Each one of these pool play recap articles will highlight a particular matchup for each round.
“The Showdown at Throwdown” took place between Alabama Yellow Hammer and the Ball State Wizardz. While this game was merely a 2 vs. 3 matchup to outside spectators, it was a game that featured Will “Bama” Drumright of Ball State and his alma mater in Alabama.
The Crimson Tide started on D, with a big Brian Moore pull that gave time for Alabama’s 4 man trap to set, forcing a high stall throwaway. Yellow Hammer appeared to strike first as Moore sent it deep to one of his young receivers, but the play was called back due to a travel. After a couple of turns each way, Ball State’s freshman phenom Travis Carpenter took a shot deep to junior Alex Hutton for the 1-0 hold. Alabama’s O ran smooth through a spread out horizontal stack anchored by handlers Nathan Baker, Travis Midkiff and Daniel Gilstrap. As they reached the red zone, Moore stepped out and threw a nice around backhand break that floated to space for Gilstrap and the 1-1 tie.
With a high and floating Michael Venezia pull, the Yellow Hammer 4 man cup again set on Ball State, who seemed more than happy to move the disc to the force sideline. After breaking through the wall, the Wizardz were able to take advantage of some slow transition defense, with Dana Granholm hitting an open Jake Johnson, 2-1 Ball State. While the Yellow Hammer offensive line flowed well downfield, spurts of youth and impatience surfaced in the red-zone. Matt Hardman ended up taking control of this point, throwing the assist and tying the game at 2s.
The story of this game early on was Alabama’s inability to punch in break opportunities, despite the large amount of turns generated by their zone defense. At points of lesser wind, Ball State was able to get the disc in the hands of players like Hans Rasmussen and Granholm, who were able to move the disc up-field at great speed. At 4-4, the Wizardz sent the disc deep to Travis Carpenter, with the Tide’s Preston Thompson on the defensive. Thompson got to the space first, going up to make the D, despite the big jump from Carpenter. As the Thompson batted the disc away, Carpenter fell of top of him, only to find the disc dropping right into his lap.
The following Wizardz pull was short, and immediately after earning the under, Brian Moore sent a low backhand huck that seemed to hang forever for a streaking Venezia, as he was able to make the layout grab for the 5-5 goal. At 6-6, Ball State looked deep early, but Thompson was able to make a big time D as the receiver had to wait for the disc to come inbounds. Alabama’s d-line offense was a patient vertical stack that worked it between Moore, Hardman and Austin “Draco” Taylor. At around the Wizardz brick-mark, a throw to an under-cutting Moore was taken by the wind. While all signs pointed to another wasted break opportunity by the tide, Daniel Tylke was able to pick up the trash and find Thompson for half and the first break of the game.
Coming out of the half on offense, the Tide began to roll, with a Hardman to Baker hold followed by bookends break for Preston Thompson, courtesy of an outside-in flick huck from the lefty Matthew Bryant. Not ready to go down without a fight, Ball State turned to their long ball and Rasmussen, as Luke Broderick served up a floaty deep shot that Hans pulled down for the 9-7 hold. On the next possession, Alabama effortlessly grinded down the field until a stoppage gave Brian Moore a fresh count, about 15 yards outside the Wizardz end-zone. Immediately after the disc was tapped in, Moore tried the around backhand break to Hardman, just in time for a wind gust that popped the disc up. Two Ball State defenders converged but jumped up too early, giving Nathan Baker the easy grab for the 10-7 goal. This hold put all of the momentum in the hands of Yellow Hammer, who was content to throw out young defensive lines and trade for the rest of the game. Final score, 13-10 Alabama over Ball State.
To sum things up, the Alabama zone proved to be too much for Ball State, even though they hail from the winds of the Great Lakes Region. Unable to use their full arsenal of players, Ball State was forced into a situation where their top talent was the only line of defense against the Tide. In the spurts of man defense I saw, the Wizardz were able to annihilate the opposing line, quickly scoring with some amazing athleticism from the likes of Rasmussen and Carpenter, as well as flashy decision making of Robert Stasi and Granholm. However, the frequent situation where the disc was moved past the Alabama wall to the middle of the field, only to be quickly dumped back to the trap sideline was certainly one of the keys in the Ball State loss to Yellow Hammer.
Main photo, Travis Carpenter defensively bidding on Matt Hardman is courtesy of Abbey Sedlacek.