season opener.
Despite five picks on the day, Sully Richardson was 31/40 for 412 yards and 3 TD’s. Robert Johnson had a tough time finding any running room, gaining just 39 yards on 19 carries along with 2 receptions for 1 yard. Tommy Ramen carried the rock 4 times for 8 yards and caught 3 passes for 6 yards. Chris Lee had an incredible day with 9 receptions for 189 yards and a touchdown. Davius Reid went for 5 and 112. Rookie Terrance Weary caught all 4 passes thrown his way for 52 yards and a TD. Elzie Pryor and Jack Flash each chipped in 26 yards on 4 receptions.
Defensively, Ryan Yoseph led the way with 9 total tackles, a PD, and an INT. CBs Jack Hacksaw and Mike Scott each contributed with 8 tackles, with Hacksaw credited with 2 PDs. Kevin Brackett and Rachelle Colston each totaled 7 tackles, while Colston came away with her first pick of the season. Rookie Tazzy Blackwell had 6 tackles in her debut, including a TFL. Buddy Blaze had 4 tackles from his OLB position, while CB Ryan Proster had 3. ILB Danny Stinson and DT Gary Marx were in on 2 tackles, with both of Marx’s being for a loss. DE’s Brogan Speraw and Ace Blackwell provided pressure all game on the Predator’s passing attack. Rob Emms connected on all 4 of his PAT’s, and then knocked home the game-winning field goal.
The Lycans move to 1-0 for the season. The Lycans will travel to Vancouver (January 22nd), as they will face the 1-0 Legion in their opening Pacific Division matchup.