Once Dallas slowed down the New York deep attack, the game swung their way.
August 14, 2018 by Tim Schoch in Analysis with 0 comments
With rosters filled with the likes of Ben Jagt, Jeff Babbitt, and Jay Froude and the throwing talents of Harper Garvey, Chris LaRocque, and Brandon “Muffin” Malecek, both the New York Empire and Dallas Roughnecks had the talent to light up the scoreboard in what ended up being the highest scoring AUDL playoff game ever, a 32-30 shootout win for the favored Dallas Roughnecks.
The game started off with perfect offense through the first eight points of the game. Jagt, a centerpiece of the New York offense all season, was all over the scoreboard early (5G, 5A), putting himself into an early double-double watch.
But the run and gun strategy was too volatile and the gameplan was too predictable for the Empire. By the end of the first quarter, the Roughnecks had adjusted and started sagging defenders off into the deep space. Deep cuts that had been into isolation now were double or triple covered.
They even went as far as to leave the team’s primary handler — Harper Garvey — completely unmarked, sticking Dalton Smith in the deep space as a free safety.
Dallas also began conceding unders to Jagt to keep him out of the endzone, where he had burned them a lot early. Turning Jagt into a thrower paid off with this second quarter turnover.
As the New York offense started to crack without their release valve downfield, Dallas’s hummed along with significantly fewer hiccups.
Even when they weren’t getting deep turns, Dallas was forcing difficult throws by taking away New York’s primary option, one that they began to rely on more and more as their roster tired while Dallas’s deep defensive rotation continued to send out waves of fresh defenders.
At 26-23, Jagt streaked deep hoping to get an easy goal, but Dallas’s defenders bailed on their matchups to keep the huck from going up. Even with the disc only 20 yards outside of the endzone, the Empire could not punch in their short field opportunity. Without the easy release, New York turned over the disc and Dallas converted, putting them up by four.
Keying in on Jagt as they do in the play above proved to be incredibly successful. It slowed down the New York offense, putting more mileage on their legs out on the hot turf, and took their most lethal weapon out of the game, limiting the Minnesota transplant to just a single goal in each of the third and fourth quarters.
Going into the third with a two point lead and receiving, Dallas only tightened their stranglehold on the game, breaking New York to take a five goal lead, 28-23. With the clock running short, a late surge that saw Beau Kittredge, Jagt, and Babbitt play nearly every point down the stretch wasn’t enough. The Empire brought it within two but could never overcome a steady and time aware Dallas offense, helped considerably by some lucky plays (like Froude’s catch below) and a pair of athletic grabs by their budding young star Connor Olson.
Dallas would advance to the final to play the Madison Radicals, but perhaps the length of this game — even accounting for their depth — was too much to bear on Sunday.