Zetlins eat AEPi in IM Bowl
Published: Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 22:05
Over 100 fans braved the winter weather and made the journey to Chapels Field to watch the 2003 Intramural Flag Football Championship game Sunday afternoon. The fans were not disappointed, as a hard-nosed physical football game saw the Burning Zetlins defeat a feisty and determined Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) team, 26-14.The Burning Zetlins used a potent rushing attack and outstanding performances by senior Ben Oh and graduate student Steve Smith to clinch their first championship the teams four year history. Oh had two rushing touchdowns and a game clinching interception, while Smith had two touchdowns, one coming off a critical interception.
"The win was extra special for the seniors on our team," Thompson said. "Brickman, Mauro and I have been at this together for four years, and to come from a freshman team that went winless and was consistently beat up every game to winning the championship in our senior year-it's almost like a storybook ending for us."
AEPi struck first on their first drive when quarterback Nick Henley '04 scored on a draw play up the middle. A failed conversion gave the ball back to the Burning Zetlins, who marched down the field to tie the game. A long quarterback sweep by Alex Thompson '04 was followed by a touchdown from two yards out by running back Oh. The Burning Zetlins also missed the conversion and both teams went into halftime with the game deadlocked at 6-6.
The second half was dominated by the Burning Zetlins-and their fans. A rowdy contingent of Zetlins fans yelled towards the AEPi players all game, frequently disrupting snap counts and play-calling. After a muffed punt, the Zetlins got the ball back with a healthy field position and plenty of time left in the game.
The Zetlins quickly took advantage. Oh took a handoff from Thompson and raced down the near sideline. Five yards from the end-zone, Oh slipped on the muddy field but managed to keep his footing long enough to dive over the goal line to give the Zetlins a 12-6 lead.
After another failed conversion, AEPi took over, but once again fell victim to the noisy crowd and the Zetlins blitz packages, led by defensive linemen Rob Brickman '04, Ross Shapiro '05, and Matt Mauro '04. Linebacker Jamie Grabowski 'GR consistently bottled up any runs that managed to get past the defensive line.
"Our entire defense works as one unit," said Mauro, who established the team in 2000. "Every lineman knows where every other lineman is on each play."
The drive ended when an errant throw was picked off by Sam Smith 'GR. The Zetlins used the momentum to march down the field and pick up another touchdown, this time on a reverse to Smith, who was playing wide receiver. A conversion pass from Thompson to wideout Justin Moore '04 in the back of the endzone tagged on two more points and gave the Zetlins a 20-6 lead.
But AEPi was not done fighting. A gutsy performance by Henley (who had his finger broken on an earlier play) gave AEPi a shot when he hooked up with wide receiver Josh Sugarman '04 for a long passing touchdown. Henley then hit Sugarman for the two-point conversion, cutting the Zetlins lead to 20-14 with two and half minutes to play.
"I have all the respect in the world for Nick Henley," said Zetlins' captain Thompson. "He's a great running quarterback and to play through an injury like that is really a mark of a great player."
On defense, AEPi forced the Zetlins into a turnover on downs in the next series, but Smith came up with another huge interception for the Zetlins, picking the ball off at his own goal line and returning it the length of the field for a touchdown.
"I am nothing without my team," said Smith. "The pressure to make them throw an interception and then the blocking after the interception was great and I couldn't have done it without the efforts of my teammates"
AEPi's last ditch effort came up short when Oh intercepted a pass and took a knee to seal the victory.
Grabowski was named the season MVP for his dual role of offensive lineman and linebacker.
"Jamie was the heart and soul of our team," said Thompson. "He was constantly teaching, motivating, and supporting the other guys on the squad. He deserves every ounce of the MVP honor."
Grabowski and Smith both played football in undergraduate school. Smith was a safety at Alabama State University and Grabowski was an All-Conference offensive lineman at Holy Cross. Their experience was critical against the big, physical players on AEPi.
In the regular season meeting between the two teams, the Zetlins beat AEPi, 8-2, in what was considered at the time one of the best games of the year. Sunday's match-up may have gone one better.
"It's the two best teams in the league playing for the championship," said Thompson. "That's about the best you can ask for from the standpoint of what's best for the league.