Texas A&M Defends ‘Big D’ Title With Dominant Win Over Kansas State

The logo of Dozen Ultimate, Texas A&M's Ultimate Frisbee team.DENTON — After a handy defeat of the University of North Texas in the semifinals, Texas A&M met Kansas State in the finals of this year’s Big D in Little D tournament in Denton, Texas. With the wind riding at a steady 25 miles per hour, the sidelines knew there would be big plays and big opportunities.

But the result was one-sided, as Texas A&M cruised to a 15-6 victory, defending their 2012 ‘Big D’ title and starting the season off with a strong performance against lesser teams.

A&M, led by captain Matt Bennett, started the game with a commanding upwind break to set a very deliberate tone for the game. Despite two opportunities to put the disc in on the goal line, and after a huge disc ripped out of the sky by K-State’s Andrew Helseth, State forced throws through sprinting Aggies, resulting in two end zone turns before Bennett picked up and capitalized, rifling a big flick to David Na in the end zone for the 1-0 lead.

Pulling down wind, A&M set the same 3-3-1 zone that crippled up field progress for UNT. After an athletic D on a dump pass, A&M shot the disc out the back of the end zone. A volley of back and forth turnovers from both teams eventually led to a big break mark back hand by Bennett for another A&M score.

Again fighting the staggering A&M zone, K State made multiple attempts to fire creative throws over the middle that might have better success than their initial conservative efforts at moving the cup. A turn on a looping flick down the sideline gave A&M the opportunity to drive it in once more, but a throwing error on the goal line put the disc back in K State handler possession. A quick cross field hammer that soared out of bounds was returned by an A&M huck for score. Facing an early 4-0 hole, Kansas State burned a timeout.

The A&M momentum K State had hoped to stop with the timeout continued, however. The Aggies rattled off two more points coming out of the K-State time out including a cheeky — and increasingly iconic — cross field scoober from Bennett.

With the formidable lead A&M had secured, Bennett and other starters started to rest, opening up the A&M rotation. A short pull started K-State going down wind at the half field mark. Showing their most intelligent cuts so far, K State walked down the field and finally put the disc in the end zone, only to have it called back on a travel. Working the disc back to the force side, K State found a streaking Matt Hudspith for their first point of the game.

With winds now gusting above 30 miles per hour, K State had a quick turn on a miscommunication. A lofty up wind flick by A&M led to a twelve man collision, but K State’s Jordan Spratt coming out high above the fray. The inevitable foul was called, but observers upheld the disc’s position on the field, maintaing K State possession. Working it all the way down field, K State fell victim to another mistake with an endzone turn. But an opportunistic D by Hudspith would lead him to get the bookends score to keep K State within five at 7-2.

Coming out of half time, A&M had their most challenging downwind point of the game. After a turnover, K State put up a big huck to Spratt upwind that was cut short by a high flying Bennett. An exchange of multiple turns led to an imperfect shot into the end zone ending with a huge lay out score by A&M’s Ben Lewis to make it 9-2.

JD Newman, showing that Matt Bennett isn’t the only Aggie who can pull up wind, put A&M in an actionable position to get yet another upwind break off the pull. Newman took it upon himself to make a launching layout D through his man on a barreling in-cut. This play set up Newman and Dan Ehrig to put on a two man show with Newman finding Ehrig in the end zone on a quick dishing strike.

On a forceful pull the A&M cup sprinted down field to do their job. After a few swings and no opportunity up top with Dalton Smith’s deep coverage, K State swung the disc wide but A&M’s Ian Smith had other plans, sprinting and making an off handed lunging catch for the Aggies’ sixth — yes, sixth — Callahan of the weekend.

At this point, the game was already over, but the teams started trading points in the form of one throw scores for four consecutive points. K State started the one punch show with an easy flick huck to Hudspith who made a diving catch. With a second out-of-bounds pull from K State, Dalton Smith looked off three solid in-cuts with his eyes locked on Robert Lewis in the end zone for another scoring connection. K State returned with a few quick handler cuts before a power position huck found Danny Kurz getting high over the head of his defender for a huge skying score. A&M needed just one point to win, as Smith repeated his previous point looking off open throws to find Bennett, who made a ridiculously high catch over Kyle Welch to secure the A&M win, 15-6.

With the tournament win, Texas A&M handled their business, as they prepare for a possible breakout year. At South Central regionals last year, two tough losses to rival Texas (first in semifinals, then in the game-to-go) kept them out of Boulder. But earlier this fall, they notched big upsets over Pittsburgh, the defending National Champions; Luther; and Michagan State. Each went to the College Championships in 2012.

Stay tuned for a tournament recap of Big D in Little D 2013.

  1. Peter Doyle
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    Peter Doyle is an Ultiworld contributor. He wrote his Masters thesis about self-officiation in ultimate. He lives in Texas.

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