And then there were eight: Flag football heads for championship Sunday

With the flag football season winding down, eight teams will compete for the four league titles this Sunday. Here’s a recap of the Semifinal rounds.

By Jordan Holliday

The IM flag football semifinals are done, the championship match-ups are set, and soon, four teams will earn free T-shirts and, what’s more, the right to say they were “the very best flag football squad in their respective division.”

The four title games will be played this Sunday, each one crowning a champion in one of the flag football divisions. At 1 p.m., Henderson (6–1) and the winner of the Wallace House Cannons–Fallers’ Ballers game will face off from the undergraduate residence co-ed bracket. At 2 p.m., the Red Army (7–0) will take on Tufts (5–1) for the undergraduate residence men’s crown.

Then at 3 p.m., MS2 (6–0) will play Team 370203 (6–1) in the graduate/independent–coed championship. At 4 p.m., the final game of the season will pit Half Men Half Amazing (6–0–1) against MS12 (5–2) for the graduate/independent men’s title.

To get to the championship, though, each team had to advance past two other squads in the playoffs, which started Monday and ended last night.

Monday night’s first semifinal game was a Pritzker showdown, as MS12, a team drawn from the School of Medicine’s first-years, took on Smac Diablo, which drew from the Pritzker second-years. Smac had beaten MS12 in the regular season, but this time the tables were turned, and MS12 pounded on the upperclassmen with no regard for the Hippocratic Oath, winning 25–6. The play of the game was a kickoff return by MS12’s Obinna Orji, who took the ball back 60 yards for a touchdown.

“I knew we needed a big play,” Orji said. “So I just got the ball and thought I was going to get tackled, but I put a little juke move on the guy and I ran all the way in. My shoe fell off the on goal line, but I was able to stay on my feet.”

The second Monday night game, between Half Men Half Amazing and Phi Delta Theta, wasn’t any closer. Phi Delt entered the game unbeaten, but they couldn’t contain Half Men’s quarterback, fourth-year Kyle Cummings, who picked up significant yardage—and some touchdowns—from scrambling. The southpaw Cummings was also dangerous through the air, passing for a few touchdowns as Half Men cruised 31–12.

Tuesday’s contests grew tighter, as MS2’s coed squad took on the Div School Devils. The Devils’ first play from scrimmage was a 49-yard touchdown pass, but the Pritzker second-years stayed in the game, eventually playing to a 13–13 tie at the half. With his defense looking to regroup at the half, Div School second-year Dan Yingst delivered a Lombardi-like, profanity-ridden pep talk that, of course, ended with a “Let us pray” from a teammate. For all of their prayers on the sideline, though, the Devils couldn’t contain MS2’s Neil Mehta, whose spectacular leaping catch extended a drive that he capped off with another catch in the end zone, putting the Devils away for good and helping MS2 to a 27–13 win.

Tuesday’s drama continued in the next match-up, as the independent 370203 took on MS12’s coed team. While 370203 wasn’t creative enough to think of anything other than an UCID number for their team name, they did strike first as fourth-year center Jenny DeLessio-Parson rolled out for a touchdown early on. The game remained close throughout, with MS12 taking a 13–7 lead midway through the second half, but fourth-year quarterback Jared Woodrey’s scramble with six minutes remaining spelled overtime. On the fourth down of their first OT drive, 370203 looked to fourth-year Anthony Lee in the end zone, scoring the decisive touchdown. A defensive stop on MS12’s chance gave 370203 a 19–13 win, a ticket to the championship.

Action opened Wednesday night with a game between Breckenridge and the Red Army of Alper House. Breckenridge scored early on a 61-yard pass to first-year Andrew Manns but failed to convert the extra point. With no time left in the first half, the Red Army pulled even on a 45-yard passing touchdown from second-year Chika Okafor to third-year Khalid Sharif-Sidi, and they took a 7–6 halftime lead by making the point-after try. The second half was back and forth, until Okafor completed a 10-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds left in the game. Red Army followed that with a successful two-point attempt, giving the squad a 15–6 lead and the win.

In Wednesday’s final matchup, Tufts House jumped all over Linn Linn House of Sin early, putting up an impressive 26 first-half points. Tufts’ offense nearly ground to a halt in the second, though, and a late surge from Linn got them back within striking distance. The comeback by the smallest house in the housing system fell just short, though, and Tufts hung on for a 32–26 win.

Thursday’s only game was between the Woodward Ruckus and the Henderson Wombats. Woodward’s quarterback, third-year Andrew Lewis, opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass. Woodward tacked on a point-after to go up 7–0, but the star of the half was the Wombats’ defense. With time winding down and Woodward deep in the red zone, Henderson’s defense got several stops and prevented the Ruckus from going up two scores. That proved crucial: After halftime, Henderson first-year Jan Stefanski took over, throwing for one touchdown and running for another to give the Wombats a 13–7 margin that was just enough to advance.

Thursday’s other semifinal, between the Wallace House Cannons and the Fallers’ Ballers, was postponed until Sunday.