by Bee Jay Glosson
Here we are, two-thirds of the season in the books and the battle for second place in the league gives us two familiar teams battling it out. The Brigade and Valor are owned by the same group and might as well be brothers in the grand scheme of things. They certainly act like it when they play each other with lots of back and forth banter and some of the most aggressive play from both. Some say they are rivals because of proximity as Baltimore is only an hours ride from D.C., others because they have played each other more than any other teams in the league. The players see themselves as rivals just as much as anyone and it shows on the field.
When you play your brother in anything you never want to lose, ever, so when you do lose, you know there will always be sour grapes in the bunch about it. This game would be no different except this time the game winning touchdown would come in a very different type of way. As I said earlier, these two teams know each other very well, so there are no niceties and well wishes, there are just hard hits and trash talking immediately.
Starting the game off the Brigade would defer and give the Valor the ball first, and in return the Valor would show them what that would cost them. Arvell Nelson would help drive his team down the field and then find “Big Play” Reggie Gray for a TD halfway through the first quarter. The Brigade would not go quietly into the night however, as Joe Hills would break his own record and extend his 100 game streak with a touchdown to 101 to bring them even at the end of the quarter.
Back and forth they would go til the end as the the proverbial brothers would move to beat the other. With 2 TD’s on the ground by Nelson for the Valor and another TD for Hills and a kickoff return by Joe Powell for the Brigade we would see this game go into the half tied at 21.
Pulling even at the half would not be as simple as scoring a touchdown though as the Valor had the last possession of the half and would make it a memorable one. With just over a minute left the Valor would score, or would they? A defensive penalty on the scoring play would allow the Valor to take their own points off the board in exchange for a new set of downs. Take points off the board? No way, never, nope, not gonna do it, but they did. With the crazy move though, the Valor would take the clock to 0 and score before the half to tie the game not allowing the Brigade a chance to hurt them again.
The second half would be the same as the first really, back and forth and then a crazy play to end it. With another 2 touchdowns on the ground for Nelson and the Valor, combined with 2 touchdown passes by Shane Boyd and the Brigade, we would find ourselves tied at 35 with less than 5 minutes to go in the game. Tie you say? No brotherly affair can be tied at the end and this one would not be any different.
With under 30 seconds left to go in the game, the Valor would go for a potential game winning field goal. Valor fans at this point are holding their breath and crossing fingers, toes and anything else they can find to make this kick go through the uprights. With kicking woes all year long, it was not a position anyone wanted to be in. Then it happened, the greatest missed kick of all time.
Pat Clarke III after the game would say, “We set up too close to the line, that’s on me, but we practice for things like this.” The kick was up, and wide left, but in all things arena, the ball would bounce off the bar, land in between 4 Brigade players, bouncing off one’s back and then into the hands of Josh Reese who would take it into the endzone for a Valor touchdown with less than 15 seconds to go left on the clock.
The Valor score on one of the most improbable plays to go up 42 to 35, but again arena knows no safeguards as 1 second on the clock is enough to win a game. The Brigade would get a final shot at it, literally as a defensive penalty would give them one untimed play, with no time on the clock to try and tie. That effort would fall short however and the Valor would hold on to win.
The Valor find themselves at 5-4, tied for second place in the league, heading into the final 3 games of the season. Atlantic City is in town this week with QB Warren Smith Jr and former OC Shane Stafford, who were both on the Valor staff last year during their championship run. Every game matters from here on and with Atlantic City on the outside of the playoff race looking in, expect a knock down, drag out game at home next week. As always, be loud, be proud and go Valor.