ST. CHARLES, Mo. — “The show must go on” is apparently not just a saying in the theater world. After the Corpus Christi Fury — the St. Louis Attack’s scheduled opponent for Saturday night — could not get their whole team to the Family Arena, the Georgia Firebirds got the call to ride up from Atlanta, so as not to disappoint fans planning to come for the final regular season game at the Family Arena. On top of the win they notched via forfeit in the X-League standings, St. Louis treated the crowd to a 55-8 win in the unplanned exhibition.
The Attack’s Deandre Jackson set the tone before the game even began in the X-Dash. The speedy wide receiver won the pregame race — the alternative to the opening coin toss — easily, appearing to not even be running hard and breaking stride before he even crossed the finish line. Jackson seems destined for yet another X-Dash Player of the Year trophy for now having gone through two full seasons in the X-League without losing.
The defense continued the domination in the game’s first possession. Georgia went three and out and attempted to kick a field goal from their own 3-yard line, but Jason Null went unblocked and actually kicked it out of the holder’s grasp before the kicker arrived and then fell on the ball in the end zone for a 10-0 lead.
The Attack offense didn’t see the field for the first time until there was just 2:30 left in the opening quarter. Quarterback Mike McMullen didn’t waste anytime as he hit Johnnie King on the quick screen and he was able to break a couple tackles to expand the lead to 18-0.
Georgia got on the board in the second quarter thanks to a connection between quarterback Labonce James and his receiver Isaiah Jupiter. James hit Jupiter first with a 30-yard heave while backpedaling away from a heavy rush to get the ball down to the goal line. Jones then fired a ball Jupiter in the front right corner of the end zone to cut the lead to 18-6.
From there it was all St. Louis.
McMullen and King connected for another touchdown. Close to an identical play just from farther out, King made a more impressive run as he spun and broke multiple tackles to get in for the score. He then celebrated his highlight reel run by jumping into the crowd in the North end zone where he was mobbed by the Marines from Ft. Leonard Wood that filled the section.
In the second half, McMullen threw three more touchdown passes — one to Jackson and two to Chris Headd, the second was a spectacular catch on which he was interfered with and knocked over the boards and still hung on to the ball. Darryl Grady recorded the game’s only rushing touchdown with a 5-yard run in the third quarter.
On the defensive side of the ball, Null recorded a safety on a sack in the fourth quarter to bookend his day. Defensive back Brian Lowry had two impressive interceptions, one in each half.
The defensive domination was no surprise to Coach Pat Pimmel.
“We worked on defense all week,” said Pimmel. “Our offense might have suffered a bit this week because of it, but I wanted to make sure our defense was right.”
The last minute change of opponent was not a problem according to Pimmel because they didn’t prepare for Corpus Christi, but “focused on doing what we do.”
Attack owner Andrew Haines learned Corpus Christi was not going to be able to play late Friday night and made the call to Georgia at 2 a.m. The Firebirds hopped on the bus with 15 players and made the trek to St. Charles. The team that took the field about 16 hours later was a combination of the Firebirds, Corpus Christi players who were able to make the trip, and some other players from the area. Corey Adamson, who was a member of the Attack last year and the St. Louis Ambush until he was traded to Milwaukee this year, handled the kicking duties for the Firebirds. Georgia is currently without a league and have previously played fellow X-League members, the Bloomington Edge and the Florida Tarpons, in exhibitions. They are a possible expansion team for the X-League next season.
St. Louis now waits to see if and where they will play in the playoffs. A wrench was thrown into the standings not only with the forfeit– which precedent states goes in the books as a 2-0 win and thus hurts the Attack in a point differential tie breaker– but with the exit of a team ahead of the Attack in the standings. The Cape Fear Heroes either left or were kicked out of the X-League depending on which side you believe. Their final two league games were canceled. A league conference call is supposed to take place Sunday to hash out the final playoff decisions, but both Haines and Pimmel are confident their season is not over. Pimmel is already thinking about their next opponent.
“We are preparing to play the Florida Tarpons next Saturday.”
(Photo Credit: St. Louis Attack)