In the first full day of action at College Easterns, teams were tested early and often. On top of the warm temperatures that surely took a bit of getting used to for all but Wilmington, Georgia, and Florida, the tournament’s trademark wind came and went throughout the day. With multi-turnover points becoming the norm as the day drew on, the number of turnovers a team had became far less important than the field position that they gave their opponent, as allowing easy upwind breaks was a recipe for disaster.
Round One (for full scores from every round, go to Score Reporter)
Little truths like these were evident in Oregon and Iowa’s first round match up. While the gusts were at their low point for the day, Ego showed the importance of staying in control early by scoring on quick two and three-throw pull plays to which Iowa was slow to respond. At 6-4, Ego, Iowa would receive, kicking off the first of two points that had at least five turnovers each.
The key was that Oregon won them both. Using their timeouts, swarming floating discs, and continuing to apply pressure when Iowa was knocking on the endzone line’s door (which it did few times), Ego was able to take half 8-6. From there, they won comfortably, 15-9.
Elsewhere in Round One, Harvard took down Wilmington, 13-11, in a battle wherein the only multiple point leads were when Wilmington was up 2-0 and when Harvard broke to win. When asked about covering Harvard’s George Stubbs, Wilmington coach Tully Beatty stressed how important it was for all six of the team’s defenders not guarding Stubbs to step up so that he did not have such open looks to throw to.
“If one of our guys is going to take that assignment, he knows he’s there to work,” said Beatty. “The important thing is his teammates not hang him out to dry.”
In Round Two, Virginia and California played a game worthy of the expectations put on the tournament’s 8-9 seed match up– for about three quarters of the game. While there were some minimal runs, no team led by more than two before half.
Pulling at 7-7, Virginia threw a zone that produced multiple turnovers on which it had trouble capitalizing. Finally, a Nathan Schelbe footblock led to a Virginia half, which Night Train followed up by winning two more long points to go up 10-7 out of the break. While Cal would continue to stay close on defense, it was their defensive offense’s inability to do more than huck the disc that allowed Virginia’s offense to remain comfortable. The game ended 15-11, Virginia.
Two fields over, Harvard came up with yet another close win, this time coming from behind to beat Minnesota, 15-14.
With the one seeds playing the fours, Round Three was the most uneventful of the day. Of the games that I was able to watch, Pittsburgh rolled Wilmington, 15-3, and while Georgia was able to hang with Colorado for a few points, Jojah simply dropped the disc and threw it away more than Mamabird; Colorado started to pull away before half.
If Round Three was a downbeat, Round Four got things moving again. With the wind picking up, both Oregon v. Florida and Colorado v. Wisconsin stayed close throughout the first half. In both cases, the two seeds (Florida and Wisconsin) held the upper hands in their respective games, each earning a single upwind break that would carry them to half. In Florida’s case, the Gators forced Oregon to throw numerous passes to gain marginal yards, and in Wisconsin’s, Colorado continually gave the Hodags the disc on overthrown dump passes and offensive miscues. The games went to half with Florida up, 8-7, and Wisconsin leading, 8-6.
In the second half, however, the stories were different. While Florida was able to pull away, rattling off three breaks in a row en route to a comfortable win, Colorado made sure that Wisconsin would not do the same. Down 13-14 and going downwind in a game to 15 (the cap was on), Colorado continually looked to the endzone in hopes of tying the game. After a huge Martin Freeman bid just missed, Wisconsin was able to work the disc up the field. With the disc on the line, a Hodag handler threw into what seemed to be a handblock only to recover the disc off of the bounce. His next throw, however, was D’d, and on Colorado’s next chance, Timmy Beatty was able to cover just enough ground to make a layout grab in the endzone.
At 14-all, Colorado pulled upwind, and after a Wisconsin turnover, Mamabird had its chance. Again, Beatty would find a way to make the play, this time catching the disc on an in cut and firing a pinpoint flick huck for the score. 15-14, Mamabird.
Before bed, two quick thoughts on the crossover games. More tomorrow:
- Harvard defeated Iowa, 17-15, in a game that had zero breaks until the score was at 12-12. Each team scored in the upwind endzone only once. Harvard’s Stubbs played all but two points in the game.
- Colorado beat Virginia, 11-9, on a game that saw Virginia recover from a 7-4 deficit to take a 9-8 lead. At 9-9 and with Virginia on the goal line, Matty Zemel came up with perhaps the block of the tournament, flying from a few feet behind Night Train’s Neil Place to get the catch D. Colorado was able to work the disc up the field to break to 10-9, and on the next point, broke again to win, 11-9.