You Can't Cheat Death
It is arguable that a cat’s nine lives could symbolize the London Monarchs’ valiant performance against the San Antonio Marshalls.
In the 4th quarter alone, the Monarchs battled against a 10-point deficit by intercepting Ryan Brinker 2 times, stopping the Marshalls’ offense at the 1-yard line, and scoring a 23-yard touchdown. This was not enough for them to complete the comeback.
If Vinson had enough speed to push ahead for an extra yard after making the crucial interception with 3 minutes to go in the game, the outcome would have been entirely different. The same story can be said if the Monarchs’ offense could have scored a touchdown with 1st & Goal from the 1-yard line.
The Monarchs failing to exploit the vast opportunities they received because of the Marshalls’ mistakes would lead to a remarkable 20-14 victory for San Antonio’s 11th win of the season.
The Monarchs began the game with a solid march inside positive territory, but their drive was cut short at the 32-yard line when Daniel Shivers III intercepted Chase Mason. San Antonio converted their first set of downs with a 24-yard completion on 3rd & 10. Shortly after, Ryan Brinker threw for a 31-yard touchdown, scoring the first points of the game.
London turned to superstar Curtis Bailey on the first three plays of the possession. It was effective enough to get the Monarchs to midfield, but after Mason was sacked for a 12-yard loss on 3rd & 10 by James Blackmon, they were forced to punt.
A three-and-out by the Marshalls gave the ball back to the Monarchs at their 42-yard line. Facing 3rd & 8, Mason threw a deep pass that turned into a Man Vs. Man situation inside the 30-yard line. As a result, McGriff gave the Marshalls’ defense their 2nd interception of the quarter.
As usual, defensive success coincides with offensive success. The Marshalls appeared invincible as they pushed ahead to the Monarchs’ 25-yard line. However, their progress was cut short due to an 11-yard sack by Stanley. They would settle for a field goal to take a 10-0 lead inside the 2nd quarter.
Following a three-and-out per team, Bailey lifted the team on his shoulders, doing virtually everything he could do as a running back on every play. It was enough to put the Monarchs at the 27-yard line, but not enough to score points. The field goal attempt from that distance was blocked, and London remained scoreless.
The Marshalls attempted to force a safety when they were stopped at the 37-yard line by choosing to punt. The strategy was successful, as they pinned the Monarchs at the 2-yard line. London avoided the safety but still had to punt after gaining little yardage.
In almost mirror fashion with about 40 seconds later with 1 minute to go in the first half, the Marshalls attempted to do the same thing from the 41-yard line. On this occasion, however, the punt was blocked at midfield.
After using all three timeouts and taking the clock to 16 seconds, the Monarchs needed less than 20 yards before reaching the end zone. On 2nd Down, Mason threw to the end zone for the Monarchs’ first points, making the score 10-7 at halftime.
A 22-yard pass to Andre Agurs boosted the start of the 3rd quarter for the Marshalls. The play was erased once Brinker threw into double coverage in a desperation throw to the end zone, which was intercepted by McCullough for a touchback. The turnover would not lead to any significant change to the game, with the Monarchs quickly being forced to punt on their possession.
Both offenses were silent for the majority of the 3rd quarter. After a 23-yard pass to Overstreet in the final seconds of the quarter, the Marshalls were finally back in business. Brinker’s pass to Overstreet for an 11-yard touchdown would put San Antonio ahead by 10 points.
The Monarchs weren’t quite as lucky. With only 12 minutes remaining, the Marshalls forced a punt while holding a 2-possession lead. They failed to capitalize on a second chance after the Marshalls punted as well, but London would come to life once Parker fumbled the ball while surrounded by a sea of defensemen. Their offense immediately cashed it in for 7 points with a 23-yard receiving touchdown on the first--and last--play of the drive.
Everything the Monarchs did to revive their chances was on the verge of crumbling right after they scored the touchdown. Brinker decimated the Monarchs’ secondary with several “chunk” plays of 10-20 yard completions. They would get to the 1-yard line, but on an attempt to trick London with a play-action pass, Lacina rushed around the outside to force an 8-yard sack. The Marshalls would have to settle for a very short field goal to reach a 20-14, one possession lead.
There was not enough gold in the Monarchs’ pot to protect their chance of victory on the next drive. An interception by Parks on the first play put a punctuation mark on the game--until London used a pink eraser two plays later. Vinson jumped his assigned receiver’s route to intercept Brinker. He had an open lane to the end zone, but was dragged down at the 1-yard line.
That measly yard would ultimately make a huge difference. The Monarchs were unbelievably stopped on 4 straight plays, with Fluellen finishing the job by creating a 13-yard sack on 4th & Goal. The Marshalls gained a 1st down after getting possession, cementing an incredible 20-14 victory over the Monarchs.
Written By: Luke Rainey