Friday Saturday Night Lights – Day 1 ACCUC
While it was quite cool outside, the wind had died down, the flood lights were on, and Darkside was fired up. Georgia Tech had survived an earlier scare against NCState and was playing their fourth game of the day. UNC would face Duke a round later for the local bragging rights, but all signs pointed to the winner of this game taking the pool.
Darkside would start out on offense to begin the first half. It became evident very quickly that these UNC players loved to huck it. #10 Sayre-Mccord would launch a flick to #6 the Freshman Christian Johnson who would sky the GT defender to go up 1-0. The feeling from their sideline was already electric, and it would stay intense the entire game. Nick Lance would come back the following possession as a cutter, receiving a pass from #3 Clay Williams to make it one all.
The quick strike attack from UNC put them up again as Sayre-Mccord got big to sky the Tribe defender. GT came out in their typical vertical stack and began poaching the lane against Lance’s hucks. After not being able to find a dump, #44 sent one deep to Hogan McHugh out of reach and out of bounds The defense would be caught out of position on an incorrect force giving UNC the first break of the game.
UNC would have another chance for a break, but a Georgia Tech D on an up the line cut gave the Tribe life. Lance would again turned cutter, baiting the Darkside defender back and jumping up the line for the score. Georgia Tech’s defense was stout, but Tristan Green was quicker. Often double backing on up the line cuts, Green would get it in a power position. He would deliver one of deep back hands to Sayre-Mccord again, making 4-2 UNC.
Darkside decided it be time to try and confuse the Tribe with zone, but that would be a mistake. Nick Lance had been destroying zone’s all day, and this was no different. Defend the hammer? He’ll throw a blade. GT keeps pace by going over the top and getting with in one at 4-3. On the ensuing possession #8 UNC save possession by going horizontal and delivers it to Green goes up line to go up by 2.
Nick Lance had been primarily a handler in the earlier rounds, but decided that the Tribe needed him down field. He would sky #8 deep on the right sideline going toe to toe Sayre-Mccord’s abilities. Green would again show his quickness the following point, faking back, and going up line. With the flick throw high, Green snag the disc while toeing the line. Without a second to spare, a flat flick huck would be going 40 yards down the field to Sayre-Mccord. GT lets up another break for half after a turnover by #00. 7-4.
Darkside comes out in the second half with a 3 man cup and Lance goes to the hammer immediately. The UNC defender gets up from behind, and a strip is called. The observer overrules the call giving Darkside another break attempt. Immediately #6 Christian Johnson goes deep, but through the stack. Pick is called. “GOOD CUT! Next time don’t cut through the middle of the stack” yells one of his teammates. Nick Lance attempts to poach the lane on the restart, but the offense finds the space to make it 8-4.
The next possession for Georgia Tech was crucial, another break and this game may slip away. The Tribe did it the hard way, with 3 consecutive up the line cuts for the score. A rare Darkside throwaway gives GT a quick break to get within 2 at 8-6. UNC would come out showing a horizontal stack, but would look out of sync. After an offensive miscue, the momentum would turn towards the Tribe. After a few turnovers, Lance would crush a backhand 60 yards to #52 Sean Balla for the goal.
Tristan Green would stop the bleeding and put a hammer over the break side into the corner for a 9-7 lead. With Darkside sideline and defense fired up again, the handler movement was shut down for GT. However, Nick Lance would find an opening and dive horizontally across the endzone for an open side goal. The following possession would see #55 Paul Corbett give and go with Green to get within steps of the end zone. After an up the line to Green, it would go back to Corbett with a lofty high release break backhand. Corbett would once again get it back to Green, giving him the opportunity to send a low curving blade to the back right corner. #8 would toe the line giving UNC the 10-8 lead.
#00 Victor Lesniewski couldn’t reel in the huck which landed right in front his outstretched arms. #42 Andrew Fish saves GT with a hand block, and the offense would go up the line again for the score. Darkside offense once again uses the horizontal, slashing cuts to get the disc down field. #5 Chris Zeiber would find the space with a low release break bullet flick. Lance would be a one man show and run the offense by delivering break throw after break throw, bringing it to 11-10.
With Darkside relying on long hucks, eventually some of them would be overthrown. After an overthrow, Tech would take a timeout in an attempt to tie it. An immediate miscommunication between the handler and Lance leads to a Tribe throw away. Tristan Green shows his ups again coming down with a hammer to make it 12-10 (video below), game point UNC. Nick Lance and Gabriel Miranda would stop the show with my favorite play of the day. Out of a horizontal stack, Lance made the first cut receiving the disc on the right sideline. With few options deep, Miranda had finished a cut deep but was curling out to the left breakside. Lance launches a fast flat hammer that begins to helix when it reaches the end zone 50 yards down field. As the hammer begins to double helix and rotates vertically Gabe goes full extension horizontally, getting his fingers on the inner lip of the disc while sliding. I regret not taking video for this. Tech was back within one.
Darkside had their chance to put the game away, and slowly worked the disc down the field. At the goal line, the thrower put a high release back hand to space as the cutter made the uncontested catch to win the pool. Don’t worry, there was a rematch, and that write up is below.